So, the last few weeks have brought big news for this modest club in Buenos Aires. First, former player Sergio Batista was named the permanent coach of the National Team. Congrats! Second, and more pertinent to the current team, the Juniors played against Boca Jrs. And not just any Boca. This was Boca with the return of their aging talisman, Juan Roman Riquelme. And how did things pan out? Well…. Read the rest of this entry »
Ahh, the sweet taste of victory. So supple. So filling. So delicious. Argentinos Jrs beat All Boys boy the lsimmest of margins – 1:0. However, the lack of a goalscoring fiesta should not overshadow a cleansheet. Here are the video highlights:
A diagonal slide-rule pass. A perfectly timed run. A cruzado far post finish. What’s not to love? Read the rest of this entry »
Well, we lost. We lost 2:1. Here are the video highlights:
This was a classic game of two halves – the first half Argentinos was Dr. Jekyll. We looked organized at the back, defended with cohesion and grit, closed down space well, and got numbers behind the ball. The goal was a serious purple patch – Racing’s keeper should have caught the ball, the rebound luckily bounced off the post, etc. etc. Still, to be 1-0 up at the half, at Racing, was a major accomplishment.
And the second half? Well, Argentinos turned into Mr. Hyde. Read the rest of this entry »
Round eleven of the Apertura pits Argentinos against Racing, who recently lost to Independiente. Sadly, after the defeat, several Racing players were assaulted by their own fans. Still, despite this distraction, Argentinos will be playing away at Racing plus Racing welcome back their Colombian playmaker Giovanni Moreno.
So, what can we expect? Read the rest of this entry »
So, Argentinos Jrs battled to a drab goalless draw this past weekend, keeping a clean sheet against Godoy Cruz, but failing to score themselves. For masochists and lovers of little goalmouth action, here is the abbreviated video highlights:
As Juan Carlos Fraschini of La Nacion pointed out, this game held lets of promise – Argentinos Jrs had turned things around, grabbing points in the last three fixtures after a dreadful start. Meanwhile, Godoy Cruz had displayed an attacking mindset with futbol puro to match for most of the season. Still, the end result was a match full of physicality but devoid of drama. The one clear chance of the game, a point blank shot by Niell, was palmed away by a helpless goalkeeper. Read the rest of this entry »
Argentinos Juniors has the possibility of winning a championship for the first time in 25 years, so please forgive me if I relegate Barcelona and Inter to lower status. The win their league just about every year. At 3 pm Eastern, they will kick off knowing that only a win will suffice. They have demonstrated over the last two weeks that they are capable of dealing with the pressure, since they have won both matches in the last minute. Now they stand alone at the top, one point clear of the hated Estudiantes de la Plata.
All of the matches in Italy, Spain, and England will have concluded by that time, so I fully expect your eyes to be on this match, and cheering wherever you are for Argentinos. In all objective honesty, they are the team to root for: little recent success, decent men on the field, many of whom are home-grown. I need to cut myself short here in order to leave to attend the match, but I could go on and on and on…
Watch it here: http://www.apurogol.com/
And, as always, Azul will now lead us in song.
Now I know what euphoria feels like. Now I know what witnessing an unbelievable and nearly impossible event will do to a person’s psyche. Now I finally know what it’s like to watch a group of men perform above expectations and play well enough to stay at the top of the table. Enough of my words. Let’s go to the video (pay attention to the clock for each goal, especially the last two):
It all changed too quickly for us to truly appreciate what had happened. All we knew is that we are still alive for the championship and that’s what we celebrated. But what happened will be brought up again and again over the coming years. It was the second week in a row that Argentinos scored a last-minute goal to steal points. It continued Independiente’s slide after at one point they were in complete control of the tournament.
Yes, part of the reason they were at one point top of the table by a good margin can be seen in the video. They should have honestly scored five goals and made the comeback futile and pointless. Yet, and the popular refrain is that sports both build and reflect your character, character was reflected. Argentinos has no real idea how it was going to score the goals, it just knew that that was what it had to do. So, two of the central defenders (Sabia and Curuzzo) hung around and waited for their turn. Independiente had no idea of how to control the tide of the match once it swung against them, as the slow, controlled passing between the midfielders right before the last goal clearly demonstrates. The were so out of sorts that they didn’t even realize that clearing the ball would have guaranteed them a draw.
Needless to say, the minutiae of the match matter to me not at all. It was a day of glory and victory and euphoria. One match left and another star may be added to the crest…until then, one more image that captures how emotional everything was.
UNTIL THEY SCORE THREE GOALS IN THE LAST TWENTY MINUTES!!! Details and video later. Until then, here are some quick pictures while I continue celebrating and start to understand what just happened. The short story is that they won 4-3.
