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.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Copa Sudamericana – Semifinals Complete

The semifinals of the 2015 edition of the Copa Sudamericana are complete. After the Argentinian clubs Huracán and River Plate, as well as Paraguay’s Sportivo Luqueño, Santa Fe from Colombia reached the round of the last four the past night.


To the semis they go: Santa Fe have reached the round of the last 4 by beating Independiente (CONMEBOL).

In doing so, Santa Fe prevented the total Argentinian dominance that many feared ahead of the second legs by beating Copa Libertadores record champions Independiente 2-1 on aggregate. The Colombians profited especially from a strong first half, which saw them with most of the possession and chances. Defender Francisco Meza gave the hosts the lead in the 31st minute after heading a corner that was in the air for quite some time into the bottom left corner.

Independiente never got any clear cut scoring chances, even in the second half, while Santa Fe should have built further to their lead. In the 93rd minute, the surprising equalizer came via own goal from goalkeeper Robinson Zapata after a shot was deflected to the post and from there up into his face and into the net.

It was a goal that came a little too late as time was up right after. Here are the match highlights:

Notes from around the Copa Sudamericana:

Through their win last night, Santa Fe continue their impressive run. LDU Loja, Nacional, Emelec and now Independiente have been their victims thus far. Next opponent? Sportivo Luqueño, who have reached the semis through a 2-0 home win against Atlético Paranaense, erasing the 0-1 deficit from the first leg.

Wilson Morelo (Santa Fe) continues to lead the goalscoring race along with Bolaños and Núñez, but is the only player of those three left in the competition.

The other semifinal will be an all-Argetinian affair, because the Copa Sudamericana rules state that if two clubs from the same association are left, they have to face each other. That means River Plate (4-3 on aggregate vs Chapecoense) battle it out for a spot in the final with Huracán (1-0 on aggregate vs Defensor Sporting).

Not the worst chances to defend the title for Superchampion River, who counted on Carlos Sánchez in the quarterfinals. The Uruguayan scored 3 of the club’s 4 goals.

None of the other teams that are left (apart from River Plate of course) have ever won the Copa Sudamericana.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sánchez Show to Victory – River Plate March On

In last night’s second matchup, the defending champions of every competition, River Plate, entered the Copa Sudamericana quarterfinals with a never endangered 3-1 home victory over Chapecoense.  Man of the match was the brilliant Uruguayan midfielder Carlos Sánchez, who scored twice.


Carlos Sánchez celebrates Leonardo Pisculichis (right) freekick beauty (photo: CONMEBOL).

Right from the get go, River suddenly turned on their form again, that got lost since weeks in the Argentinian league, where they lost game after game. It always amazes me when a team can focus completely on one competition and put all their energy into it.

It took the home team 20 minutes, until they made their dominance count for the first time. A beautiful goal from Carlos Sánchez, who slotted home a low shot into the far corner from the edge of the area, assisted just as nicely by fullback Milton Casco, that showed tremendous overview while storming down the left flank.

River did not sit back and was determined to not let the guests come into this game and it worked well until the 37th minute. Then the Brazilians scored in a pretty simple way. Two times, the ball was deflected further forward, until it reached Maranhao. Chapecoenses left winger did not ask twice and shot the ball under Barovero and into the back of the net. River’s defender Jonatan Maidana was a little slow to react on that scene and let the opposing player walk right in.

It went to halftime tied 1-1 and the Argentinians knew that something had to happen offensively to not travel to Brazil with a disadvantage. They delivered yet again with a heavily dominated second half.

Coach Marcelo Gallardo made a positive offensive-minded substitution by bringing on Tabare Viudez for midfielder Lucho Gonzalez. Two minutes after, River took the lead back. No, it was not Viudez, but instead Leonardo Pisculichi stepped up with a direct freekick hammered into the top left corner: 2-1!

