I am away for international duty which means I am supporting the national tennis team in the Davis Cup. That means I am in Moscow for the next few days. I will be coming back to updating the info about Belgrano (and hopefully my next post is going to be about the great victory against Boca Juniors) as soon as I am back.
The clash of the tournament is here. Belgrano de Cordoba, back into the First Division. Boca Juniors, contending for another title. Belgrano, the greatest and long-suffering fans. Boca Juniors, the "Jugador Numero 12". Belgrano, a blend of sacrifice, heart and team spirit. Boca Juniors, a blend of personality, stars and winning attitude. Belgrano, el Gigante. Boca Juniors, la Bombonera. Belgrano, a great future. Boca Juniors, history in the making. That is what is all about. All the tournament comes down to this match. A win will give Boca the title. A defeat or a draw will give Belgrano pride and vital points. Certain to be a full house at the Olimpico de Cordoba, meaning huge turntile receipts and a great atmosphere. These two teams have produced memorable matches in the past and we all hope this won't be the exception. In the photo above, two giants and legends of each club, Diego Maradona and Luis Fabian Artime salute each other.
Will Belgrano let Boca run away with the title? Or will we beat them in a classical David and Goliat fashion? Whatever it is, Boca won't have it easier next weekend. That, my friends, is for sure. Match preview, odds and prediction later during the week.
Belgrano were held to a draw by Lanus at the Olimpico de Cordoba. Belgrano had most of the posession but were again unable to find a way to overcome the defensive tactics implemented by Lanus. Belgrano started brightly keeping and passing the ball and trying to push Lanus towards their goal. Once Lanus settled in most of the action took place in the midfield and soon it all became a dull and unattractive affair. Proof of that was that there were almost no shots at the goals and both goalkeepers had a quiet evening. The wet pitch due to the heavy rainfall didn't help matters either. Lanus were more active during the second half and they had chances to open the scoring during the first minutes. The match became more open and Belgrano found spaces for the break. Still, the feeling was that the match was heading for a goalless draw. Unexpectedly, and when Belgrano were in control of the match, Claudio Graf found himself in a scoring position and the efficient striker put the ball away from German Montoya. Belgrano protested an (evident) uncalled foul to JJ Serrizuela who was defending the play to no avail. Shock in the stadium. But it was then when Belgrano fuelled by its people chanting loudly under the heavy rain decided to try and put some justice in the scoresheet. Belgrano pushed and hustled (yeah, without ideas but with a lot of guts and heart) and the leveller came our way after a corner headed home by Mario Bolatti. It was in fact an own goal but the referee, adding to his list of awful decisions, gave it to the star Belgrano midfielder. There was little else until the close of the match. JJ Serrizuela was sent off and both teams seemed happy with the draw. A draw is a draw and a point it always useful. At last, I got the prediction and the score right! A perfect prediction he he! Photo Source: TyC Sports
Goals: 81' Graf (LAN), 87' Bolatti (BEL)
Man of the Match: Gaston Turus (BEL)
Belgrano had a difficult week trying to recover from the last defeat. First, the manager held long talks with the players. Later in the week, it was the chairman who addressed the squad. Everyone agreed that a lot of positives came out of those talks. Belgrano host Lanus at the Olimpico de Cordoba and the overall feeling is that another defeat may cost the manager his job. The match against Lanus is crucial and Belgrano need a win to end the Apertura 2006 in a safe mid-table position. Lanus have been performing well of lately and they have performed excellently in away matches having lost only one match in the whole tournament.
Belgrano news: The manager has decided to introduce 6 changes! That's more than half a team! Turus replaces Peppino (suspension) while the other 5 changes are due to poor form. Ernesto Maceira (19 years) will make his debut.
Lanus news: Hoyos is a doubt. If he plays, Lanus will repeat the formation.
Head-to-head: Belgrano and Lanus have played 17 times in First Division matches. Belgrano: 5 wins, 5 draws, 7 defeats. Goals: 15 (GF), 17 (GA).
Date and venue: Sunday 26th November. Kick-off: 16.30. Stadium: Olimpico (Cba). Referee: Daniel Gimenez.
Match odds: BEL (17/10) ; DRAW (9/4) ; LAN (29/20)
Match prediction: 1-1
If you are a fan of music, chances are you've become acquainted with the name Elefant. The band is fronted by Diego Garcia who is not only a fan of Belgrano but a lifelong member. Born in Detroit to Argentine parents his family registered him as a Belgrano member soon after his birth. He has been a devoted fan ever since and he was spotted recently in a match in Buenos Aires (first thing in the morning he checks Argentine football results!). Elefant have become a household name in the NYC musical scene and Diego Garcia is reaping the benefits. A few months ago, they performed at Niceto Club in Buenos Aires. This clip features the song The Clown from their last album The Black Magic Show and the drummer is wearing a Belgrano's jersey! (yeah, I know you can't see it but it's true...first-hand info). Check it out...