It’s big boy time tomorrow in Argentina with the two matches that are being played simultaneously at 2:10 pm local time (that’s 1:10 pm Eastern and 6:10 pm UK time for those interested). Estudiantes de La Plata (36 points) will face off against Rosario Central in Quilmes (because Estudiantes, for all of its accomplishments over the last three years, still doesn’t play home matches at its own stadium) and Argentinos Juniors (35) will play host to Independiente at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium. N.B.: In the States, I find that Fox Sports in Espanol will be showing the Estudiantes match (with updates from ours, I’m sure) while I can’t find anything related in the UK.
One point separates them and two weeks remain…so many possibilities are going to be wheedled down to one reality and so much emotion is going to be experienced that the mind reels at the thought of…having to summarize it in one brief blog post.
Chuco Sosa will not be able to play tomorrow. Independiente owns his contract (again, he is on loan at Argentinos) and they have the right to not allow him to face his parent club. Doing so, however, just shows that they are little women. It hurts Argentinos, but more importantly it hurts Sosa. Much has been said recently about Chuco’s future, and all of it screams “I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO AVELLANEDA (though their bingo hall is one of the finest in the country)”. And it would thus appear that Independiente is better at holding a grudge than they are at playing soccer-style sports (1 win and 1 draw in their last 5 matches to plummet from title contention) and they just like fucking with other clubs. Screw you, Independiente. We don’t need him, we just really dig his Flash-y style.
To replace Sosa, we will call on the ever reliable heading skills of Nicolas “El Buitre” Pavolvich. At 32, his better days are far behind him, but with 4 goals thus far in the campaign he remains a threat when playing regularly. He’s big and not as fast as Sosa, though I don’t think I would necessarily call him slow. And his main function on the field when playing is to sit in the middle of the penalty box and wait for centers to float in, and then head them home. So, we’ll see what he can do there. Ironically enough, none of his four goals this year have been headers. Go sit in the corner and think about that for a while.
And now we come to the man, the myth, Jose Calderon. I misspoke the other day when I said he was 40. That was foolish and I hope I didn’t give you the wrong impression. He’s 39. Big difference. By the way, just to make you feel young, his professional career started in THE EIGHTIES! Borghi literally (LITERALLY) convinced him to come out of retirement for one tournament, and I said, “Great…solid guy off of the bench who will create some interesting situations every once in a while.” Here’s a reality check for my predicting skills: he has started every match and plays the full 90 minutes almost every single time. His intelligence is astounding, and he is able to influence a level of calm over the team at key points in the match on a regular basis. He’s also in ridiculous physical shape and can move with the best of them. A true phenomenon and there’s still a chance he will stick around with the club for the Apertura tournament/Copa Sudamericana kicking off in August.
I have taken up so much time and I haven’t even gotten around to our version of Scylla and Charybdis, Mercier and Ortigoza. I have talked onandonandonandon about them in the past. The key to this and every match: if they play up to their level, Argentinos will win. It is seriously that simple. When they play up to their level, the opponent cannot generate offense because those two are there sucking the ball away from the center. When they play up to their level, we score at least one goal because they are at the back, playing the ball in to guys who finish or set up the finish of the play. The good thing is that they are also the most reliable players we have.
The defenders who will line up are Matias Caruzzo, Juan Sabia, and Santiago Gentilleti.Sabia is returning from a three-week injury absence and is a welcome sight. He’s a strange story, since he has long been a backup and deservedly so. Yet, something clicked in this tournament and at the moment (pre-injury layoff, of course) he is a solid, solid defender. He is a large man who has figured out how to snuff out an attack early in the process, amping up the level of effectiveness of the unit. Gentilleti was the last signing of the January break and is a breakout star. He’s a lefty and was immediately impressive both in his marking skills and going forward. As easy as it is to say that every player is very important when your team has played its best tournament in the club’s history, it is actually very true for him. The left defender position was a struggle for a long time and he made it his from the first match, both in defending and in going forward. Since he took over as the regular starter, they have only allowed more than one goal twice (14 matches, by my count). The last five players I mentioned are the absolute backbone of the club and function like clockwork.
The rest of the squad is the dependable Gonzalo Prosperi and the mercurial Gustavo Oberman, playing on the flanks and responsible for the entire wide part of the field on their respective side (which they alternate during the match) and Nicolas Peric…a true madman in goal. Seriously, he’s nuts and has fucked up too much to really have the attitude and arrogance that he has shown. But he’s our keeper and we have no choice but to stand by him.
I’m not going to waste my time talking about Independiente. For a match like this, it doesn’t matter if the opponent is Xerez or Real Madrid…YOU have to go out and win; YOU have to dictate play and make them react; YOU have to show them and the world that you deserve the championship.
Ugh, enough of my babbling, amirite? Again, tomorrow (Sunday, May 9) at 1:15 Eastern in the States and 6:15 in the UK. All matches in Argentina can be streamed here: www.apurogol.com. Otherwise it makes no sense to have read this much.