NOW things are getting very interesting. The carnage from week seven’s battles left us with some tantalizing matchups heading into week eight. This is when we finally get to see some of the title contenders battling for supremacy. If you’ve been on the fence about Tango Ball so far, now’s the time to GTFI.
Looking Back: Where to start? Well, Estudiantes beat Argentinos 2-1 to go top of the table, but Boca were confident they would regain the top spot by beating Lanús. Unfortunately, they squandered a 2-0 lead and ended up tying 2-2. Thank you, Lanús! Meanwhile, Tigre’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal saw them lose control of the table and drop to third. Plus it complicates their dire relegation issues. So Estudiantes are #1, with Boca and Tigre a point behind. The surprise upset of the weekend was Newell’s beating Vélez on the road, which puts the NOB at #4 while Vélez drops to #5.
Your golden boot frontrunner is still Gastón “The Cat” Caprari with five, which makes me think something must be wrong with the stats I’m getting. Maybe not. There’s six players with four goals a piece.
Olimpo and Tigre are still in the direct relegation zone, while San Lorenzo and Rafaela would go into the promotion playoffs if the league ended today.
Midweek Gossip and Other Nonsense: So, San Lorenzo lost again. The players got into a bit of a scuffle with abusive fans while boarding the team bus, and had to be separated by security. Nothing out of the ordinary (Spanish link, though you’ll be rewarded with video of the chaos if you click on it).
The latest rumors suggest that Julio “The Godfather” Grondona has nailed down a plan to redesign the league starting next season, and I like what I hear (Spanish link). There would be a return to the traditional league format of old, with a 38 game season. The relegation averages system would not be scrapped, but it would be modified as follows: each year the team at the bottom of the table gets relegated along with the two teams with the lowest relegation averages. The promotion playoffs would be history. I really hope AFA goes for this. They’re supposed to discuss it on April 10th.
There was a shootout (‘nother Spanish link) before the Boca match on Sunday. The details are convoluted, but it seems that Boca’s official “fan club”, La Doce, controls the parking racket outside the stadium. There’s several open lots where fans park after paying members of La Doce, and some of those lots were recently designated for development by the city, meaning La Doce will lose some space to handle cars. They tried to move in on the groups that control the parking racket on city streets, which resulted in fisticuffs and one unfortunate drive-by shooting on a scooter which saw the brother of San Lorenzo’s keeper shot in the ankle. Bizarre. If I was going to La Bombonera, I’d probably take a cab.
Speaking of Boca, their shiny new striker has a bit of a Torres streak going (Spanish link). Santiago “Tank” Silva has now gone seven games (630 minutes) without scoring for Boca. Too bad Boca doesn’t have any Championship sides he can pick on. Silva says he’s confident and plans to score this weekend. We’ll see.
Looking Forward: As promised, some really juicy stuff this week: Vélez v. San Lorenzo is a sort of de facto clásico. The two clubs are not traditional derby rivals, but they’ve had a very intense (and often violent) rivalry for a decade or more now. The chance for Vélez to deepen San Lorenzo’s relegation crisis while simultaneously staying in the title hunt is probably tantalizing for Fortín fans. I can almost guarantee shenanigans before, during or after this match, either on the pitch, in the stands, or outside. There will be blood.
A resurgent Newell’s could ruin Alfio “Coco” Basile’s day when they host Racing on Sunday. Racing is coming off an ugly loss and will have their hands full against Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s boys.
Finally, the big game: league leaders Estudiantes host second place Boca Juniors Sunday night. This is practically must watch soccer. The two sides will have the benefit of knowing the rest of the weekend’s results, but regardless of how things shake out, this will be a great battle.