Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
The forthcoming Superclásico will soon occupy every available second of radio and TV airtime and every available column millimetre/pixel. Argie Bargy won’t shy away from jumping on that particular bandwagon, but before we dissect what’s bad and really bad about River and Boca ahead of Sunday’s showdown at the Bombonera, here are the goodies and baddies from Matchday 9...
Gustavo EsquivelReferee’s assistants are usually known only by their face, when viewers demand to see a close-up shot of the culprit for a horrendous offside decision. Not so with Señor Esquivel, who grabbed the headlines after his contribution to Saturday's Chacarita-Independiente game.
Chacarita’s full-back cleared for a throw-in, justifiably not expecting the linesman to be on the pitch. The ball took an awkward deflection off encroaching Esquivel and went out for a corner. Predictably, the Rojos' winning goal followed. Simply scandalous. Watch it here at 1'10":
Federico HiguaínBefore his brother had atoned for his midweek miss against Lyon with a hat-trick, and was once again the darling of the Spanish press, the other Pipita Higuaín was up to the same tricks in Mendoza. A brace from the Godoy Cruz striker, including a brilliant 30-yard effort in time added on, kept the side within spitting distance of the top spot.
Carlos LunaMessi did it, Higuaín did it, the other Higuaín did it... it was a weekend for Argentine strikers to grab hat-tricks. Facing Boca would usually spell a quiet afternoon for a Tigre front man, but this Boca is the worst in its history. Thus did Carlos Luna join the hat-trick club in a famous win for the Matador. Just don’t expect to see him in South Africa...
Luiz AlbertoYou never get a second chance to make a first impression. The Brazilian centre-back discovered this maxim when he arrived in Buenos Aires, allegedly to sort out defensive problems in the side. He went straight to training from the airport, and promptly passed out. He has never quite lived down Day One at Boca, and he may never live down his performance at Tigre. Olé gave him a rating of 2, which was generous.
Abel AlvesThe ultimate compliment for any coach at Boca, or indeed Argentina, is to be the ‘new Bianchi’. Astute, serious, successful, respected... these are just some of the favourable adjectives used to describe the Viceroy’s successor. The 'new La Volpe', meanwhile, is the opposite. Guess which one Abel Alves is being compared to after nine games at Boca with one win? "If a player isn’t up to it then they’ll have to take a step to the side," said Alves after the 3-0 defeat to Tigre. That’ll boost the morale.
Jonathan BotinelliAt least Alves doesn’t have a certain blond defender on his books. Messrs Jones, Keane and Vieira have disciplinary records that verge on the angelic next to that of the San Lorenzo centre-back. Botinelli’s second red card of the season takes his career total to 11 – and at just 24 years of age, he has plenty of time to add to that tally.
Milton CaraglioBotinelli’s red card meant he wasn’t there to elbow Caraglio two minutes before time. The heavy-footed Central striker rose above what was left of the San Lorenzo defence (Pintos having also been sent off) to head in the winner. The goal took the club out of the relegation battle with their first win of the Clausura, saved Cuffaro Russo’s job in the dugout and also made it five out of five against the Big Five at home.
Gustavo CanalesThe weekend before the Superclásico is as good a time as any to open your account with your big new club. ‘New’ is relative, because River Plate fans had to wait nine matchdays to see Canales score for them, but if he repeats the feat next weekend, all will be forgiven. A win over Huracán didn’t hide the millionaires shortcomings, but two goals without reply eased off the pressure.
Claudio YacobOne-nil down at home with 87 minutes gone, Racing centre-forward Claudio Bieler was brought down in the Argentinos Juniors area. Penalty. Just as hacks around the country were typing "and he picked himself up to take the pen...", captain Claudio Yacob appeared. As the designated penalty taker, he duly missed, and Racing dropped into the dreaded descenso. Again.
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I don't know how, when, and specially WHY I've always been a River Plate fan.
Football didn't exist for me as a kid...but I was a River fan.
Now I'm suffering.
We all know that River should have gone downtown, if fair play existed....but luckily for us, it doesn't.
Tigre??? Lanús??? give me a break!
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