4 minutes from the end, they collected the highly earned third goal. After a tireless battle for the ball inside the area, Driussi crossed it low into the middle, where Carlos Sánchez only had to tap it in for his second goal of the night.

El Monumental was electric all night, as River Plate appear to be on the way to yet another international semifinal appearance, if they can hold on to their two goal lead when visiting Chapecoense in exactly a week.

Here are the highlights for you:

Controversial Goal – Paranaense beat Luqueño

It’s the Copa Sudamericana quarterfinals week and Brazilian club Atlético Paranaense hosted Paraguay’s last team in the competition, Sportivo Luqueño.

The guests had yet to lose a game in this year’s competition, that also marked their first ever participation. 5 wins against Aurora, La Guaira and Deportes Tolima, along with a draw against La Guaira in the second round, show the strong international form of the Paraguayans.

For Paranaense on the other hand, it’s the first non-Brazilian opponent after advancing past Joinville and Brasília.  At this stage of the competition, easy games should be out of the question and I expected a low scoring affair, which is exactly what we got at the end.


Goalscorer Marcos Guilherme celebrates the matches’ lone goal (photo: CONMEBOL).

A 1-0 home win was the final result, the way it came together was quite controversial, as a foul before the deciding goal was not given by the referee. Walter’s foul was used by Marcos Guilherme, who fired an accurate shot into the bottom right corner, leaving opposing goalkeeper Jorge Chena no chance to make a save. Obviously, the ref should have taken the goal back, apparently did not see the foul though. I will link you the scene in video form below.

In fairness, the win was everything but undeserved. Atlético Paranaense was the dominant team throughout the game and had the better opportunities in the relatively boring first, as well as the second half. A shot total of 9-4 underlines that fact. Sportivo Luqueño on the other side have to come back with a strong home game to erase the deficit from this first leg.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

One More Year – Zé Roberto Extends Contract

If age is really just a number, the expert for this thesis is a Brazilian athlete. Zé Roberto, at the age of 41, has extended his contract for another year with his club Palmeiras in São Paulo. This deal keeps him playing in his home country until at least December 2016.


(Photo: Reginaldo Castro/ LANCE!Press)

The former Brazilian international (84 games/6 goals) started his professional career in 1994, when he joined the first team from Portuguesa. From there on, it only went further upwards, teams like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Bayer Leverkusen look good on any resume. The largest part of his playing career was spent in Germany, where he easily became one of the most popular and likeable Bundesliga players.

One of his biggest strengths, his versatility, is shown again in the recent Série A season with Palmeiras. From leftback to left wing, central midfield or offensive midfield, Zé plays wherever the coach needs him most. Additionally, he leads the young players by example as Palmeiras’ captain and is able to show them what being a professional footballer and taking care of your body means.

In the club’s website interview with the player, Zé Roberto shows himself very content with the way things have worked out lately: "I'm very happy about the planning that is being done and, of course, about the extension of my contract. I feel great joy to know that I'm going to keep playing for Palmeiras one more year and I hope that during this period, we can honor the shirt of the club and reach our goals, which, of course, include winning titles and give even more joy to Palmeiras fans.”

The team is doing just fine, sitting only one point behind 4th place Santos. After a relatively rough up and down start to the season, they are knocking on the door of Copa Libertadores football in 2016. And that is surely not something you want to miss if you are a competitive athlete like Zé Roberto.


Palmeiras season up until today: The team has found itself and fights for 4th place (graphic: transfermarkt).

Friday, October 16, 2015

Your Football Weekend Plan

The weekend’s football is coming up after the international break and you want to know what you need to watch across South America? This overview is for you then.


(photo from Mirror UK)

Argentina could crown a new champion in the early hours of Monday morning (2.30 CET). Boca Juniors are visiting Racing Club and these are the scenarios that make them champions…

…Boca win and San Lorenzo only draw or lose in their away game against Olimpo (Sunday, 9.10pm CET).

