Time to check back in on our favorite South American Chickens. Why? Because they dropped points, that’s why! If you haven’t figured it out yet, this series feeds on the tears of the River Plate faithful, and there haven’t been very many tears lately, as they’ve been doing quite well.
Buuut, they hit a snag when they came up against third place Quilmes. The brewers held River to a scoreless draw. For you hopheads (and I know there’s a lot of you on this blog), Club Atlético Quilmes is located in the city of Quilmes, just south of Buenos Aires, which happens to be the home of Argentina’s national brewery by the same name. Their most popular product is a lager that you won’t be too hard-pressed to find in a latin grocery if you live anywhere near a US population center for Argentine ex-pats (eg. Miami, NY, Chicago, DC). They do make other varieties of beer, but for the most part, this is the Budweiser of Argentina.
The darker side of Quilmes is that way back in the 17th century, the city was founded as a sort of forced resettlement camp for the Quilmes indigenous tribe from northern Argentina. They’d been giving the Spanish colonists such a hard time, the conquistadores decided to move them all to a location near Buenos Aires where they could more easily supervise them (read: systematically wipe them off the face of the earth). However, don’t make the assumption that the football club Quilmes is named after an Indian tribe. In the mind of the average Argentine soccer fan, they represent beer. Cold, watered-down, inexpensive beer.
Another interesting feature of Quilmes is their manager, one Ricardo Caruso “The Great Coach” Lombardi, who kinda looks like Jack Black with a goatee. Lombardi is a disciple of the Diego Maradona School of Media Relations, which means he’s always good for a funny, controversial, or downright offensive soundbite. He went through a scandal a year or two ago (don’t make me look it up, please) where a Colombian player alleged that Lombardi asked him for a bribe in exchange for playing time. He was fired over this (and terrible results on the pitch), but you can’t keep a guy like Lombardi down. He’s even been tagged as the next coach of San Lorenzo. Because they’re desperate.
Anyhoo, Caruso has openly admitted (Spanish link) that his strategy against River was to play to a draw and throw Los Millos off their game by employing some not-so subtle Jedi mind tricks. For starters, when River’s “Chori” Dominguez went down in the box looking for a penalty, Lombardi started making fun of him. He mocked him for having long hair and called him names. You have to watch the clip below because it’s rather funny. Watch Lombardi mimic el Chori playing with his hair, around the 1:08 mark. Then if you read his lips, you can see he calls Chori a very vulgar name that suggests he prefers to have sex with men. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Dominguez responded by accusing Lombardi of having paid off the referee (plausible for Lombardi, probably more insulting to the ref). When River manager Almeyda saw him making fun of his star forward, he rushed over to add a few words of his own. SUCKER. He played right into Lombardi’s trap. Both coaches were ejected, which was enough to disorient the River squad and help Quilmes keep a clean sheet.
Dirty tactic? Sure. Evil genius? Most definitely.
The River camp and Lombardi have since been exchanging pleasantries and euphemisms for “fuck that guy” in the press. But Lombardi got what he wanted: he stole points from the biggest club in the league. With a win over Rosario Central, Instituto lept past River Plate to take back the league lead. The top four in Nacional B are pretty close now: Instituto on 46 pts, River Plate 44, Quilmes 43, and Rosario Central 40. Not bad for 23 games in.
This weekend, River face sixth place Defensa y Justicia (who are coming off a win) on the road. Defensa is known as “the Hawk” and they wear yellow and green kits, so they’re the Norwich City of Nacional B. Almeyda will be watching from the stands thanks to Caruso. Instituto has a road game against 14th place Patronato, and Quilmes face off against Deportivo Merlo.