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, November 27, 2015

River’s title defense fails – Huracán in Copa Sudamericana final!

For the first time in club history, Huracán have reached the final of the Copa Sudamericana. A 2-2 draw was enough to eliminate local rival and defending champions River Plate 3-2 on aggregate.


Patricio Toranzo celebrates his early goal against River. (photo from

Key to their success were long balls that showed the visitor’s defensive vulnerability. On the first goal from Patricio Toranzo after only 3 minutes, a long clearance became a thorn in the eye of River and goalkeeper Barovero. He was impeded by striker Abila, could not reach the ball cleanly and put it right in front of Toranzo’s foot, who then slotted it into the basically empty net.

The second goal after 26 minutes was initiated by a neat through-ball into the run of striker star Ramón Abila. The Argentine lobbed it over Barovero, who was late to get to the ball. Another empty net, another goal. 2-0 for Huracán was also the halftime score.

One of the main reasons that had River nearly come back and turn the game around was one man: Rodrigo Mora. The striker fired home a fantastic attempt into the top right corner from the edge of the penalty area. No chance whatsoever for Marcos Díaz. After 69 minutes, the guests suddenly had hope again, fueled by their past successes and knowledge that they could turn any game around if needed.

The defending champions now threw everything forward and were rewarded for a second time in the 82nd minute, when Mora was wide open and finished composedly again.

At the end of the day, it was not meant to be. Mora’s striking partner Alario had a few other chances that he could have buried, but did not. While River was more precise in the passing game and had a little more of the ball, the shots ended up being contested pretty evenly. Especially after the first leg, you cannot say it was an undeserved way to advance for Huracán.

The club from Buenos Aires will face Colombia’s Santa Fe in the two-legged final.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Final! Santa Fe advances with two draws

The first team in the 2015 Copa Sudamericana final is known since the past night. Santa Fe’s 0-0 home draw was enough to get by Sportivo Luqueño with an aggregate score of 1-1. Away goal to the rescue.


Midfield battle between Santa Fe and Sportivo Luqueño. (EFE)

Sadly, the game could never really live up to expectations which were also fueled by the fantastic welcoming of the Colombian crowd. At the end of the night there were only 10 shots fired towards the goal, by both teams mind you.

Santa Fe remained the clearly superior team in the process and had most of the quality chances, especially through their striker and the competition’s top scorer Wilson Morelo. The Paraguayans did not manage a single shot on target, yet should have scored a tap-in. After a low cross from the right from Guido di Vianni, Marcelo Báez was wide open at the far post and managed to deflect the ball onto his own other leg and wide from there.

When Santa Fe had the ball in the net during the second half through a freekick from Omar Pérez, the goal was correctly not given by the referee, as a whole collection of home players were offside and deflected the ball past goalkeeper Arnaldo Giménez.

Through both games, there is not much doubt that Santa Fe is the deserved winner. They now await their final opponent from the matchup between Huracán and defending champions River Plate (1-0 after the first leg). That game is taking place tonight at 12:45am CET.

Here are the match highlights:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Exciting News – Football Roundup South America


Peñarol’s new stadium is coming along nicely. The Uruguayan 5-time Copa Libertadores winner continues to build on a new arena, that was originally supposed to be done by June this year. So far, the building time comprises 21 months. Since the club was trying to build a new own home for over 80 years now, some more months most likely won’t hurt anybody.

The capacity of the stadium lies at 40.005, which is quite small considering there’s nearly twice as much members in the club. Peñarol gave supporters the option to buy lifetime tickets. The premium boxes were already sold out a year ago.

After the season finale in Argentina, we’re not done just yet, but let’s get through the basics first. New champion and cup winner are the Boca Juniors, you surely heard about that by now. San Lorenzo as second, Rosario Central as Copa Argentina finalist and River Plate (defending champions) as well as Huracán (best team in Copa Sudamericana not yet qualified) all made it into next year’s Copa Libertadores.

The sixth and final participant will be determined by the so-called Liguilla pre-Libertadores. The four best and not yet qualified teams from the Argentinian league face off in a little “tournament”. The semifinals Racing Club – Estudiantes and Independiente – Belgrano will be one-legged, while the winners will face each other home and away in the final.

