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.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Silveira show as Nacional stay top

Week 10 in Uruguay's Primera División held no big surprises. Most of the favourites filled their role nicely and were victorious. Among them: Nacional, Danubio and Peñarol.

Ligüera shows his class again in Nacional's win over River (Photo:
Hugo Silveira was the key figure for Nacional this weekend. In a 3-1 win over River Plate on Sunday evening, the striker assisted on all three goals. The Tricolor was up 2-0 early through goals from Kevin Ramírez (13') and Sebastián Fernández (24'). Inside a packed Gran Parque Central, the home team profited from an early red card for the visitors. Fernando Gorriarán went showering early after a stunningly poor tackle on Viudez after just ten minutes. 

Domination continued in the second half and Martín Ligüera made his presence felt instantly after coming on. While his first magnificent attempt went stopped after he left the whole defense stranded behind him, the second try worked out for him. Following a strong run and precise cross from Silveira, Ligüera was there to head it home for a three-goal lead. 

Despite Mathías Saavedra getting a goal back via penalty three minutes later (74'), the win was never under much threat. A good save from Esteban Conde later, the match was a success. Nacional stay on top of the Apertura table after their eigth win in ten games. 

Danubio following closely

Equally successful is just one team: Danubio. The bottom feeders from last year have recovered tremendously and added another win this weekend. Against Boston River, they managed to showcase their comeback qualities, winning 1-2 after coming from behind. Pablo Ceppelini gave the promoted team a first half lead (29') with a shot from the edge of the area. 

While Danubio had already been the better team throughout the first half, collecting the lionshare of opportunities. They finally made it count after a good hour. Damián Malrechauffe's effort was saved by Boston's goalkeeper, but was it in front of or behind the line? The replay angle was not highly conclusive.
A goal or not? 
Six minutes from the end, Joaquín Ardaiz decided the game with yet another weird goal. The player was already on the ground, but somehow managed to get a leg to the ball near him. The push was enough to take it past goalkeeper and line. Conclusively, you might want to add, this time around.

Peñarol discover goalscoring form

Peñarol have celebrated their second win in a row and third of the season. Yellow and black managed to beat Sud América 4-1 away from home. Things were looking grim early on for Peñarol yet again, when they fell down 1-0 through a Gonzalo Camargo strike after 17 minutes. This time around, Fernando Curutchet's men found a way back at an important time. Right before the break, Junior Arias of all people equalised for the visitors. 

After struggling to find the net for the opening 7 weeks, the striker has now scored three goals in as many games. It was the start of a strong second half that saw Peñarol score another three. Nicolás Albarracin (65'), Diego Rossi (75') and Nicolás Dibble (86') all got on the scoresheet later on. Not only does this win give their team the well-needed points. Additionally, a comeback win allows them to grow their confidence that is at a low seeing their 12-point gap to archrivals Nacional on top.

Elsewhere around the league

Montevideo Wanderers held onto third place in the table despite a 0-0 draw against Plaza Colonia. Liverpool, that could have jumped past them, lost their own game to Fénix, 1-0. Matias Mirabaje scored his second goal of the season for the home team.

Defensor Sporting needed a last minute winner from Facundo Castro to beat Rampla Juniors away. Racing convinced early on, bagging three quick goals away to Cerro. The home team nearly came back through two penalties from Maureen Franco and Pablo Caballero. It remained 2-3 at the end. 

Villa Española stay bottom of the league after a 1-1 draw with Juventud. Pablo Silva equalised for Villa in the second half after Leandro Zapze had given the home team the lead early on. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Man shot in Uruguay leads to match suspension

The Uruguayan league match between Rampla Juniors and Peñarol was suspended at halftime last night. Reason for the stoppage in the Estadio Centenario was the shooting of a man near the bathrooms of one of the stadium exits.

Blood ahead of one the Centenario bathrooms (Photo:
Throughout the first half, people could concentrate on a game that was not a particularly good one for Peñarol once again. Down 1-0 to freshly promoted Rampla Juniors, they had to come up with some ideas to turn things around. As it turned out, football sadly took a backseat to other incidents. 

A man nearby bathroom door 10 of the Amsterdam grandstand took two bullets to arm and leg and was taken to the hospital right away. According to Sport 890, he is in stable condition. Furthermore, another person had to be attended to after being present in the same bathroom after the crime. According to several reports, the confrontation took place due to drug issues.

Questionable meanwhile the security around Estadio Centenario: Instead of conducting body searches, only metal detectors were in place for the match on Sunday night. Rightly, the police decided they could not guarantee safety of the spectators anymore and called off the game immediately.

It is uncertain when (and if) the second 45 minutes between the two sides are going to be played. One thing that is clear is the stadium will need to step up security wise.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cavani goal ends Venezuela's hopes early in the second half

Uruguay have stayed on top of the South American World Cup qualification group. The two-time World Champions beat Venezuela 3-0 at home last night. 

Matchwinner Edinson Cavani (Photo:
The Estadio Centenario crowd did not believe their eyes early on when they saw the visiting Venezuela have the better of the match during the opening stages. Throughout eight matches in the CONMEBOL qualification group, Rafael Dudamel's team just managed to win two points, therefore still waiting for their first victory. On the other end, there was Uruguay, unbeaten at home while not conceding a single goal yet. 

