Colombians win competition against Ecuador's Independiente del Valle.


What makes the two young Rosario Central players Franco Cervi and Giovani Lo Celso the players they are?


An interview with Uruguayan sports journalist Nicolás Difiori ahead of Sunday's Clásico.


Taking a look at the next great Argentinian #5, the next Javier Mascherano.


Colombians win the Copa Sudamericana after penalty thriller against Huracán.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rock you like a Huracán

I already had the pleasure to write a little about the Argentinian cup winners once, now there’s going to be some more of that. The group Huracán was drawn into, number three, has not seen a single game this season yet, so it all started here. Venezuela’s championship runner-up Mineros seemed all but unbeatable.

The game started way differently than the Scorpions famously sang. Mineros had lots of the ball in their opponent’s half, until the hosts finally woke up just after the tenth minute, hitting the crossbar with a spectacular volley effort. From now on, Huracán played like the favorite and had one chance after the other. By this point there was no way past looking up the name of the Venezuelan goalkeeper. Rafael Romo pulled off some fine saves and kept his team in it.

While I was still being fascinated by that, Mineros won a free kick on the edge of the area and Zamir Valoyes put the game on its head by slotting it low into the right corner. Huracán was not shocked though and kept having good chances and just as I thought of awesome headlines a la “Romo was not built in a game”, I realized that every empire must fall eventually. He made a mess of an easy ball and Lucas Villarruel took advantage, 1-1. With that, and the reserve keeper from Huracán for the injured Marco Díaz, we went into halftime.

The second half began like the first one ended, the Argentinians kept applying pressure on their guests and had shot after shot at Romo’s goal. Return of the empire? Rather a kingdom for a precise shot. On the other side, Mineros did not do it better in the 76th minute. They managed to hit both crossbar and post in only 5 seconds. Just as both teams seemed to want to showcase every way not to score, Valoyes was being brought down in the area and added a second goal for the guests by scoring the following penalty himself. It was not deserved, and it also did not hold for very long. Huracán captain Eduardo Dominguez added a goal via penalty himself, 2-2 and that was that.

The bottom line is that it was an entertaining game to watch, Huracán need to improve their finishing, while Mineros is not as much of an outsider as they were projected to be. Here are the video highlights of the game for you.

Friday, February 20, 2015

When Wanderers learn to fly

Once upon a time, a little group of Uruguayans started out from the small country to make history on the big continent. The task was a big one. In front of them stood Argentinians, Chileans and Venezuelans, threatening to overpower those that battled hard to be here.

That club are the Montevideo Wanderers and on Tuesday evening they started into the group stage, facing Zamora FC, Venezuelan champions of the past season. Wanderers sought the instant chance to make amends after dropping the first game of the new season back home in Uruguay 0-1 to El Tanque Sisley.

Now this one was just crazy. The game had all you wish for as a neutral, and since that’s what I am, I said “hell yeah”, leaned back and enjoyed the show. The drama started off with a red card for Zamora’s right back Ángel Mendoza in the 20th minute. They didn’t care much and proceeded to score the first goal five minutes later. John Murillo fired home a counter goal. Another five minutes passed until Wanderers were depleted too, as Adrian Colombino want sent to the shower as well. Gaston Rodriguez tied the game up in the last minute of the first half.

Zamora retook the lead via Flores’ beautiful strike in the 53rd, but lost a second player to a red card not far after. Luis Ovalle brought down substitute Reymundez in the area and received his second yellow of the evening. Nicolás Albarracin slotted the following penalty into the bottom right corner and we were tied again. At least for three minutes. Leandro Reymundez himself this time went up in the air and headed home a corner to turn the game on its head, 3-2 Wanderers.

You’re thinking this was it? Good one, but the referee had other plans. In added time he sent off two more players, one from each team after a coming together in the Uruguayans half, making it a total of five red cards. Combine that with the final score that remained 3-2 and you can imagine that this game was a treat to watch.


Wednesday saw the first appearance by Boca Juniors in this year’s competition. They went to the ones that beat Nacional in the qualification round, Palestino from Chile. If you expect another game that was all over the place, I have to disappoint you though. But once a week is enough for the heart, don’t you think?

I don’t know who keeps rescheduling these games on short notice, but I missed the first 15 minutes due to my calendar saying it was going to start an hour later. Either way, 0-0 still and all good. Some chances on both sides followed, but the game wasn’t really loaded with it. At least it had 4 yellow cards in 4 minutes? “Weak” you’d say if you also watched the previously described red card fest. It took until the 38th minute, when Andrés Chávez broke through the Chilean defense and scored the first goal of the game for Boca.

The second half started like the first one and was pretty even, Boca looked better technically, Palestino tried to find any holes in the Argentinian defense, which didn’t exist. That hole was found on the other side, when Lodeiro sliced open the back three once more, sending Sebastián Palacios in to score a second goal for the guests in the 69th. With that goal, the game was more or less decided. Palestino had the biggest chance to come within one 10 minutes from the end, a wide open header couldn’t be directed towards the goal. The game ended 2-0, it was not an undeserved win for Boca overall.