The dates are November 19 and 20 for the semifinals and November 29 as well as December 5 for the final.

A similar tournament is being played for Copa Sudamericana access, with 12 clubs.

The international break, quite obviously, is on everyone’s minds right now. South America’s World Cup qualification continues and with Ecuador – Uruguay, the prime matchup is quickly found. Both teams have been perfect so far, winning each of their first two contests. The visiting two-time World Cup winner gets Edinson Cavani back after his ridiculous suspension dating back to the Copa América match against Gonzalo Jara and Chile. Luis Suárez is still out thanks to his lengthy suspension from the World Cup.

Centerback Gímenez stayed in Madrid with his home club Atlético due to injury as well, ripping open a whole in the successful pairing with his club colleague Godín.

Argentina is under tremendous and unexpected early pressure after failing to score a single goal in their first two qualifiers, leaving them with one point. Now Brazil is visiting Buenos Aires, featuring a huge boost as they have in-form captain Neymar return to the national team after his own Copa América suspension. In his last three games for Barcelona, he scored 5 goals and you have to wonder how Messi-less Argentina wants to stop him and the incredible Douglas Costa, who has been turning heads in Germany ever since his arrival at Bayern Munich.

Argentina’s problems don’t exactly dwindle down, as they also miss Tévez and Agüero. They visit Colombia on Tuesday to play a team that welcomes back James Rodriguez after a lengthy absence.

Here are the matchups of week 3:

Bolivia – Venezuela  (Nov. 12, 9pm CET)

Ecuador – Uruguay  (Nov. 12, 10pm CET)

Chile – Colombia  (Nov. 13, 12:30am CET)

Argentina – Brazil  (Nov. 13, 1am CET)

Peru – Paraguay  (Nov. 14, 3:15am CET)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Points Are Shared in Clásico Uruguayo

What better place in the world to watch a game of football than a packed Centenario? In the stadium of Uruguay’s 1930 World Cup triumph, it was between old foes Nacional and Peñarol to write a new chapter in their respective histories.


Perfect setting for an entertaining Clásico. (Javier Calvelo / adhoc fotos)

Under the eyes of Uruguay’s last Copa América winners team captain Diego Lugano (now Cerro Porteño/ Paraguay), Nacional took control of the game early and had the first few half chances.

Abero’s shot in the first minute went over the crossbar and after Romero’s excellent ball-winning tackle on MacEachen, Alonso just missed his cross on the far post. Only eight minutes in, the game should have been over for Peñarol’s superstar Diego Forlán. He attacked Porras with an outstretched leg in midfield, caught his opponent and was extremely lucky to only see a yellow card from the otherwise good referee Andrés Cunha.

Possession-wise and in tackles, Nacional continued to be the better team and after more shots from distance from Abero, we were already halfway through the first half. Now the real action started though.

Peñarol’s first chance of the game, 28 minutes in, was the best one so far. Forlán played a beautiful through ball to his striking partner Ifrán, but Conde stoned him 1 on 1. It was the best phase for the “visitors” in the first half, as they continued to have chances through a Forlán header and a shot from Nández. The hosts did not want any of that and picked themselves back up going forward. Leftback Espino nearly went through on a counter, but was stopped by Nández who got back quickly.

Not long after and Forlán was through for the second 1 on 1 of the day against Nacional’s goalkeeper Conde, yet again the winner was the home team’s #1. Just as everyone thought, we’d go to halftime tied at zero, Seba Fernández had a better idea and burned Peñarol’s defense with a strong run down the left flank and found Santiago Romero in the middle. And the rest was just beautiful: The midfielder hit his spot and found the back of the net in the right top corner. 1-0 Nacional!

Right after it could have been two, but in added time of the first half, Iván Alonso hit the post with a header from a freekick. Halftime and Nacional were up deservingly, but had to deal with two huge chances against.


