Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
STOP PRESS: Literally moments after sending this to HQ, Abel Alves quit as Boca coach. His record as Boca coach is P13 W2 D5 L6 F18 A27. He leaves them 19th. That's adiós, not hasta luego...
‘Look how happy you all are!’ beamed Tolo Gallego after his Independiente side lost to Gimnasia. ‘Who was the lucky one, then? Look, the luck’s over, so don’t bust my balls about it anymore.’
If you listen to the local media, Independiente topping the charts in Argentina is a fluke.
Everyone has been saying, writing, shouting and dissecting evidence to prove just how lucky the Reds coach is.
Look how many trophies he’s won! Both as a player and a coach! Look at how many saves his keeper made last weekend! Look how his team rides its luck! He’s blessed from upon high!
Eduardo Coudet, one of Tolo’s players from his days at River, eloquently phrased the general feeling with the following charm. ‘When your A-hole opens up, Tolo, there’s nothing to give it to you with.’
Coming from a man who plays for Colón, that’s a bit rich. The literal translation of what the midfielder said to his former boss, is, however, a back handed compliment. Apparently.
For those believing that Señora Suerte is smiling on Tolo, Godoy Cruz somehow failed to beat Racing, and failed to draw level at the top of the table.
There is one slight hitch to all this championship talk - the sponsor.
The last two runners up in the league – Huracán and Newell’s – were sponsored by Motomel, the largest motorbike manufacturers in the country. Worryingly for the rojo fans, this year it’s Independiente they are paying to promote their mopeds and quads.
Next up to test their luck levels is San Lorenzo, whose coach Sebastián Méndez debuted in midweek with a defeat to the side he captained to the title just three months ago. The merry-go-round continues…
River and Boca crisis watch
While Independiente’s fate may be written in the stars, River Plate’s destiny is starting to become clearer and clearer with every passing game, after the fourth defeat in a row.
A falling-back scraped toe-poke of a shot from Achucarro (‘qué orto!!!!’ – again, it was lucky) won the game for Newell’s on Wednesday. The win rewarded Roberto Sensini with some breathing space, but it makes this weekend’s trip up north to Tucumán do or die for River coach Leo Astrada.
Going down, going down, going down!
In the meantime, the seat-kicking red-faced mother-insulting River Plate fans took to abusing their own players, only letting off Ariel Ortega, who was playing his first game in two months.
River being relegated (in a year’s time) is now a reality rather than a possibility, yet apparently berating their 19 and 18 year old strikers is the answer. It is clearly their fault that the most successful club in Argentine league history is facing the drop, therefore the burden of rescuing the club must weigh down on their teenage shoulders.
Bad luck didn’t really have too much to do with Boca ending their midweeker against Colón with ten men – the Colombian centre back Breyna Bonilla’s two-footed lunge was, in common parlance, criminal.
Neither was there any bad luck in Boca losing again, this time to a modest three goal difference.
Simple footballing concepts such as passing, running, and counter attacking were all that Colón needed to open up a 2-0 scoreline at half time, a lead which they were never in any danger of letting go of.
Also down on their luck were Chacarita when they faced Lanús on Wednesday. 1-0 with six minutes remaining, mired in the relegation zone, you’d think that you were looking at three vital points to avoid the drop. You were wrong. In two minutes – the 89th and the 90th to be precise - Gonzalo Castillejos hit two for Zubeldía’s men.
Chacarita’s naughty fans, the barra brava, thought that all the players needed afterwards was a clear threat of violence to turn things around.
Mauro Navas, who took over the Undertakers an Alex Ferguson-esque 11 days ago, threatened to quit because of the intimidation.
Chacarita now need to win all their games till the end of the season to have any chance of staying up. With four wins from 13, it is perhaps time to start writing the will.
Weekend fixturesNewell’s v ChacaritaHuracán v GimnasiaIndependiente v San LorenzoLanús v CentralVélez v BanfieldAtlético Tucumán v River PlateGodoy Cruz v TigreEstudiantes v RacingBoca v ArsenalArgentinos v Cólon
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