This sucks. I don’t even know why I’m doing this. Please understand, although I’m an ardent fan of Independiente and Argentine soccer in general, for the last decade or so, I tended to follow the league at arm’s length. Check in on the standings here and there, etc. This is honestly the first season in a while where I’ve followed it as closely as I can being thousands of miles away: checking results every weekend, watching or listening to games whenever possible, and reading up on all the midweek crap in the sports dailies.
So how do I get rewarded for my efforts?
Four straight losses and an early cup elimination. Bottom of the table. That’s just embarrassing.
More on Independiente’s misery in a bit, but for now let’s get straight to last weekend’s results.
Looking Back: Last week I predicted Boca, Tigre, and Vélez would be co-leaders after the dust settled, and I was only slightly off. Vélez only managed a draw against All Boys, while Boca beat San Lorenzo and Tigre beat Lanús. We’ve now got three players tied for the pichichi lead with four goals (not a lot of scoring in this league so far, sadly): Darío “Ronaldin” Gandín, Gastón “The Cat” Caprari, and Andrés “Insert Nickname Here” Franzoia.
The result of the week goes to Argentinos Juniors, who despite losing their manager to a car wreck (he survived but had to quit so he can focus on his lengthy rehab), went on the road to Avellaneda and beat my lame excuse for a favorite club Independiente 3-1 (hey! we scored a goal at least). The match featured a half hour delay due to problems with the stadium lighting shortly after Argentinos scored their first goal. Oh how I wish referee Federico “Fede” Beligoy had simply suspended the match rather than giving Independiente’s electricians a chance to resolve the issue.
Independiente haven’t started a season with four straight losses since the 1950s, and manager Ramón “Pelado” Diaz resigned shortly after the match. He accepted full responsibility for the team’s play, and while I don’t doubt for a second that he did a terrible job coaching this team, the fact is this squad sucks. Hard. The club simply lacks the players to be competitive right now, and with massive debts, there won’t be significant improvements on the horizon anytime soon.
Under the interim management of reserves coach Cristian Diaz (no relation), the club promptly got eliminated from the Copa Argentina midweek, adding insult to injury. Américo “Tolo” Gallego sounds like the anointed replacement, but he’s just another pepper shaker off the mediocre coaches lazy susan, so I’m not getting my hopes up.
Enough about this.
Midweek Gossip and Other Nonsense: Look! Boca Juniors lost a game! Brazil’s Fluminense came into La Bombonera Wednesday night and defeated Los Bosteros in a Copa Libertadores group match. Joy! Ecstasy! Hoorah! Julio César “The Emperor” Falcioni had his club on a 36 match unbeaten streak that dates back nearly a year, but that’s all over now. We were all Flu fans for a night.
San Lorenzo is still on the knife’s edge when it comes to the relegation table, and the loss to Boca on Sunday didn’t help matters. As a diversion from the team’s woes, fans staged a massive protest (Spanish link) in front of Argentina’s “Pink House” presidential palace in support of a legislative measure that would restore the club’s ancestral grounds. I can’t get into details here, but the short of it is that the country’s military dictators expropriated the club’s land in the late 70s as a political punishment, razing the Gasómetro stadium and selling the land to a supermarket. Ouch. San Lorenzo fans have been trying to get their old home back ever since.
Looking Forward: As if matters couldn’t get worse for Independiente, they get a road game against Boca on Sunday! Oh joy! Why don’t we just give them the three points now and call it a weekend? League co-leaders Tigre also get a somewhat easy game against Banfield. Tigre needs to pretty much win out the season if they want to have a chance of escaping relegation. I wonder what would happen if Tigre won the league but still got relegated? Maybe AFA would make an exception. Tango Ball is crazy like that.
Other interesting games: All Boys v. Racing. All Boys are playing well, Racing is not. This is a good thing. Another good matchup would be tonight’s Estudiantes v. Lanús. Check that out if your Friday night plans get canceled.