Friday, December 21, 2012

Groups of Copa Libertadores 2013

The draw for Copa Libertadores 2013 happened today and we have the 1st stage and groups set for the 54th edition of the most important tournament in SouthAmerica.

Tigre will be the first Argentinean team in Copa Libertadores 2013. They will play against Dep. Anzoategui (Venezuela), and if they advance they will be in the same group as Sporting Cristal (Peru), Libertad (Paraguay) and Palmeiras (Brazil).

Tough group for Boca: Nacional (Uruguay), Barcelona (Ecuador) and they'll have a very long trip to play Toluca (Mexico).
Similar group for Velez who will play Peñarol (Uruguay), Emelec (Ecuador), and the winner of Dep. Iquique (Chile) and Leon (Mexico).
Arsenal is in the same group as The Strongest (Bolivia), Atl. Mineiro (Brasil), and the winner of Sao Paulo - Bolivar (Bolivia).
The last Argie team is Newell's who shares group with Dep. Lara (Venezuela), Universidad de Chile and the winner of Olimpia (Paraguay) and Defensor Sporting (Uruguay).

The competition kicks off on January 24 with Tigre playing at Venezuela and Olimpia vs Defensor Sporting.
Due to the Confederations Cup that will be played at Brazil in June, Copa Libertadores will have a break after the Quarterfinals and will resume with the semifinals and finals in July.

1st Stage:

(Winner 1)      Tigre (ARG) vs Dep. Anzoátegui (VEN)
(Winner 2)     Gremio (BRA) vs Liga de Quito (ECU)
(Winner 3)     Deportes Tolima (COL) vs U. César Vallejo (PER)
(Winner 4)     Olimpia (PAR) vs Defensor Sporting (URU)
(Winner 5)     Sao Paulo (BRA) vs Bolívar (BOL)
(Winner 6)     Deportes Iquique (CHI) vs León (MEX)

Group 1   
Barcelona (ECU)   
Nacional (URU)   
Boca Juniors (ARG)   
Toluca (MEX)

Group 2   
Sporting Cristal (PER)   
Libertad (PAR)
Palmeiras (BRA)
Winner 1

Group 3    
Arsenal (ARG)   
The Strongest (BOL)    
Atl. Mineiro (BRA)    
Winner 5

Group 4    
Vélez Sársfield (ARG)   
Peñarol (URU)
Emelec (ECU)
Winner 6

Group 5

Corinthians (BRA)   
San José (BOL)
Millonarios (COL)   
Xolos de Tijuana (MEX)

Group 6
Indep. Santa Fe (COL)   
Cerro Porteño (PAR)
Real Garcilaso (PER)   
Winner 3

Group 7
Deportivo Lara (VEN)   
Universidad (CHI)
Newell's (ARG)   
Winner 4

Group 8
Fluminense (BRA)   
Huachipato (CHI)    
Caracas (VEN)    
Winner 2

Monday, December 17, 2012

Official: Carlos Bianchi will have his 3rd term as Boca's coach

The day that Boca fans dreamed off the last 8 years is finally here: the winningest coach in their history is back as the club president Daniel Angelici confirmed today.

Negotiations were not easy. Bianchi was semi-retired since he coached Atletico de Madrid with little success in the 2005/2006 season and after that worked as a manager for Boca in 2009/2010.

This will be his 3rd term as Boca's coach and he couldn't have been more successful in the previous two: he won 4 championships, 3 Copa Libertadores (2000, 2001, 2003) and two Intercontinental Cups (vs Real Madrid in 2000 and Milan in 2003), and also reached a 4th Libertadores final in 2004 where he lost against Colombian side Once Caldas on a penalties shootout.

Previous to his work at Boca he also won 3 league championships with Velez, a Copa Libertadores (in 1994) and an Intercontinental Cup (vs Milan).

Will his return include the return of Juan Roman Riquelme back from his semi-retirement ? That will be for sure another hard negotiation but if there's a chance that Boca's idol can play again at the club is with Bianchi on the bench.

It will be a big challenge for sure for Bianchi. Most of the players of those great Boca teams are retired but there is enough material in the current squad to make a competitive team for the upcoming Final 2013 and Copa Libertadores.

With Bianchi's return there's one thing for sure: Final 2013 will be the coach's championship. Ramon Diaz at River, Americo Gallego at Independiente, Palermo at Godoy Cruz, and many others will put the spotlight on the bench at least in the first rounds.

