Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
The flip side of the short league format in Argentina providing two champions a year is, of course, two extended periods of mourning. No competitive football, only interminable rumours, friendlies, marketing exercises and the like. This is compounded by Fútbol Para Todos, where the fixtures are played back to back, often making the weekend run from Friday night to Tuesday.
Technically, this season isn’t over. There is still the Independiente versus Tigre match to play after the Rojo’s Sudamericana foray delayed that particular showdown, but for all intents and purposes, the Apertura 10 has finished.
Player of the season: Gio Moreno (Racing)Strictly speaking we’re meant to say Juan Manuel Martínez (Vélez) because that’s what everyone else is saying, or Enzo Perez at Estudiantes, or - because Riquelme singled him out - David Ramírez at Godoy Cruz.
The prize, however, goes to the DNA experiment Gio Moreno who has fused together Peter Crouch’s build, Guti’s passing, Riquelme’s languid style and individual brilliance together with (young) Rivaldo’s creativity. He is a genius.
Goal of the season: Juan Manuel Martínez (Vélez) vs. RacingNo arguing about this one. Some said it was pure Maradona. Others that Caniggia would have been proud of it. Others suggested it was worthy of Messi. It was in fact Juan Manuel Martínez.
Surprise Package: All BoysQuilmes and Olimpo managed to hang on and end 16th and 17th, but rather than just hanging on, fellow promotees All Boys swaggered their way to 8th in the league, beating Boca, Estudiantes, River and Independiente on the way.
The ‘You’ve Got To Hand It To Them For Sticking At It’ Award: Quilmes.The Brewers suffered a 14-match droop before finally getting it up in the final stage of the season and actually winning a game.
Most annoying metaphor: Ramón’s Falcon. It was fun at first. We all did it - it was handed to us on a plate. But enough is enough. San Lorenzo’s coach Ramón Díaz said his side weren’t so much a Ferrari as a more practical Ford Falcon. It doesn’t mean that EVERY SINGLE article about the club has to use it in the headline.
The I’m Going to Quit Award: Claudio Bichi BorghiAs the championship winning coach with Argentinos Juniors, Claudio Bichi Borghi was the perfect choice as Boca coach for this season. Things didn’t quite work out, though. ‘He’s too nice,’ confided one first teamer. Borghi threatened to quit three times before losing the superclásico to River, by when he no longer had a choice.
The Hats Off To The Board Award: Argentinos JuniorsWhen Borghi went to Boca, in came Pedro Troglio. Taking over a championship winning side that’s lost half its players isn’t easy. Not winning in the first seven matches makes things even harder. But the board stuck by Troglio, and ended the season in a very respectable midtable position. Hats off.
The Did They Really Finish That High? Award: Arsenal and River PlateThe *rse went quietly about their job and managed to finish third. River Plate were battling the relegation averages plus had all the fuss about Angel Cappa surrounding them, meaning that few noticed them creep up to finish 4th in the table.
The Most Libellous Claim: Juan Angulo VillegasTigre’s Colombian right back went national with his claim that his coach, the prickly Ricardo Caruso Lombardi, asked for money to get into the first team. We’re leaving that one right there…
The Should Get A Better Agent Award: Roberto Pereyra.All the talk has been about Milan, Juventus, Benfica begging to part with sums of up to $15 million for striker Gabriel Funes Mori and forward Erik Lamela. Fine. But what about the other brilliant teenage midfielder at River Plate? Who? Where?!
The Chalk and Cheese Award: IndependienteThe King of the Cups won their 16th international trophy with the Sudamericana. They also finished bottom of the league with just two wins all season. Go figure.
The Nestor Kirchner Clausura ’11 kicks off on February 13th
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