Santiago Romero celebrating his 1-0 goal. (Tenfield)

The second half could sadly not live up to the expectations after an exciting first 45. The beginning parts were again controlled by record champions Nacional, who had opportunities through Alonso and Seba Fernández. In the 64th minute, Abero yet again was wide open in the middle and couldn’t direct his shot on goal after Alonso assisted him.

Finally, Peñarol reentered the second half as well offensively. First Espino challenged a low cross nicely to prevent a scoring chance, and just after Conde came up big again, making a nice positional save on Ifrán. The goal was somewhat coming and when it did it didn’t really surprise anyone anymore. Rightback Aguirregaray reached the end of a long Nández freekick in the 79th minute and scored the equalizer. He was lucky that Romero deflected the ball backwards right into his path. 1-1 Peñarol.


All tied up: Goalscorer of the equalizer, Matias Aguirregaray. (Tenfield)

While both teams continued to fight for every centimeter of the pitch, no more particular good chances came around with that approach. The final score lets Peñarol defend the top spot in Uruguay’s Aperture table, 2 points ahead of Nacional.

When looking at the game as a whole, the 1-1 doesn’t really do it justice. Nacional were the better team and showed it, especially in the first half. Still, they were also lucky due to the better chances on their rival’s side. A weird match.

Man of the match: Esteban Conde. Saved his team with three fantastic saves throughout the game.  


Esteban Conde. (Tenfield)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Clásico Uruguayo – Interview with Nicolás Difiori

Special games deserve special build-ups. Ahead of Saturday’s Clásico between Nacional and Peñarol, I had the chance to interview Uruguayan sports journalist Nicolás Difiori. Here is what he had to say about the game itself, special traditions and some of the star players.

Make sure that you go follow him on twitter @nicolasdifiori.

ATENCIÓN: Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí: Entrevista en español.

Germancopa: Hola, Nicolás! It’s the week of the Clásico, it will be Nacional vs Peñarol on Sunday. What makes the Uruguayan Clásico so interesting for people in Uruguay and you personally?

ND: Football is deeply rooted in our culture, in our population. In Uruguay it is said that there are “3 million grassroots managers”, meaning that everyone knows and talks about football. Peñarol and Nacional, besides competing for the Clásico which is full of glory, have won a combined 8 Libertadores, 6 Intercontinental championships and 90 domestic championships. The match creates an anticipation that goes beyond people’s colors, everything is on hold, it’s "paralyzing the country."
It is a rivalry that has been extended throughout the twentieth century and so far this century, in an endless race to be the "greatest".
Personally I live with great anxiety; it’s an event where you understand from your childhood onwards what it means and which is celebrated as a true party. Nowadays, seen from a journalist’s perspective, one just hopes for a non-violent climate, which sometimes just hasn’t happened, and for people to enjoy the occasion irrespective of the result.

Germancopa: How do people spend their time on Clásico day? Are there any special rituals in families?

ND: The atmosphere is one of maximum tension and nervousness; it’s the game that nobody wants to lose. Not only on Clásico day itself, but all throughout the previous week, discussions and forecasts are the order of the day. And of course in the subsequent week where winners and losers are getting involved into new discussions and get on the opposing fans.
As for rituals, there is everything. Many watch the game eating a "asadito" which is typical of our country, or going to the "nightclub in the corner" to watch it there while eating a pizza with beer. Others have early lunch and go to the stadium several hours before to kill the anxiety.
Lastly, Uruguayans are very superstitious. They wear the shirt of THAT special year or championship or player, put on their hats and shirt to watch the game on TV, there are stamps, large flags on the balcony and so on.


Alvaro Recoba scores from a direct freekick in the 94th minute to beat Peñarol. (

Germancopa: What’s your favorite memory of matches between the two in the past?

ND: There are a lot of Clásico memories, good and bad ones. Peñarol’s 5-0 was a resonant and unusual triumph, just like a 4-3 win for Peñarol after trailing 3-0. Or the 2-1 win for Nacional with 2 goals from Luis Romero, a player who had previously shone for Peñarol, Nacional’s 2-1 last year with a memorable freekick from "Chino" Recoba in the 94th minute, to name a few.