The Argentina Football Previews service will continue as usual (more details about it here: and the first email will go out sometime around late January and will include Tigre's games in the 1st stage of Copa Libertadores (rival to be determined in next week's draw).

If you want to get the best information, tips and more, email me at anytime at for more details about the service, previews samples and price options !!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guns, blood, a suspension...oh yes, and Sao Paulo wins Copa Sudamericana 2012

I thought I had seen everything in Southamerican football in my (almost) 36 years, but I've watched something unreal tonight.

It probably all started when Sao Paulo didn't allow Tigre to have a practice at the Morumbi, the stadium where the game was played, plus the fans gave them a very nice welcome with a rain of stones to the team bus, breaking some windows but unfortunately this is a "common practice" in South America.

The 1st half of the 2nd leg of Copa Sudamericana had passed with no surprises as Sao Paulo had a deserved 2-0 lead and besides a few hard fouls, common in this region in this kind of intense and important games, not much had happened.

And then all hell broke loose...

According to Tigre's players they were welcomed at the locker room by a group of Sao Paulo's private security who threatened them with guns, and started a fight that finished with some players injured and blood on the door and walls (this was later shown on TV).
Other reports say that the Argentinean team tried to fight the Brazilians because they were making fun of them, and when they went back to the locker room they met this big group of guys that hurt them and pointed guns at them.

Tigre decided not to return for the 2nd half and the story finished in the most unbelievable way possible: the Chilean referee Enrique Osses decided to call the game off and automatically award it as a win for Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo fans and players celebrated and the ridiculous CONMEBOL authorities, a group of very old dinosaurs like in FIFA, made the trophy ceremony with a smile on their faces as if nothing had happened.

What will happen next ? Well, probably CONMEBOL will simulate an investigation that will finish with some kind of fine on Tigre for refusing to go out for the 2nd half, and maybe something on Sao Paulo if they can prove that the private security failed.


Next week CONMEBOL will host the draw of Copa Libertadores 2013 and we'll see again all this old, rich and useless people smiling to the cameras as usual like if nothing had happened.

Sad day in Southamerican football, and that it was in a final makes it even worst.
Tigre's first (and probably only) continental final ever will be a black page in football history.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Inicial 2012 - The End

Summer time !

Inicial 2012 is over (well, technically it's not because there are two postponed games that will be played sometime in February) and the football season in Argentina takes a summer break until Final 2013 kicks off on early February 2013. 
One last, and very important match in this 2012 for Tigre who will visit Sao Paulo in the 2nd leg of the Copa Sudamericana finals after the 0-0 tie in the 1st leg at Buenos Aires.
Simply Tigre's most important game ever, a historic moment for a very small club that a little more than a decade ago was struggling in the 3rd division of Argentine football.
Now it's the time where newspapers and TV shows fill their time with all kind of rumors (mostly lies) about what players are going where (all teams can add only 2 players, it could be 3 if AFA decides to change this rule) and that kind of things until teams start their pre-season training camps in the early days of January.
We had a deserved champion in Velez, 5 teams that will play Copa Libertadores 2013 (Arsenal, Velez, Boca, Newell's and Tigre) and many teams in trouble in the relegations table.

Union, Quilmes, Independiente, Atletico Rafaela, San Martin, San Lorenzo and probably Godoy Cruz, Argentinos Juniors and Tigre will need as many points as possible to avoid finishing the season in one of the three bottom places of the Averages table.

The Argentina Football Previews service will continue as usual (more details about it here: and the first email will go out sometime around late January and will include Tigre's games in the 1st stage of Copa Libertadores (rival to be determined in next week's draw).

If you want to get the best information, tips and more, email me at anytime at for more details about the service, previews samples and price options !!!

Round 19 results:

All Boys 0 - Arsenal 1
Unión de Santa Fe 1 - Racing Club 1
Belgrano 1 - Estudiante 0
Boca Juniors 2 - Godoy Cruz 1
Argentinos Juniors 1 - Newell's Old Boys 3
Atlético de Rafaela 0 - Vélez 3
Independiente 2 - Colón 2
San Martín de San Juan 0 - River Plate 2
Lanús 0 - San Lorenzo 0

Final Standings:


Averages table:


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Velez is the champion of Inicial 2012 !!

