While most European leagues are winding down right now, Argentina’s Clausura still has seven weeks of action left! Even better, everything is very much up for grabs. There’s only a six point gap between first place and seventh place. Keep this in mind in a couple weeks when your favorite Euro clubs head to the beach for the summer and you’ve got nothing left to watch (except MLS).
Looking Back: So Boca is still on top thanks to a tight 1-0 win over Colón. But they’ve only got a 1 point lead on Vélez, who defeated Estudiantes (just as I predicted). Newell’s is just a point behind them after drawing with fifth place All Boys in the battle of the Boys. Fourth place Tigre drew with Belgrano, and they’re still in very hot relegation water. My beloved Independiente beat Banfield to move into the top half of the table for the first time this year. Woo hoo!
The golden boot table remains unchanged, so even the best scorers are only averaging a goal every other match. Rest assured, the next Lionel Messi is not currently playing in the Clausura.
Midweek Gossip and Other Nonsense: Back to Independiente, club president Javier Cantero was “squeezed” by the barra brava, who have been feuding with him since he was elected at the end of last year on a platform of marginalizing the thugs. They broke into his office and he traded insults with them. They’re upset because he won’t let them store their drums and other paraphernalia inside the stadium. He better hire himself some bodyguards.
Speaking of bodily harm, a couple Argentinos Jrs players were victims of a robbery and assault (Span link) this week when they were leaving an ATM in the tony Puerto Madero neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Forward Sebastián “the bullfighter” Balsas actually received a knife wound in his thigh during the altercation, but is expected to be okay. This is part of an ongoing scary trend of criminals targeting players, which never used to happen. I think it’s at least the fourth of fifth incident this year, including carjackings, kidnappings, and break-ins. Sad.
Looking Forward: There’s a lot of matchups this weekend between teams in the title hunt and teams down on their luck. Vélez gets 15th place Argentinos Jrs on Saturday while Boca is planning to send in a youth squad to face 14th place Atl Rafaela on Sunday. Falcioni may be resting starters for Copa Libertadores matchups. Newell’s gets dead last Olimpo. There’s an Avellaneda min-derby on Saturday when Independiente visits Arsenal. Close ties between those two clubs. Another interesting matchup Sunday is Estudiantes at Racing, even though both teams suck right now. They’re not playing well, but these are big clubs with some talent on the rosters.
I’m hoping Boca’s youth gamble fails and either Vélez or Newell’s snatch the lead away from them.