The holders San Lorenzo entered the competition on Thursday with a visit to Uruguay’s Danubio FC. Obviously they were also the favorite to win this game, in this tough group with the two sides from São Paulo there is pressure from week 1. I guess the hosts thought the same and went ahead themselves in the 11th minute when Matías Castro fought off the complete Argentinian defense to put the ball into the back of the net.

Despite the early disadvantage, San Lorenzo was in fact the better team, had more chances, it just would not pay off. At least until the last few minutes. Mauro Matos (86’) and Mauro Cetto (88’) turned the game around in an exciting finale and for a successful start for the defending champions.


Here are all the results of the first matchweek sorted in their respective groups:

1 Atlas Guadalajara vs Santa Fe 0-1; Colo-Colo vs Atlético Mineiro 2-0

2 Corinthians vs São Paulo FC 2-0; Danubio FC vs San Lorenzo 1-2         

4 Universidad de Chile vs Emelec 0-1; The Strongest vs Internacional 3-1            

5 Montevideo Wanderers vs Zamora 3-2; CD Palestino vs Boca Juniors 0-2        

6 UANL Tigres vs Juan Aurich 3-0; Club San José vs River Plate 2-0    

7 Libertad vs Atlético Nacional 2-2      

8 Deportivo Táchira vs Racing Club 0-5; Guaraní vs Sporting Cristal 2-2      

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Top 10 – South American clubs qualified (Part 2)

One of the most famous squads to ever play for Internacional was called “The Steamroller”. In just 9 years starting in the early 1940s, the extremely offensive minded team won eight Rio Grande do Sul championships. Part of that success leads back to the decision to accept black players on the team, which local rival Grêmio did not do until 1952. These circumstances had people call Internacional “The People’s club.”

Another Brazilian club, Corinthians, had other problems on their hands in the past. Two Italian teams came to Brazil to tour across the country and play friendlies against the locals. A handful Corinthians fans of Italian ancestry were inspired to found their own club, which led to a split of the fan base. The club’s name? Palmeiras. The Consequence? The fiercest rivalry in São Paulo.

Let’s move on to a team called “Pincharratas”, rat stabbers. Estudiantes are named after Felipe Montedónica, who carried the nickname because he used to chase after the rats in the La Plata market. He can be seen on a lot of pictures together with some players. Another origin of the name is the work done by medicine students who were some of the first members of the club.

Atlético Mineiro, 42-time winner of the state championship, leads us back to Brazil. You wonder what else is so special about them? In 2013, when winning their first Copa Libertadores against Olimpia Asuncion, they were the comeback kings of the tournament. In the semi final as well as in the final, they erased a 0-2 deficit from the first leg, winning both ties on penalties. Centre back Leandro Silva became the hero, scoring in the 87th minute of the final to send the game to extra time, only to also score the decisive penalty.

Number 10 in this ranking goes to a country we have not been to before: to Chile. Well-sounding Colo-Colo are the most famous club of the country.

Colo_Colo_7da2d_450x450   estadio monumental colo colo aalt02

Their emblem as seen above is known across the globe. It shows Mapuche chieftain Colocolo, who led the Arauco War against the Spanish empire during the 1560s. When the club was founded in 1925, the legend was adapted for the badge.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Qualified - Those who made it and those who didn’t

On the last three days the second legs of the Copa Libertadores qualification round were held across South America.

Not really worth talking about is Huracán’s home game that ended in a 0-0 draw against Alianza Lima, as the Argentinians won the first game 4-0 in Peru. Despite the leg already being decided the teams did play ok for the most part and produced a handful of quality chances. The most awesome part for me was the entrance of the home team though.

In Tuesday’s late game, Bolivia’s The Strongest beat Mexico’s Monarcas Morelia 2-0 with two late goals in the last five minutes, giving them a 3-1 aggregate win and therefore advancing to the group stage.

Wednesday’s football part began with the realization to never bet on Copa Libertadores matches, because they are simply unpredictable. Having played a rather slow first half, Cerro Porteño and Deportivo Táchira exploded for a spectacular second. Chances up and down the field entertained every spectator. Three goals in seven minutes around the hour mark were the last ones in this game though, meaning Cerro Porteño who led twice, would end up drawing 2-2 and going out of the competition at home. Táchira meanwhile complete the Venezuelan trio that is already including Zamora and Mineros. The image below shows a midfield battle from that game (Táchira in yellow).


Afterwards, Corinthians, after the 4-0 win in the first leg (see introduction post) already with one foot in the door to the next round, had to fend off Once Caldas’ push for a comeback. They did just that in convincing fashion, even without a couple of suspended players. A 1-1 draw in the second leg was enough to enter a strong group consisting of champions San Lorenzo, São Paulo FC and Danubio Montevideo.

After a long seven day wait, the second leg of Nacional vs Palestino finally took place in Uruguay’s capital. The stage was set, and Nacional had to win by at least a two goal margin to overcome the 0-1 away loss. They had a much better first half than the 90 minutes of the first game, but still went down again after Renato Ramos headed in a cross in the 37th minute. Nacional fought back, scored two goals, an own goal and a beautiful one by young rising midfield star Pereiro, but it was not enough. Alonso had the biggest chance in the second half, but only hit the crossbar. All in all, you have to admit that Palestino deserves to go to the next round, having been the better team for large parts and playing very strong defensively in the second half last night.

Lastly, in the sixth game Estudiantes beat Independiente del Valle 4-0 and followed the other five teams into the group stage. This one was too late, so don’t ask me how it went. Here’s the highlights for you though, so you can see yourself.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Top 10 - South American clubs qualified (Part 1)

If you take a look at the all-time South American club team table, you won’t be surprised to find many Argentinian and Brazilian teams leading the way. But this won’t be about boring facts, this is one story you won’t hear often about each of the best 10 teams that qualified for the 2015 edition of the Copa.

One of the most iconic sides are the Boca Juniors in their blue and yellow. But why those colors? Stories suggest that in 1907, two years after the founding of the club, a decision game for the colors red and white was played between Boca and local archrivals River Plate. Boca lost and picked up the blue and yellow from the national flag of a Swedish ship that was anchored in La Boca at the time.

Said rival and Argentinian record champions River Plate meanwhile have their own storied history. In 1984, the club elected a new chairman: Hugo Santilli. With him came the idea of changing the club’s emblem to put an end to Boca fans mocking River Plate as chickens. The countries most famous artists sent in their proposals, chosen was a lion wearing a River jersey that rises out of the Monumental stadium. The club won a Copa with this logo, it was removed by the time Santilli left the club five years later and hasn’t been reestablished ever since.

       River_leon                   River-Plate-icon

One of the world’s most famous goalkeepers plays in Brazil, precisely for São Paulo FC. His name is Rogério Ceni, and he’s famous for…you guessed it, his goals. He scored way over 100 in his professional career, all of them coming from penalties and free kicks. He plays for São Paulo since 1993, last year Guinness World Records recognized him for most goals scored as a goalkeeper, most number of games played for the same club as well as amount of times as captain. Besides those impressive feats, he won the World Cup in 2002 with Brazil as the backup.

Cruzeiro do not have a goalkeeper as famous as Ceni, but they do have a mascot that tells a lot about their past. In 1945, a fox became the symbol of the club. The caricaturist was inspired by one of the former club presidents, Mario Grosso, who was known for his intelligence and skillfulness in leading the Brazilian club to success. Therefore the XI is often called “Raposa”, Portuguese for fox.

That leaves us with Uruguay’s Nacional. The club from Montevideo, along with Peñarol has some of the most passionate fans on the continent. That was shown in 2013, when supporters unreeled the largest flag ever seen in any stadium in the world. It is 600 meters long, cost about 53.000€ and covered three of four stands of the legendary Centenario stadium.


Part 2 will follow in the near future and include Internacional, Corinthians, Estudiantes, Atlético Mineiro and Colo Colo.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Introduction – Why Copa Libertadores?

During an evening the other day, I had a conversation with a friend about which countries we wanted to see, where we would like to spend time at. For me, it is easily answered with South America, specifically Uruguay. This has many different reasons, explaining them all would go too far at this point. Following that conversation, I watched a lot of related videos, read quite a few articles about the country, and as a life-long football fan I thought nothing would be more logic than to watch some South American football.

Which South American team would you support as a German you wonder? Having always liked Uruguay and having a friend in Montevideo that happens to be a Nacional supporter, the decision was basically already made years ago. One downside are the, for Europeans, sadly inevitable late kickoff times especially in the West of the continent.

Despite that, I managed to watch two games of the most famous American football competition, the Copa Libertadores, during the last week. Corinthians beat Once Caldas 4-0, even though they were down a man for long parts of the game after Paolo Guerrero was sent off early in the game. With Guerrero, Renato Augusto and Fagner, I got to see three familiar faces in the Brazilian side, who were all in the German Bundesliga not so long ago.

The second game took place a day after and what else would it be than Nacional opening their 2015 Copa campaign against Chilean side Palestino. I was very excited to see them play, that excitement took a hit quite early when CB Diego Polenta was sent off in the 35th minute of the game. They tried to hang on, goalkeeper Gustavo Munúa was outstanding, but Diego Rosende made it 1-0 for Palestino in the 69th minute. Nevertheless, I believe that Nacional can make up that one goal deficit at home and advance into the group stage with a meeting against Argentinian rivals Boca looming.

This week, three games (of the second legs) are scheduled to take place at “civil” times, I will try to watch at least two of them. The already pretty much decided Huracán vs Alianza Lima, Cerro Porteño vs Deportivo Táchira and Nacional vs Palestino.

Below I included some match highlights from the Corinthians and the Palestino win in the first leg. Both winning teams are playing in black and white.