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Inicial 2012 has a champion, it's Velez and it was absolutely deserved. 
I have to admit that when the season started I expected them to be in a transition semester, rebuilding a squad that had lost some important players and they had a slow start but except for a few missteps (defeats at home vs Colon, Lanus, Boca) they were the only team that was regular during the whole semester. Newell's started great and slowed down in the end, Lanus had a slow start and their late run wasn't enough, Belgrano had a historic semester for them but also wasn't enough.
Velez wins their 9th tournament in the Argentinean professional league (it started in 1931, it was amateur before that), and 8 of them where "short" 19 rounds tournaments in the last 2 decades.
A fair price for one of the few clubs in Argentina that has their finances in order, doesn't waste money in useless players and is always giving a chance to their young ones.
Not much to analyze about the game vs Union, they started nervous but it was obvious that it was only a matter of time until they scored one and it was no one else than Facundo "Chucky" Ferreyra, the young promising striker that 6 months ago was suffering a relegation with Banfield and now is the top scorer of the league with 11 goals in 14 games (tied with Newell's Ignacio Scocco).

Lanus failed again when they were in a must win situation despite playing better than the hosts during most of a game where not much happened. 
They must have learned somehow that Velez had scored and this probably affected them in the 2nd half because it was around that time when Lanus slowed down and River started to play better.
River didn't play well at all and a draw would have been the most fair score for sure, but they got the 3 points and they celebrated coach Ramon Diaz' arrival (he was watching from a box and will debut next week).

HUUUGE win for San Lorenzo, I'm still jumping around of happiness :)
Very early goal thanks to a beautiful free kick for Independiente, but San Lorenzo was able to stay calmed, get an equalizer and finish the 1st half closer to the 2nd goal, which came early in the 2nd half but a surprising and great long shot by Alan Ruiz.
San Lorenzo let Independiente manage the ball but the guests were once again harmless and the only thing they did was throw useless long balls that made things easier for the hosts.
San Lorenzo is now 11 points above Independiente (they have one pending game vs Tigre) and will have a very calmed summer for the first time in a few years because they also got closer in the Averages table to a group of teams (Godoy Cruz, Argentinos Juniors, Tigre) that could be in trouble soon.

I have no idea who will win Final 2013, the new tournament that will start in early February, but I know that the fight to avoid the 3 relegation spots will be once again amazing because we have a big group of teams struggling in the last rounds and that can't keep falling in the Averages table.
While San Lorenzo won 13 of the last 15 points in play in the last 5 rounds, Newell's got 6, Argentinos Jrs 5, Atletico Rafaela and Tigre 4, San Martin 3 and Quilmes, Union, Godoy Cruz and Independiente 2.

The list of 5 teams that will play Copa Libertadores 2013 is also set: Arsenal, Velez, Boca, Newell's and Tigre.
Round 18 results:

Godoy Cruz 0 - Quilmes 0
Colón 3 - Argentinos Juniors 1
Racing 3 - All Boys 1
Vélez 2 -Unión 0
River Plate 1 - Lanús 0
Belgrano 1 - Tigre 0
San Lorenzo 2 - Independiente 1
Arsenal 1 - Boca Juniors 0
Newell's Old Boys 3 - Atlético de Rafaela 0
Estudiantes 2 - San Martín 0

The last round of Inicial 2012 will start next Friday and will have 9 games because Quilmes - Tigre will be postponed due to the guests commitments in the Copa Sudamericana finals.

No big matches or derbies, probably the highlight of the weekend will be Martin Palermo visiting Boca as a coach with his team Godoy Cruz, in a game where his friend 39 years old defender and Boca legend Rolando Schiavi (who would join him as an assistant coach soon) will be playing the last game of his career.

Friday December 7
19.15-- All Boys-Arsenal
21.30-- Unión de Santa Fe-Racing Club

Saturday December 8
17.00-- Belgrano de Córdoba-Estudiante de la Plata
17.00-- Boca Juniors-Godoy Cruz
19.15-- Argentinos Juniors-Newell's Old Boys
19.15-- Atlético de Rafaela-Vélez Sarsfield
21.30-- Independiente-Colón de Santa Fe

Sunday December 9
17.00-- San Martín de San Juan-River Plate
17.00-- Lanús-San Lorenzo

Averages table: