Home is where the points are as Ortega loses his cool

If there was any weekend when you wanted to be playing at home rather than away, it was matchday 16. Eight home sides won, and the other two hosts ended up sharing the points. It was a bad day for an away day. In the case of Chacarita/Palermo Dead, this was very bad news. They travelled to Mendoza, lost to Godoy Cruz, and were the first side relegated this season. In the case of Atlético Tucumán, it was also pretty bad news, because although they were at home, they were one of the sides that drew, a result which also condemned the northerners to life in the second division next season. For Boca it was great news. They won the clásico with San Lorenzo 2-0 with the second goal from Martín Palermo - a goal that virtually guarantees his place at the World Cup and also brought on a photo opportunity with Riquelme - suggesting that all is well in the state of La Boca, but proving that pictures can tell a thousand lies. For Lanús and Newell's, it was great news. Thumping home wins moved them closer to qualifying for the Sudamericana and brushed over disappointing seasons. For Argentinos it was fantastic news, as Bichi Borghi's smooth passing side also took all three points and stayed in the title hunt. For Independiente it wasnt such good news as they were away, and dropped two points at Huracán as their dip continues. For Estudiantes, however, it was the best possible news. The 1-0 win over River Plate was a modest scoreline for the country mile that separates these two clubs right now. One of River's defenders putting the ball past his own keeper also doesn't quite tell the story. Unfortunately, the main story to come from the game was the battle between Leandro Desábato and Ariel Ortega. Some classic chest puffing, pushing and growling between the two was followed by insults. The Estudiantes centre back called Ortega a drunk. The River Plate forward then called Desábato a cuckold. Only the first was caught by the cameras. The following incident - a knee-high stamp by Ortega - was caught by several cameras, several thousand people in the stadium, and several tens of thousands of TV viewers, but not the lineman, stood three metres away, nor the refereee. Ortega escaped Villalva and Cabral's fate, leaving River with nine players on the pitch at the end of the 90 minutes rather than eight, but the damage was done. The weekend's scandal was dished up the second Ortega wasn't given his marching orders. In the aftermath, we have been reminded that Desábato spent a night in jail in Brazil after calling the striker Grafite a 'monkey.' Ortega, meanwhile, crashed his car in the small hours of Sunday night.. Perhaps the incident shouldn't have surprised us that much. The real story, however, beyond the insults and horror challenges, is that Estudiantes are on for a historic double. They are top of the table in Argentina, and as the current Libertadores champions, are feared across the continent in the week that the South American Champions League enters the knock out phase. Whispers had it that the Pincha would be focusing on challenging for a repeat of last years Libertadores win. Vélez are said to have the best squad. Independiente started strongly. Yet Vélez have not got going in the league, which may or may not have to do with external factors. The Rojo, meanwhile, have suffered a major dip in form. And while Godoy Cruz and Argentinos quietly go about their business staying within spitting distance of the top spot, everyone agrees that the best starting XI in the country is the one that Alejandro Sabella picks for Estudiantes. Yet for the first leg against San Luis de Potosí in Mexico this week, Sabella has left six of those first teamers in Argentina. Juan Sebasián Verón, Mauro Boselli, Rodrigo Braña, Marcos Angeleri, José Sosa and Leandro Desábato have all stayed at home, to rest for next weeks league game with Chacarita/Palermo Dead. It is hard to imagine Inter travelling to a vital Champions League game without Diego Milito, Sammy Eto'o, Wesley Sneijder, Esteban Cambiasso, Lucio and Maicon, but it is also hard to imagine José Mourinho opting to fly 14 hours in tourist class to allow his players to go first class and rest. This, however, is exactly what Sabella has done. Leaving so many first teamers at home is a calculated risk. The Libertadores final will be played after, that's right, after the World Cup. Estudiantes can focus on home matters first, and as long as they keep afloat in the Libertadores, can set themselves up to win a historic back-to-back Libertadores trophy, and an even more historic league and Libertadores double.

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