River Plate kicked off the second half of their quest to return to first division football in Argentina with a visit to lowly Almirante Brown (aka “The Frigate”), currently seventh in the Nacional B table, six points behind River. For all the reinforcements Almeyda brought in and all the friendlies the club played against top level clubs last month, they only managed a tepid 1-1 draw (Spanish link).
Fernando “Little Bull” Cavenaghi had opened the scoring for River in the 13th minute, but Diego “2,000 Flushes”* Cisterna equalized on a Pinball Madness scenario in River’s penalty box ten minutes later. Scoring chances would be few and far between for Los Millos from that point on.
Now, as you can see from the photo above, Almirante Brown’s home ground makes my high school football field look like Lucas Oil Stadium. Conditions are less than ideal even for Nacional B, and River gaffer Matías “Buzzcut” Almeyda decided to complain about the vegetation:
“…the grass was very long, but they are at home and they tried to take advantage in every possible way. That really ate up our legs. You couldn’t even see the players’ boots. Despite that, I think this point will serve us well.”
Almirante Brown’s manager, Blas “Triple Egg” Giunta responded to Almeyda’s comments rather sardonically:
“If he’s complaining about the tall grass, tell him to send me a gardener. Have him come with a riding mower, we don’t even have one of those here. Then we’ll cut it for him.”
Giunta added an interesting side note to this match, as he is a former Boca Juniors player known for his “leave it all on the pitch” workrate. Whenever he played, Boca fans would chant “Giunta, Giunta, Giunta! Huevo, huevo, huevo!” Anyhoo, here’s the highlights:
You might be wondering about Trezeguet. Well, it didn’t take long for the dark shadow of pestering leg injuries to cast itself over the aging Franco-Argentine once again. “Dah-veed” pulled a muscle early in River’s second Superclásico against Boca Juniors on the 29th and had to be subbed off. He’s been working to get back on the pitch and is expected to play next week against Chacarita Juniors, who are bottom of the table. I prefer to take a wait and see attitude when it comes to Trezeguet’s fitness.
Fortunately for River Plate, league leaders Instituto wasted an opportunity to extend their two point advantage, playing out a scoreless draw against Ferrocarril Oeste. The long slog through Nacional B continues.
Finally, keep an eye on this blog as later in the week I’ll debut a weekly preview/review/news roundup series for Argentina’s first division.
*Nickname possibly made up.