Highs and lows put Albiceleste in shade

Yesterday’s results in world cups permitted Argentines to indulge themselves in an emotional outpouring that satisfied two opposite extremes of the national character. ‘We are the best’ was swiftly followed by ‘we are the worst'.

They are the best because the women’s hockey team marched triumphantly to the final of the World Cup, breezing past Germany 2-1. They are the worst because the basketball side was utterly destroyed by Lithuania 104-85 in the world championship in Turkey.

These two results led to a situation which probably stands proudly unique in media history - you have to read the entire first half of the Argentine sports daily before you can find anything about football. Usually, the complete reverse is true, and the paper is in fact a football daily with a couple of token 100-word articles about handgliding.

Despite the highs and lows that other sports have offered the Argentine sports enthusiast this week, the reverberations from the midweek 4-1 win over Spain are still being felt. Most believed that the interim coach Sergio Batista had passed his audition and could start to sit comfortably in his new office from where he would direct proceedings with the national team for the next four years.

Doctor Carlos Bilardo put this wishful and rational thinking to rest by announcing that there were still three young candidates that he will propose to the board at AFA, and if they didn’t choose the right one – the correct one according to him - then he’d quit.

He also said that the contract on offer would only be until next year’s Copa America, but his boss, AFA president Julio Grondona, pointed out that this wasn’t 100% accurate, and that in fact any contract would be until the 2014 World Cup.

If not even beating the world champions 4-1 can calm things down, nothing will.

Away from the sky-blue-and-white of the various national teams, it’s back to club colours this weekend.

There’s a top of the table clash between San Lorenzo and Vélez, which the sanloré coach Ramón Díaz both played down also played up, saying he ‘wouldn’t call it a clásico.’ As we all know, any meeting between the Big Five is a clásico, but Vélez are the fifth Beatle of Argentine football as the unofficial sixth grande, and will not appreciate Ramón’s comments.

River Plate against Arsenal is a curious fixture because it is, at the same, a top of the table clash, but also a relegation battle. Argentine football operates on a parallel universe system, so while Arsenal are top of the table and River are just two points behind them, in the other world, the world of relegation table and three yearly averages, both would prefer not to look.

Estudiantes lost the South American Supercup midweek but can now focus on domestic commitments, this weekend against Racing. If the rumour mill is to be believed, which is a bad idea judging by the rumour mill’s form, Alejandro Sabella may have reached the end of his welcome in La Plata. So he’ll probably still be there in 2037.

And finally of the games to watch out for, Boca travel to Olimpo. ‘Watching out for’ is a relative term, however. Perhaps just look for the result. Boca have promised to pump the ball up to its two giant centre forwards all game. It won’t be one for the purist, but with four points to show from five games, the boys from the Bombonera can ill-afford to lose.

Tigre – Gimnasia
Colón – All Boys
Huracán – Banfield
San Lorenzo – Vélez
Lanús – Godoy Cruz
Estudiantes – Racing
Argentinos – Newell’s
River – Arsenal
Independiente – Quilmes
Olimpo – Boca 

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