Also one Clásico that cannot be described as "favorite", but is indelible: The game ended in a huge battle on the pitch, after which multiple players ended up in prison for several days, which is sad but typical for this rivalry.

Germancopa: Iván Alonso is competing at the top of the goalscoring race yet again this year. What are your thoughts on him? The man is 36 already!

ND: Iván Alonso is a top class player. He is a born goalscorer and key player in the Nacional scheme, many consider him the best player of our time.
Alonso has a respectable track record in international football -Alavés, Murcia, Espanyol, Toluca- which has enabled him to come to Nacional matured and experienced enough to be the leader and heart and soul of his team. All this is topped off by a remarkable physical condition for his age.


Diego Forlán. (

Germancopa: Diego Forlán’s return to Peñarol during the summer received a lot of attention. Only three goals, but quite a few assists already, just the other week an outstanding one against Liverpool. What do you make of him so far, has he met the expectations?

ND: Forlán came home to be a champion and doesn’t need not be presented, because he has won titles and scored goals all over the world.
He became the engine, the soul of Peñarol. The "problem", in my opinion, is that Diego needs to adapt to our league; it is worth remembering that Forlán did not debut in the top division in our country, and needs to learn to play the much more physical and frankly worse game than usual. Once he interprets our game the way he needs to - he is already succeeding - and continues with his "exquisite" way of playing, I have no doubt he will be by far the most dominating player in Uruguay and this will result in success for Peñarol.

Germancopa: It’s a head-to-head race for the Apertura title again this season. This game will obviously mean a lot in that battle, as there are only 3 more games left after this. The recent form speaks for Peñarol but who will win the title?

ND: In the title race the Clásico can be decisive, but analyzing the games that lie ahead for both of them, I think that Peñarol has a bit more manageable opponents than their traditional adversary. Wanderers, Plaza Colonia and Juventud are in the way of the “Manya”, while the “Tricolor” faces Danubio, Rentistas and Liverpool.
Aside from those rivals, I see Peñarol as the more solid ones, with Forlán improving and a team that does not play so well but is winning games based on high efficiency.
Nacional has declined significantly in their game, which in principle was neat and rapid at the beginning of the championship and has become predictable with a lot of defensive problems today.
In any case, I think the champion will be known in the last matchweek.

Germancopa: Okay, last question, what’s your prediction for Sunday?

ND: Since it’s a Clásico, it is almost impossible to predict the match, because it is played noticeably different than the rest: More intensity, "claws" and a lot of hard fought duels. In the current context I’d give a very slight edge to Peñarol because of the aforementioned, they seem a little more solid in their game than National and have a better atmosphere, which is always a key factor in these types of games.

Clásico Uruguayo – Entrevista con Nicolás Difiori

Un juego especial merece una edición especial. Previo al clásico que se celebrará el próximo sábado entre Nacional y Peñarol, tuve la oportunidad de entrevistar al periodista deportivo uruguayo Nicolás Difiori. A continuación encontrarán algunas de sus opiniones sobre: el partido, las tradiciones especiales de los fanáticos, los jugadores destacados y más.

Síganlo en Twitter @nicolasdifiori.

ATTENTION: To read this interview in English, click HERE.

Germancopa: ¿Qué es lo que hace al Clásico Uruguayo tan especial para los uruguayos y para usted en particular?

ND: El fútbol está muy arraigado en nuestra cultura, en nuestra población, en Uruguay se dice a nivel popular que existen "3 millones de técnicos" en el entendido que todos saben y hablan de fútbol. El clásico Nacional-Peñarol, además de ser un partido cargado de gloria -han ganado entre ambos 8 Libertadores, 6 Intercontinentales y poseen 90 campeonatos locales- este encuentro genera expectativa en la gente mas allá de los colores, es decir todos están pendientes del mismo, se "paraliza el país".

Se trata de una rivalidad que se ha extendido ha lo largo del siglo XX y lo que va del XXI, en una carrera interminable por ser el "mas grande".

En lo personal lo vivo con gran ansiedad, es un evento que desde pequeño uno entiende lo que significa y que se vive como una verdadera fiesta, hoy visto desde la labor del periodista, uno espera que se desarrolle en un clima de no violencia -en ocasiones no ha sido así- y que mas allá del resultado la gente lo viva con alegría.