…Boca draw and San Lorenzo loses. In addition, Rosario Central would not be allowed to gain more than one point in their match against Argentinos Juniors (Sunday, 9.10pm CET as well).

All Argentinian league games can be seen live on Fútbol Para Todos as usual.

The Strongest and Jorge Wilstermann duel over in Bolivia. It’s the match between 1st and 3rd. It should be a good one, as those two are the only teams that have not lost a single game yet (Sunday, 11.15pm CET).

Over to Brazil, where Flamengo await Internacional in a match between 8th and 9th. While you might now say “so what” as a neutral, this game is extremely important as fourth place is only 2 points away. The winner will be on an upwards trend (Sunday, 10pm CET).

Colo Colo attempt to forget about the first loss they experienced two weeks ago. And the chances aren’t the worst: They host San Marcos, who actually won their last three league games, but the record champions are always another category. So if you like Chile’s league, set a reminder for Sunday evening (10.30pm CET).

Fénix host Nacional (Saturday, 11pm CET) and Rentistas visit Peñarol in the Centenario (Sunday, 11pm CET). The Uruguayan title fight is in full flight and you can watch both of the favorites at convenient times. While both are expected to win, especially Nacional have not been the greatest away from home so far.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ecuador Shock Argentina – World Cup Qualification

Ecuador have pulled off the unthinkable against Argentina last night by beating the World Cup and Copa América finalists 2-0 on their own ground in the El Monumental.


When the others celebrate: Ecuador have beaten Argentina away from home.

The first chance of the game came only about 40 seconds in when di María had a shot from the right saved by goalkeeper Domínguez. But it was Ecuador who took command ever since, had a penalty shout from Caicedo turned down by the referee – rightly so. When the ball nearly reached Montero in the middle after a 2 on 1 counter in the 10th minute, Argentina could and maybe should have been down already.

Romero continued to make a few more vital clearances throughout the opening stages of the match, keeping his team in it. He retains the number 1 status for his country, despite not playing in Manchester. Finally, Messi-less Argentina found some offense around the 20 minute mark. Romero’s counterpart Domínguez came up with a fantastic save on the wide open Agüero. Pastore could not reach the rebound.

Agüero left the game injured after 24 minutes, replaced by Carlos Tévez.

Ecuador striker Miller Bolaños blasted one over the crossbar just shortly after an error from leftback Emanuel Mas. If a team had chances in this first half, it was predominantly the guests, who exposed Argentina’s back 4 that seemed to lack the final bit of concentration over and over.

Seconds before halftime, the Ecuadorians nearly scored an own goal while defending a corner. The ball flew just wide, being behind after 45 minutes would not have been deserved anyway for the brave visitors.

Argentina’s fans were wondering if their team could find a much needed improvement in the second half. The early answer was no. Defensively, the hosts continued to make unbelievable mistakes through the likes of Mas and Biglia, handing the ball right over to Ecuador. Noboa lobbed one of those attempts just wide. A shot from distance by di María and a weak deflection from Mascherano should remain the only chances of the second half for Gerardo Martino’s squad.


80 minutes in, Ecuador finally collected their well earned reward for a strong performance. A corner was extended to the far post and defender Frickson Erazo made no mistake and headed the ball into the back of the net (see picture above).

While Argentina still wondered what had happened to them, Ecuador struck again with a beautifully executed counter, finished by Felipe Caicedo.

It remained 0-2 until the end. A fantastic away performance by Ecuador, who open the World Cup Qualification campaign with a surprising victory against a weak Argentinian side.

Uruguay’s Successful Climb of Bolivian Mountains

A lot was made of the match location for the battle between Bolivia and Uruguay beforehand, as the stadium “Hernando Siles” lies over 3200 meters above sea level in the countries’ capital La Paz. It did not seem to bother the visitors the slightest. Uruguay came away with a 0-2 away win through goals from defenders Cáceres and Godín, their first ever win in aforementioned stadium.


