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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Onto the finish line – South America’s elite fighting to reach knockout stages

Finally a breather. The international break in the football world gives the teams in the Copa Libertadores at least one week off from the prestigious competition. Some would point out that they don’t even need one, yes, I’m looking at you, Boca Juniors, Corinthians and Co. Others will see it as an opportunity to regroup down the final stretch.

Group 1 has seen three games for each team so far, and surprisingly Atlético Mineiro have just got 3 points so far out of a difficult away game at Santa Fe. Despite the fact that they have two home games left against Santa Fe and Colo-Colo, they need to improve to have a chance of advancing. Beating Atlas Guadalajara, who join them in last place, slowly developed into a must. Colo-Colo lead the group and have it in their own hands to put themselves in a good position for the finish.

The strongest group of the tournament, Group 2, is not any less intriguing. The champions of 2014, San Lorenzo, have their backs against the wall due to losses against the strong sides from Brazil. Corinthians with 9 points have won every game and are followed by local rivals São Paulo FC with 6. Without much of a chance meanwhile are the champions from Uruguay. Danubio FC have not won a single point yet. At least one favorite is going out of the competition here. Will it be the holders?

Group 3 is even tighter. After three games each, every team still has a realistic chance of advancing to the next round. This comes down to the fact that there are barely any goals being scored, as three of six games ended in a goalless draw. Brazil’s Cruzeiro managed to flip two goals into five points and therefore lead the group. If you want to search the positives here, you could maybe say “at least the defense is amazing.” True, but it does not make the games particularly entertaining. Universitario Sucre from Bolivia are a surprise second with 5 points as well. They are followed by Argentinian cup winners Huracán (3 points) and Mineros de Guyana (1).

Already 4 match weeks have been played in Group 4. CS Emelec from Ecuador have done the best so far. They won their first two matches in convincing fashion against U de Chile and The Strongest. Afterwards they faced the favorites Internacional from Brazil and dropped off a little, managing only one point in those games. The Brazilians are in second with 7 points as well. The Strongest are traditionally extremely strong at home. That showed when they beat Internacional 3-1 in the opener, as well as in the massively entertaining 5-3 victory against U de Chile. If they beat Emelec (again on home ground) in the next game, it would give them a chance to advance. Universidad de Chile round of the group with only 3 points so far. It does not look good for Chile’s second biggest club, they have two must-win’s against Internacional and Emelec.

The first team that already qualified for the knockout stages can be found in Group 5. Boca Juniors won all four games and only need one point in the next game against the Montevideo Wanderers to assure themselves top spot. In addition, they scored a tournament best 14 goals, which probably makes them early favorite for the Copa. Wanderers, who play in Nacional’s stadium, the Gran Parque Central, do not appear to suffer any negative side effects from that. They beat Zamora and Palestino right there, and also managed an away draw at the Chilean side. Being a mathematician as you are, you already figured out that it gives them 7 points and puts them in second place. Palestino are three points behind, but still have to play against Boca as well. The chances that anything changes here are probably slim. Zamora is last and out with zero points still.

Group 6 includes the second team that can plan for the next round. UANL Tigres from Mexico have done very well so far in collecting 10 points. Juan Aurich is second with 5. But wait, wasn’t River Plate in this group? You are right, they are one of the big disappointments so far. After having won the Copa Sudamericana, many saw them as favorites for the Copa Libertadores, but that does not seem to happen right now. Not a single win, all three points come from draws against Tigres and Juan Aurich (twice). In the away game at Tigres, they desperately need a win, as it could be all over for them if Juan Aurich win at Club San José. Which is naturally a difficult task though since the Bolivians play 3700m above the sea level in thin air. That advantage only helped them to three points so far though.

Two home wins have put Estudiantes in a good position in Group 7. Barcelona SC and Libertad did not have much of a chance in Argentina’s capital. Libertad still joins Estudiantes with 7 points at the top, as they countered with a home win against the favorites by themselves. Atlético Nacional from Colombia have every chance themselves still. Only two points behind first place, with games left against those exact teams. The home loss on the last matchday against Barcelona SC (their only win and points) hurts a lot, as a win would have put them into the lead. Barcelona has no realistic chance to make it out of this group.

If strong Argentinian teams are a story, let’s move on to Group 8. Racing Club, team of Mr. Hat Trick Gustavo Bou and Diego Milito, dominates their opponents so far with three wins in four games. The only slip-up came in the fourth matchweek, when they lost at home against Sporting Cristal. Those Peruvians will fight for second place with Guaraní until the end. At the moment, both have 5 points, but it is all set for a dramatic finale: On the last day they will meet each other in Peru. Deportivo Táchira is last with only 2 points and will most likely go out of the competition early.

So here is what the round of 16 matchups would look like at the moment:

Boca Juniors vs Juan Aurich

Corinthians vs Guaraní

UANL Tigres vs Universitario Sucre

Racing Club vs Libertad

Colo-Colo vs Montevideo Wanderers

CS Emelec vs Internacional

Estudiantes vs Santa Fe

Cruzeiro vs São Paulo FC

Photo from the game between Colo-Colo and Atlético Mineiro (2-0)                   (© ESPN)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Loca Boca

I really, really love this stadium. “La Bombonera”, home of Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires. This Wednesday night it was sold out and a special atmosphere laid above the historic ground. And you could tell that both, fans and players, were feeling it.