Germancopa: ¿Cuál es el ambiente de las personas el día en que se realiza el clásico? ¿Tienen alguna costumbre las familias uruguayas?

ND: El ambiente es de máxima tensión, de nerviosismo, es el partido que nadie quiere perder. No solo el día del clásico, sino toda la semana previa, donde las discusiones y los pronósticos están a la orden del día. Y la semana posterior donde vencedores y vencidos se enroscan en nuevas discusiones y sobre todo en "gastadas" al rival.

En cuanto a costumbres, hay de todo. Muchos ven el partido comiendo un "asadito", tan típico de nuestro país, o yendo al "boliche de la esquina" a verlo allí mientras se come una pizza con cerveza. Otros almuerzan temprano y se van varias horas antes al estadio para matar la ansiedad.

Por ultimo, las cabalas, el uruguayo es muy "cabulero", la camiseta de "aquel" año o campeonato o jugador, el gorrito gastado, ponerse la camiseta para verlo por TV, las estampillas, la bandera en el balcón y un largo etcétera.


Chino Recoba con un tiro libre en el minuto 94. (

Germancopa: ¿Cuál es su recuerdo favorito de los clásicos anteriores?

ND: Recuerdos de clásicos muchísimos, de los buenos y de los malos. La goleada 5-0 de Peñarol por lo resonante e inusual de aquel triunfo, un 4-3 también de Peñarol en los 90 luego de ir perdiendo 3-0, un 2-1 de Nacional de atrás con 2 goles de Luis Romero jugador que había brillado anteriormente en Peñarol, el 2-1 de Nacional el año pasado con un tiro libre inolvidable de "Chino" Recoba en el minuto 94, por citar solo algunos. También hechos que no puedo calificar de "favoritos" pero si de imborrables, como un clásico que terminó en una descomunal batalla campal, luego de la cual, varios jugadores terminaron encarcelados por varios días, tan triste como propio de esta rivalidad.

Germancopa: Iván Alonso compite entre los máximos goleadores del torneo otra vez este año. ¿Qué opina de él? ¡Parece que su edad no ha sido un factor determinante, ya tiene 36!

ND: Iván Alonso es un jugador clase "A". Es un goleador nato y pieza clave en el esquema de Nacional, muchos lo consideran el mejor jugador de nuestro medio. 

Alonso tiene una respetable trayectoria en el fútbol internacional -Alavés, Murcia, Espanyol, Toluca- que le ha permitido llegar a Nacional maduro y con suficiente experiencia para ser líder futbolístico y anímico del equipo. Todo esto coronado por un estado físico admirable para la edad que tiene.


Diego Forlán. (

Germancopa: El regreso de Diego Forlán recibió mucha atención durante el verano. Solo anotó tres goles y tiene algunas asistencias. Sin embargo recientemente tuvo un desempeño increíble contra Liverpool. ¿Cómo lo categoriza hasta ahora ? ¿Cree usted que ha cumplido las expectativas?

ND: Forlán vino a ser campeón, el no necesita ser presentado, títulos y goles por todo el mundo. 

Vino a ser el motor, el alma de Peñarol. El "problema" a mi entender, es que Diego necesita adaptarse a nuestro medio, vale recordar que Forlán no debutó en primera división en nuestro país, aprender a jugar en un fútbol mucho más físico y francamente peor jugado a lo que acostumbra. Una vez que interprete nuestro juego -ya lo está logrando- y lo interpreten a el en su "exquisita" manera de jugar, no tengo duda que será por lejos el jugador mas desequilibrante del Uruguay y esto redundará en satisfacciones deportivas para Peñarol.

Germancopa: Es una competencia cerrada para ganar el título de Apertura esta temporada. Este juego obviamente significa mucho en esa guerra por el título, pues como sabemos ya solo quedan 3 juegos por batallar. Los hechos hablan en favor de Peñarol pero en su opinión ¿quién ganará el título?

