So league football is finished anywhere in Europe that matters, and all we’ve got left is the Champions League final tomorrow and the Copa del Rey final next week. Then it’s summer internationals of varying importance and interest. But wait! You could still be watching exciting league football on a weekly basis, and I’m not talking about MLS! There’s five weeks left in Argentina’s Clausura, and nothing is settled yet. Let’s get right to the action.
Looking Back: Vélez earned a scoreless draw against Boca Juniors to unseat them from the top of the table. Newell’s capitalized on the dropped points by beating Unión, 3-1. So NOB now has a 2 point lead over Boca. Tigre and Arsenal are still in spitting distance, three points behind Newell’s. On the relegation front, Olimpo, Tigre, San Martin and San Lorenzo are in the hot seat. Dario “Ronaldin” Gandín and Carlos “Chino” Luna are your golden boot frontrunners with seven onion bag bulges apiece.
Now, in case you’re new to this league and wondering who the fat cats and minnows are, etc., allow me to explain. The Argentine FA hasn’t monetized the clubs and put them up for sale to private investors yet, so there are no Arab sheikhs, Russian oil barons, American financiers, or Indian chicken magnates (thank God) to be found. Every team is basically run like your local Knights of Columbus, but with slightly larger budgets. This means that the ability of a club to be successful depends in part on their history, popularity, and on club directors avoiding eggregious corruption that would squander the club’s resources. Oh, and signing the right players and coaching staff, obviously.
The league can somewhat now be divided between the “old” Big clubs like Boca Jrs, River Plate (currently in relegation), Racing, Independiente, and the “new” Big clubs like Estudiantes, Vélez, Newell’s and some others. Most of the “old” Big clubs have been struggling a lot lately, Boca excepted. So the tension in the league surrounds the “new” Big clubs finding ways to beat Boca and establish themselves. As defending champions, Boca is under pressure.
Midweek Gossip and Other Nonsense: Caruso Lombardi. I’ve mentioned him before in this space. The San Lorenzo manager earned himself a fare amount of media attention earlier this week when he was arrested for brawling in the street with an ex-San Lorenzo assistant coach. The details are murky, but apparently this ex-coach Fabian Garcia ambushed Caruso and slugged him, giving him a black eye. What happened next can be seen below.
Fun times. I hope Caruso gets a chance to manage a Premier League club someday. It would be endlessly amusing.
Looking Forward: league leaders Newell’s face Tigre tonight in what should be an entertaining match. I hear Denis “Stracq Attack” Stracqualursi has been let go by Everton and will return to Tigre, but I doubt he’ll suit up for them tonight (I’m not even sure he would be allowed to do so). The “big” game of the weekend is on Sunday, when Racing face Boca Juniors. Boca will win this, hands down, but it’s still a classic matchup even if it’s not officially a derby. If you do venture into the world of Tango Ball this weekend, drop a comment about your experience. Enjoy the games.