Midfielder Marcelo Meli was the man of the first half in this game between Boca Juniors and Zamora. It took him just 37 minutes to collect a goal and two assists to practically decide the game and help the hosts stay perfect with three wins out of three games. Eight minutes in, Meli scored the first goal himself. Some people were not done celebrating yet, when Nicolas Lodeiro added to the lead by finishing off a beautiful combination for his first goal for the club. The Argentinians were in control at all times, Federico Carrizo made it count by adding a third. Halftime: 3-0. Home crowd: Happy.

In the second 45 minutes, one man was finally rewarded for his tireless work rate up front. Pablo Osvaldo (picture below on the left) with a tap-in (69’), and a penalty after being fouled himself (82’) made sure that Zamora did not come anywhere close to having a chance in this game. 5-0 was the end result, but Osvaldo should have had a hat trick. A good goal was taken away from him due to a wrong offside decision. Despite that, a lot of happy people in blue and green celebrated another win and the continuously good start to the new season.


Below you find the video highlights of the game.

Since the Montevideo Wanderers beat Palestino 1-0, the table in group 5 looks as follows: Boca Juniors lead the way with 9 points followed by Wanderers with 6. Palestino have 3, while things are not looking too bright for Zamora in fourth, still with zero points.


Copyright notice: Picture taken from

Monday, March 9, 2015

Gustavo Bou – Mr. Hat Trick

If 2014 was any indication of what was about to come, you already knew this guy. Ten goals in 15 games for Racing Club with three assists on top meant quite the breakout year for the now 25 year old striker Gustavo Bou, which led to winning the Argentinian championship. Wearing number 7, he now forms a brilliant duo with the newly acquired Diego Milito. They were absolute money in the first two matches that Racing played, the end results speak for themselves: 5-0 away at Deportivo Táchira, 4-1 at home versus Guaraní. So far, so good. But the role Bou played in those games is exceptional. In the first one, he not only scored three goals, but also assisted the other two by Lollo and Milito. He followed up on that performance by scoring yet another hat trick against the Paraguayan side. Seven goals in four Copa Libertadores appearances (2 games with River Plate in 2009), so nearly two per game, is a feat that no one else can come up with. In addition, every single one of them was scored with his right foot. That does not leave much doubt about his strengths, since heading is not one of them with a body size of a rather short 1.75m.

But if he keeps playing like he is right now, who knows which clubs might get interested in Racing’s most successful striker. The next chance to demonstrate his abilities will come soon, as they host Sporting Cristal from Peru who have not won a game thus far.

Stats: Started 2 games, 156/180 total minutes.

6 goals, 2 assists (26 minutes per goal, 19:30 minutes per scorer point).

Next game: Racing Club vs Sporting Cristal, Wednesday 1:45am CET.


Friday, March 6, 2015

No Fiesta Mexicana

The most South American of all South American countries is going to be the focus of this blog entry. Mexico has two clubs in the competition, and both of them played this week with attractive opponents, while being the outsiders themselves. Is it possible that at least one of them surprises? Read and find out.

On Wednesday evening, Atlas Guadalajara visited Chile, to be exact the before-mentioned Colo-Colo, who were excellent hosts with a nearly full stadium offering a frenetic atmosphere. The game started with the guests from Mexico on the front foot, who had eight shots in the first half alone. But all those attempts went for nothing, it remained 0-0 at halftime.

Colo-Colo countered with a strong second, holding the Mexicans to a minor amount of just one shot in the second half, while getting more opportunities themselves. Led by Humberto Suazo and Esteban Paredes, the Chileans forced Atlas back into a defensive mode, which inevitably led to the first goal. Jaime Valdés was pushed in the back from behind, the referee did not have much other choice than to give a penalty. Paredes provided a cool finish, 1-0. Twelve minutes later (82’), Atlas’ centre back Walter Kannemann got sent off for a second yellow card. Down to ten men and trying to find an equalizer, the grass was mown for Paredes to find a second goal in the last minute, tapping in an easy counter attack goal.


A day later, UANL Tigres came to Argentina to play a difficult game away at River Plate in Buenos Aires. Or was it going to be that difficult? Tigres started into the group with a 3-0 home win against Juan Aurich, while River lost 0-2 at Club San José.

River started the game on the front foot, as you would expect, creating a lot of chances against the Mexican side. Unfortunately for the Argentinians, they led to nothing, instead Joffre Guerrón gave the visitors a surprising lead in the 40th minute, leaving behind Chiarini to score the opening goal with a cool finish. Would there be something to celebrate for the Central American country after all?

You guessed the answer: no. It took until the 72nd minute, until the magnificent Carlos Sánchez, who ended up with six shots alone, put home an absolutely outstanding volley goal, for which alone you should watch the video highlights below. In addition, it made for an exciting end to the game. Both teams did not find the back of the net anymore though, and despite a 21-6 shot advantage for River Plate, the game ended in a draw. Tigres can mainly thank their goalkeeper, Nahuel Guzmán, for a point out of this game.

All in all, the bottom line of this week? No Fiesta Mexicana. Both, Atlas and Tigres, showed some good approaches, but were beaten or outplayed by teams that played better when it mattered and could build on their strong home support. Atlas Guadalajara now sits in third place in group 1, three points behind Santa Fe and Colo-Colo. Group 6 is lead by Tigres who have 4 points, and therefore one more than Club San José and Juan Aurich. River Plate sit last with just the one point from last night’s game. This is a good setup for more exciting games in the fight for the round of 16.