ND: En la carrera por el título el clásico puede ser determinante, pero analizando los partidos que les queda por delante a ambos, creo que a priori, Peñarol tiene rivales un poco mas accesibles que su tradicional adversario. Wanderers, Plaza y Juventud en el camino de el Manya; Danubio, Rentistas y Liverpool serán rivales del tricolor. 

Al margen de quienes sean los rivales, veo mas sólido a Peñarol, con un Forlán que crece y con un equipo que no juega tan bien pero que gana los partidos en base a una gran efectividad y empuje.

Nacional ha decaído sensiblemente en su juego, el cual a principio de campeonato era prolijo y vertiginoso y hoy se ha vuelto predecible, además de padecer severos problemas defensivos.

En todo caso creo que el campeón se sabrá en la ultima fecha.

Germancopa: ¿Cuál es su predicción para el domingo?

ND: Como todo clásico es un partido casi imposible de pronosticar, pues se juega notoriamente diferente al resto, mas intensidad, "garra" y lucha que juego; En ese contexto doy un muy leve favoritismo a Peñarol por lo antes mencionado, hoy me parece un poco mas sólido en el juego que Nacional y con un mejor estado anímico, factor que siempre es clave en este tipo de partidos.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Clásico Looming - Bring on Nacional vs Peñarol

It's not long anymore until the highlight of every Uruguayan football season: Next weekend (Saturday, 9pm CET), the Clásico between Nacional and Peñarol will be played. The form going into the game could not be much more different. Record champion Nacional lost at home to Sud América and followed it up with a draw against Racing at the Centenario.


(photo from

Their archrivals are on a four game winning streak after beating Danubio, Rentistas, Liverpool and Villa Teresa. This recent run of success paired with Nacional dropping points has led to Peñarol leading the league table for the first time this season, which is a nice boost of confidence going into the big game. It is the most amount of wins in a row the team has gotten so far under coach Pablo Bengoechea.

Superstar Diego Forlán only recently said after the 3-1 win over Liverpool that Peñarol still "must continue to improve." They sure did and came back with an even higher win, a 4-1 over Villa Teresa, which saw three strikers score: Palacios, Ifrán and Forlán himself.

Talking of strikers: Nacional got the right punch up front so far this season, even though it only counted for one point in the last two outings. Iván Alonso with 8 and Sebastián Fernández with 6 goals are among the top goalscorers of this Apertura season. 36 year old Alonso has been an absolute goal machine throughout his time in Uruguay anyway. In 69 games, he found the back of the net 51 times. Again on Saturday?

Blue, white and red or yellow and black? Keep close to the blog as I will cover the match in detail throughout the week.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

South America’s Top Clubs – November 2015

New month, new Paraguayan team on top? The best team in the last 15 games was Libertad!

Despite crashing out of the Copa Sudamericana, they take over from rivals Olimpia who led the table last month. Olimpia themselves fall to fourth after a still strong month. The biggest jump comes from Huracán who enter the list in third thanks to their international successes.


(photo: José Bogado- Última Hora)

The rules if you missed them previously:

For this table, we look at the last 15 results from each team in South America’s leagues and Copa Libertadores/Sudamericana. A win in the league gets you 3 points, a draw 1. Internationally those numbers are doubled to 6 and 2.






1 4 Libertad Paraguay 42
2 3 LDU Quito Ecuador 41
3 - Huracán Argentina 39
4 1 Olimpia Paraguay 39
5 7 CS Emelec Ecuador 38
6 18 Sporting Cristal Peru 37
7 2 Independiente Argentina 37
8 11 Club Nacional Uruguay 37
9 14 Corinthians Brazil 36
10 10 Deportivo La Guaira Venezuela 36
11 - Atlético Nacional Colombia 35
12 16 Melgar Peru 35
13 - Sport Boys Warnes Bolivia 35
14 17 Universidad Católica Chile 35
15 19 Boca Juniors Argentina 33
16 8 Colo Colo Chile 33
17 15 Cerro Porteño Paraguay 32
18 - Santa Fe Colombia 31
19 13 Atlético Junior Colombia 31
20 - Peñarol Uruguay 30