Venezuela was particularly strong over the left side, with 19-year old Udinese winger Adalberto Peñaranda and Mikel Villanueva. More often than not, in left right-back Mathias Corujo in trouble and the visitors with good chances. The best of them saw Peñaranda through on an empty net following Fernando Muslera's strange trip outside of the area. Peñaranda put it wide. After another shot from the agile Salomón Rondón went wide as well, Uruguay started to gain a little more control. 

After losing many easy balls through bad passes, it were Sebastián Coates and Diego Godín in particular that managed to step up at the back and lead their team by example. What it led to pretty quickly was the opening goal for Uruguay. Carlos Sánchez switched sides magnificently and found Luis Suárez on the left wing. The Barcelona striker pulled back a fantastic cross into the centre of the penalty area and found the head of Nicólas Lodeiro who left Dani Hernández no chance (29'). Uruguay had a surprising lead and went to halftime with it. 

The start of the second half could not have gone worse for Venezuela. After the likely motivational speech and encouraging words from coach Dudamel, it took few seconds for the game to be over. Sánchez' high ball led to a battle in the air between the so far quiet Edinson Cavani and Wilker Angel. None of them could win it, but Cavani was first to second ball and banged it home with a great finish to the bottom far side corner. This second goal was Venezuela's breaking point, as they could not recover from it throughout the second half. 

From bad to worse, they even fell down to ten men after Oswaldo Vizcarrondo was sent off for a second yellow card just past the hour mark. The numerical advantage led to even more Uruguayan domination and Óscar Tabárez' men should have added to their goal total through substitute Matías Vecino or Sánchez. 

When they did after 79 minutes, it was the best goal of the night for the home team, beautifully crafted by several players. A long pass with the outside of the foot found the decent Sánchez on the right wing again. He crossed it low into the middle, where Suárez backheeled it on towards Cavani. El Matador did not have to be asked twice for goal number two and the victory. 

Here are the highlights:


Venezuela had the chances to take something from this game early on, but did not take it. When Uruguay started gaining confidence, it was over for the visitors who rightly stay at just two points. They have to improve their efficiency to be able to get anywhere in the future, despite their without a doubt talented young team. 

The Celeste deserved their victory after a great second half and still have not conceded a single goal at the Centenario: 3-0 vs Colombia, 3-0 vs Chile, 1-0 vs Peru, 4-0 vs Paraguay and now the next clean sheet.

Uruguay remain first in the group, now with a massive seven point gap to sixth-place Paraguay. This relieves some pressure before the important visit to Colombia on Tuesday. Venezuela host Brazil later the same night. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Changes to Copa Libertadores format from 2017

South American football confederation CONMEBOL has confirmed a number of changes to the format of its flagship Copa Libertadores. From 2017 onwards, there will be group stage spots reserved for the holders of the two international competitions and four nations receive additional spots.

The Copa Libertadores trophy (Photo:
Six new teams will find their way into the Copa Libertadores from next season. The total number of competitors rises from 38 to 44. This leads mostly to a larger qualification field, considering the group stage retains its 32 teams. The tournament will last from February until November. 

The leagues profiting the most from the changes are Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Chile. Due to the country size, Brazil was awarded two additional spots to their already dominating five. This means that three of them will take part in the qualification process that sees 16 teams fight for four leftover positions. Argentina, Colombia and Chile all receive one additional qualification spot. 

In the future, both the Copa Libertadores and Sudamericana champion will qualify for the competition's group stage automatically. Atlético Nacional are already affected by the changes and do not need to qualify via their usual league route. 

Three of the four countries receiving additional spots will be required to determine who gets to play in the Libertadores next year. Brazil simply gave the spots to the fifth- and sixth-best league team. At the moment, those are Fluminense and Atlético Paranaense. Whether they actually improve the competition dramatically remains up in the air. Brazilians have not done too well internationally recently. The last champion was Atlético Mineiro in 2013.

Another new feature is that Mexican clubs no longer have invitation status. This means that finals can be played in Mexico, whereas this was only possible in the first leg in previous years. In general, there will very likely just be a single leg on neutral ground to determine the winner in upcoming years. It is a change that is critically viewed among fans in South America. While CONMEBOL insist that the second leg home team won in 70% of the cases, it does make sense considering they are usually seeded higher after the group stages. Supporters from poorer countries certainly cannot make a trip to another country to see their team play in a final there. A lot of the traditional atmosphere would be lost.

Update: Fox Sports Argentina have reported during this afternoon that the two-legged final would remain a part of the competition. Great news if indeed true.

So far, 17 of 44 teams have already booked their place in the tournament starting next February. These are the following: 

Atlético Nacional - holders
Lanús - Champions of Argentina
San Lorenzo - 2nd Argentina
Estudiantes - 3rd Argentina
Godoy Cruz - 4th Argentina
Sport Boys - Apertura champions Bolivia
Jorge Wilstermann - Clausura champions Bolivia
The Strongest - Most points Bolivia
Universidad Católica - Clausura champions Chile
Independiente Medellín - Apertura champions Colombia
Chivas Guadalajara - Supercopa MX winner Mexico
Peñarol - Champions of Uruguay
Nacional - Most points Uruguay
Cerro - Second most points Uruguay
Libertad - Apertura champions Paraguay
Zamora - Apertura champions Venezuela
Barcelona - Primera Etapa champions Ecuador