Maradona: Boca boss is "a big fat steak"
Today: The season kicks off, a goal makes up for love tiff, and Maradona gets the insults out
It's here!!! Yay!!!! Pah-Pah!!! Toot toot! The football season has arrived!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No more of the banal discussion that plague the sports press in the off-season (how they managed to fill pages and pages of debate about Simeone's formation for the River squad I shall never know). No more of the photos of the Boca squad playing beach football. No more inane You Tube links of semi naked women (OK maybe a few). But now, at last, the clausura (the closing season) is upon us and we can talk about real football.
The apertura (opening season) was thrilling and historical. Three tiny teams came in the top three: LanÃÂºs, Tigre and Banfield, knocking the 'Big Five' of Boca, River, Independiente, San Lorenzo and Racing back to rethink their squad a little Ã¢ÂÂ Boca and River are among those with fresh coaches.
The fans, as you would expect, were amazing and many clubs claimed their highest gate receipts in years. Getting into a Boca game was akin to breaking into the US Federal Reserve dressed as a monkey, and apart from the ongoing problems in the River barra brava, hooligans had a relatively, and I mean relatively, peaceful season.
So without further ado here is the first part of the tantalising line up for the opening fixtures of the season.
Friday February 8
San Lorenzo v Newell's Old Boys
Da..da da da.. NEWS JUST IN...da da da... Reports are just coming in about a fight in the San Lorenzo dressing room. Apparently a bout of fisticuffs broke out between defender Christian Tula and -year-old goalie Bruno Centeno.
"He [Tula] followed him into the changing rooms hitting him and now he [Centeno] has told me he wants to leave," said the youngster's representative. There is no news yet whether the police will be brought in.
What is certain is that it spoiled an otherwise good day for the CiclÃÂ³n (Cyclone Ã¢ÂÂ presumably after the short temper of their players): AndrÃÂ©s D'Alessandro landed this morning in Ezeiza airport to join the club from Real Zaragoza. If you haven't seen much of D'Alessandro, check these clips of him in action to see why it's such a big deal.
And now the big-spending RamÃÂ³n DÃÂaz, has announced that Gonzalo Bergessio, currently at Benfica, is likely to return to his native land.
Estudiantes v Banfield
After a surprisingly good season (they finished third) Banfield are hoping to capitalise on their good run on into the new season. They will be travelling the couple of hours to play La Plata Estudiantes, who won the 2006 Opening season under Diego Simeone's tenure. Former Lazio coach Roberto Sensini is now at the helm, once again managing one Juan SebastiÃÂ¡n VerÃÂ³n.
Saturday February 10
San Martin v Argentinos Juniors
Maradona's first club have a long trek to San Martin in the scorching hot city of San Juan. I'm sat here in my shorts sweating like a pre-stomach stitched Maradona in a baking Buenos Aires (too much info?) but San Juan is unbearable, well above 37C today anyway.
San Martin are playing only their third ever season in the top flight (the first was in 1970 and then last season). Argentinos Juniors however are a small team with big ambitions and a consistently good run in the league. (I declare an interest living a few blocks from the Argentinos stadium and watching them more than any other team).
Tigre v Gimnasia
Tigre, the tiny team from the river Delta north of Buenos Aires, finished an amazing second last season. A stunning achievement in the first season they have played in the Primera Division since 1955 and featuring a memorable 4-1 victory over River Plate.
They were promoted in a game against Nueva Chicago in which, in an attempt to stop play, Chicago's notorious barra brava caused some of the worst violence... well, probably since the last time Chicago played.
Tigre take on Gimnasia, another team from La Plata and the hated rivals of Estudiantes. The team has had a poor run of late and a string of managers; they are now managed by former VÃÂ©lez SÃÂ¡rsfield goal keeper Julio CÃÂ©sar Falcioni.
In other news: 'Liitle Rabbit' scores and makes up
Last night's glorious win 3-0 over Olmedo for LanÃÂºs in their first ever Copa Libertadores was particularly special for one lucky girl. We don't know the full story, but goalscorer Santiago Biglieri (check out some of his great goals) dedicated the strike to his girlfriend.
"It was the most important goal of my career. I dedicate it to my girlfriend because we had a fight, and I hope with this she'll forgive me."
Biglieri is known as El Conejito or the Little Rabbit Ã¢ÂÂ perhaps a clue to why he got into the fight in the first place.
Never really known for his eloquence off the field, Maradona appears to have trumped all (and there have been many) previous insults with this little gem: he announced that the new Boca manager, Carlos Ischia, is "a big fat steak".
The background is that Diego's at loggerheads with Pedro Pompillo, the president of his beloved club, apparently upset because he was promised the job of general coordinator (whatever that may be) Ã¢ÂÂ and then denied it. He has been in a huff ever since.
He is happy with the make-up of the national Olympic under-23 team (with Riquelme and Mascherano named as two of three over 23s allowed to play) who have a friendly tonight against Guatemala. But he says he'd like to coach the Olympic team. Or was it Chelsea? Can someone please give him a job.
Police have now been stationed outside AthlÃÂ©tico Victoriano Arenas' stadium (see yesterday's blog Balls to this) in an attempt to stop the countless Ã¢ÂÂ and cunning Ã¢ÂÂ robberies that have been taking place.