The Huracan Tribute Weekend Preview - Round 6

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“There was a talk held in Montevideo last week,” explains Huracán coach Ángel Cappa. “They invited the coach from La U in Chile and Nacional in Uruguay, as they had both won the league title. And they invited me. They presented me as the title-winning coach.”

By rights, the Uruguayans should have given Bill Nighy clone Ricardo Gareca an expenses-paid trip across the Rio de la Plata, as it was Vélez who were Argentine crowned champions last season.

“If we were only interested in the results, though,” pointed out Argentine sports journalism heavyweight Diego Bonadeo, “we’d only buy the paper on Monday."

Any foreigner out here is regularly asked which team they support in Argentina. If you’ve only bought the paper on Monday for the last few years, you would probably support Boca. But if you watched Huracán last season, it’s impossible not to have fallen for them ever so slightly.

This week, Argie Bargy was invited along to hear coach Cappa, plus players past and present, speak at the presentation of The People’s Champions – a book by local journalist Gustavo Catalano about Huracán - known either as the quemeros (burners) or El Globo (hot-air balloon).

The People’s Champions is a tribute to last season. The club, rich in tradition but with multimillion dollar debts, put out a team fresh-faced youngsters mixed in with a couple of seasoned pros. A mid-table finish would have been considered a good season.

Yet they went out and played the most astonishing football. When asked about which teams Cappa likes to watch these days, he talks about Arsene Wegner’s Arsenal and Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. It shows. True to Cappa’s style and the club’s own tradition of ‘lyrical’ football, as they call it in Argentina, Huracán came within seven minutes of winning the title, playing great football as they went about doing so.

On the final day of the season, their fixture with Vélez turned out to be a straightforward title playoff. Gareca’s team scored a controversial winner to steal the league title. Cappa would say there was no metaphor in that last sentence. “We were robbed,” he declared.

Despite the alegría that Huracán brought with their football, not winning the title has taken its toll on the team. The club are 19th in the table. The stars of last season have moved on. The debt remains. And this weekend it’s time to open up the wound - they return to the scene of the crime to take on last season’s nemesis, Vélez.

Elsewhere this weekend… If Boca are awarded a penalty and you see Martín Palermo grab the ball, look away – or, if you want some comedy, press record. Famous for missing three penalties in a single game for Argentina against Colombia, the Loco did it again this week. It was only in a practice match, but still…

Javier García, the keeper who stopped the two that were on target, has faith in his captain. "I’m sure when there are points at stake he’ll put it away." Argie Bargy isn’t so sure.

Things aren’t good at River Plate, where coach Néstor Gorosito waited till Wednesday to speak to the media after rumours flew around Buenos Aires (he’s staying put).

His assistants, however, weren’t happy with the number of journalists at the press conference. “Hyenas” is what Gorosito’s No.2 called those present. But hyenas only appear when there’s carrion in sight. Gorosito really, really needs a win.

Oh, and there’s an Avallaneda clásico – Racing host Independiente. It’s been clear for some time that the home side don’t really want their neighbours anywhere near the Cilindro. While Independiente wait for their new ground to be completed, Racing refuse to let the Rojo use their stadium. And Racing only allowed 5,500 tickets for the visitors this weekend.

“I can understand teams wanting to let more of their own fans into games,’ said Independiente president Julio Comparada, “but I’m not sure Racing will fill the stadium.” Only River and Boca had more home fans last season, so expect Comparada to hear plenty about his comments come Sunday.

STATS: Argentina results, fixtures and table

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