Tango Ball: Week Seven

Abal and his linesmen under fire.

Messi and Tevez have stolen most of the midweek headlines in Argentina with their exploits in Europe. A horrendous error with potential relegation implications was the main topic of conversation resulting from last weekend’s action in Tango Ball.

Apropos of nothing, let me tell you a bit about CA Unión de Santa Fe. Unión is a 104 year old club from the city of Santa Fe (duh), the ninth largest city in Argentina. They’re known as Los Tatengues, which is a very old nickname for the wealthy socialites from the center of the city. Basically, this was the hipster club back in the day. Though the club has never finished better than second in Argentina’s top division (back in 1979), Unión has produced some of Argentina’s most distinguished players, including ’78 World Cup champion Leopoldo Luque, ’86 World Cup champion Nery Pumpido, and national team stars like Pedro Monzón and Alberto Acosta. Their derby rivals are Colón de Santa Fe, and they play their home games at the Estadio 15 de Abril, which was inaugurated on April 15, 1929 and holds a cozy 22,300 fans.

Looking Back: Tigre has their claws wrapped tightly around the league lead despite a draw against Estudiantes. Boca managed a win against San Martín to move within a point of the Matador from Victoria, while Vélez drew 3-3 against Unión (the goalfest of the week) to edge out Estudiantes for 3rd place. The Clausura title is still very much up for grabs with 13 weeks to go. Independiente worked their way out of the bottom of the table with a win against Belgrano. Your golden boot leader is still Gastón “The Cat” Caprari, but he’s been stuck on 5 for a week or two now and there’s several players right behind him with 4, including Ernesto “Piano Key” Farías, Darío “Ronaldin” Gandín, Lucas “Foot” Castro, and Andrés “Still No Alias” Franzoia.

Midweek Gossip and Other Nonsense: So let’s talk about the San Lorenzo v. Colón match. As you know, San Lorenzo needs to WIN WIN WIN in order to get out of the relegation zone, especially since Tigre is on a tear. If Tigre keeps winning and San Lorenzo don’t, they could find themselves in a promotion playoff or worse come June. Thus, you can imagine how Cuervo fans felt when this happened in the 23rd minute:

So that’s referee Diego Abal calling a goal for Colón when everybody on the pitch and in the entire stadium (except him, of course) saw the linesman call for offsides. Abal’s justification was that, in his judgment, the San Lorenzo defender intentionally passed the ball to the Colón player who was offside, therefore he was free to play. This is totally nuts.

Poor Abal has received multiple death threats after San Lorenzo fans published his home phone and address on Twitter, and he’s been given the weekend off (Spanish link), probably for his own safety.

Now, I sympathize with San Lorenzo fans for feeling robbed by the referee, and it’s pretty obvious he screwed up royally, but the sad reality is that the result of this bad call was nothing more than that Colón went up 1-0 with 67 minutes left in the match. Plenty of time to turn it around, right? You can’t claim that Abal forced San Lorenzo to drop points here. Maybe if San Lorenzo had been in the lead and Colón equalized in the dying minutes of the match, but that’s not how it went down. So sorry for your troubles, San Lorenzo. The fact is you’re in the relegation zone because your team sucks, not because a referee made a bad call.

Looking Forward: I’m feeling seriously underwhelmed by this weekend’s match slate. The action starts tonight when table footers Banfield face All Boys. MEH. Saturday’s matches all suck. On Sunday, you’ve got Argentinos v. Estudiantes, worth watching because The Rat Pincher is still in the title mix, Tigre v. Arsenal, and Boca v. Lanús. The best match of the weekend is probably Vélez v. Newell’s on Monday night. NOB is only two points behind El Fortín and could leapfrog them with a win. Week 8 actually looks a bit better, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Enjoy the footie this weekend, folks.

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