Not only the environmental settings promised trouble, but missing star strikers Suárez and Cavani, as well as coach Tabárez, through suspension from the last World Cup and Copa América was an issue. In place of them, the likes of Stuani and Abel Hernandez started the game and were putting in a decent shift.

While Uruguay scored early through Cáceres with only his second international goal (10’), his team had to deal with even more adversity when Cristian Rodríguez had to be subbed off after injury. Still, the first ever world champion showed character and team spirit.

It paid off when Godín headed in the afternoon’s second goal in the 69th. The captain let out all his emotions after that strike together with his teammates and once more underlined one of the most significant strengths of this squad. Two minutes later, a high tackle from Jair Torrico resulted in a red card and Bolivia down to 10 men. It was effectively over right there.

The final stats tell us that Bolivia had more shots on goal, but Fernando Muslera was always up to his tasks and had a good game against the hosts.

Coach Tabárez, after having viewed the game from the stands, summed up the night: “We are very proud of these players.”

They made history and had a good opening game on the way to Russia in 2018.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Argentina Dominates – Copa Sudamericana Round Of 16

The Argentinian clubs had an extremely successful outing last night, with River Plate, Independiente and Huracán all advancing into the quarterfinals. They were followed by Sportivo Luqueño, Atlético Paranaense and Santa Fe.


The champion survives: Matías Kranevitter #5 from River Plate (EFE).

Tonight, the last two matches will be played between Defensor Sporting and Lanús (first leg 0-0), as well as Chapecoense and Libertad (first leg 1-1).

Therefore the quarterfinal looks as follows:

River Plate vs Winner of Chapecoense/Libertad

Sportivo Luqueño vs Atlético Paranaense

Winner of Defensor/Lanús vs Huracán

Santa Fe vs Independiente.

Throughout the game, there were chances on both sides between defending Sudamericana champion River Plate and their Ecuadorian opponents from LDU Quito. Mostly it was a pretty aggressive affair though. A total of 10 yellow and one red card were the result after 90 minutes. The only goal came through a shot from Narciso Mina in the 54th minute, which goalkeeper Barovero maybe should have saved. Quito striker Jonatan Alvez later missed a penalty that would have extended this tie. Like this, River moves to the next round with a 2-1 aggregate win over one of the most inform teams of South America (check the latest TOP ranking).

Independiente was the weaker team than Olimpia for most of the 90 minutes, but sneaked out with a 0-0 away draw which let them advance 1-0 on aggregate. What made the Paraguayan’s performance even more remarkable is the fact that they were down to ten men already in the 39th minute after a stomp from Eduardo Aranda that I am honestly not so sure about. Uruguayan Cristian Rodríguez wasted the biggest chance for the guests when he was wide open running towards goalkeeper Diego Barreto. As Olimpia waves goodbye to the competition I’m leaving you with the pre-match reception of the team from last night.

Huracán on the other hand convinced throughout their game against Brazilian Recife, scoring three goals until the 71st. Big striker Ramón Abila found the back of the net twice and Mauro Bogado did as well with a nice shot from distance in the middle of the two. Towards the end of the match, Recife fell apart, receiving two straight red cards in the last 15 minutes for Ferrugem and Wendel.

In the other game last night, the all Brazilian affair between Brasília and Atlético Paranaense, there was no winner in a goalless draw. Still, the visitors were the much better team with all the good chances, keeping the hosts from having any shot on target. Therefore it’s only right, that they advance to the next round 1-0 on aggregate.

Notes from the Copa Sudamericana:

Sportivo Luqueño played a day before and, with a 1-0 win (2-1 agg.) on the night through a Luis Miño goal, advanced over Deportes Tolima.

With Tolima going out, the only Colombian club left is Santa Fe.

That Santa Fe also won Tuesday night, 1-0 over Emelec, and advances through the away goal rule.

Goalscorer Wilson Morelo was the hero despite missing a penalty.