With only three fixtures to go the Apertura 2006 is drawing to a close. The title race is only down to Boca Juniors and Estudiantes de La Plata, with Boca most likely winning their third League in a row. The battle for relegation (which is decided at the end of the season 2006/07) will certainly involve several teams the most likely being Godoy Cruz, Quilmes, Nueva Chicago, Colon, Argentinos Jrs., Gimnasia de Jujuy and Belgrano. On a positive note, Belgrano has performed better than all these other teams boasting 19 points in 16 matches played. The remainig fixtures are: Lanus (H), Boca Juniors (H) and Banfield (A). Most fans would be happy to go into the break with 23-25 points and that involves winning a couple of these matches. On the other hand, not reaching 20 points would leave us in a difficult situation for the Clausura 2006. Following the last defeat against Colon, chairman Armando Perez went public and gave some hints about the next steps. He said there needed to be some changes and hinted that they may even involve the manager (although he gave a vote of confidence to Mario Griguol). He also suggested that there will be a reduction in the number of players at the end of the Apertura 2006. Perez said there were no news in the stadium expansion plans. When asked about whether a new manager will be taking up de reins, he hinted that was a possibility and in that case Mario Griguol would rejoin Belgrano's youth divisions. Speculation is rife about potential managers and Claudio Borghi, Nelson Acosta, Oscar Malbernat, Leonardo Astrada are but a few names thrown into the mix. Whatever the truth about these rumours, it is clear that some things will need to change for the good if Belgrano are to play their way out of the relegation zone. It is a good sign that the chairman is determined to turn things around. Photo Source: La Voz del Interior
Belgrano lost another important match and life is becoming increasingly difficult for both the manager and the players. Belgrano had a good chance of getting something out of this match given the poor performances of Colon but instead they turned in an awful performance. Colon controlled the ball most of the time and created plenty of scoring opportunities. Two times they hit the crossbar, a couple more times our excellent goallie made outstanding saves and they constantly threatened Belgrano's goal. Even when the first half ended goalless, it looked like Colon should have gotten a goal or two. They got the deserved lead ten minutes into the second-half when Enria scored from close range. Andres Aimar was a big hope but was disappointing and never looked like creating play. Neither did the substitutions introduced after half-time. Colon sealed their victory after Ramirez got on the scoresheet 15 minutes from the end of the match. The defenders, usually solid, looked completely out-of-sorts and the midfielders could almost never get hold of the ball. The forwards were never assisted and were never able to pose a serious threat for the Colon defenders. Another good performance by German Montoya meant Belgrano did not suffer an embarrassing defeat. Franco Peppino was sent off for Belgrano who will need to improve greatly if they are to get to the 25-points target set by the manager. There are only three fixtures left and the powerful Boca Juniors is coming to visit us in two-weeks time. We are still in with chances and I am sure we'll scrap our way to the needed target. Photo Source: TyC Sports
Goals: 55' Claudio Enria (COL), 75' Ruben Ramirez (COL)
Man of the match: Claudio Enria (COL)
Belgrano have a must-win match against Colon de Santa Fe. Belgrano will look to shake off the disappointing defeat in the last fixture against Gimnasia de Jujuy and try to come up with the goods against Colon. It is another vital match for Belgrano's obective to escape relegation. Colon have been performing very poorly this season and they find themselves in the bottom two of the league. Color were tipped to be struggling this season but they have indeed become involved in the relegation battle and are targeted as a direct rival by Belgrano. Both teams were beaten in the last fixture.
Belgrano news: Cervera is out for the remaining of the Apertura with a knee injury. The manager Mario Griguol leaves the formation unchanged and is looking for Cervera's replacement. Andres Aimar (Pablo Aimar's brother) and Cesar Mansanelli are the most likely. The manager has also tried some changes upfront.
Colon news: Rumours were heard during the week about the resignation of the manager. Also, there were reports of several players at odds with Julio Falcioni. Conditions are not the best in Colon's camp but some journalists gathered that the manager plans to implement a decidedly attacking formation against Belgrano.
Head-to-Head: Belgrano and Colon have faced each other a tota of 12 times in First Division games with a clear advantage to Colon (we hope to turn that around). Belgrano: 3 wins, 3 draws, 6 defeats. Goals: 11 (GF), 14 (GA).
Date and venue: Sunday 19th November. Kick-off: 16.30. Stadium: Brigadier Lopez (Colon). Referee: Rafael Furchi.
German Marcelo Montoya has been linked with Italian giants Milan AC by some footie news agencies. If these rumours were to be true and Milan AC are indeed observing our goallie, these would be amazing news both for our Montoya and Belgrano. We have already mentioned the praise Montoya has been receiving of late and this speculation confirms the positive remarks. Milan AC are looking for some signigns to fight off the potential of a relegation threat and they have hinted that a young goalkepper is part of their plans. Have a look at these links where the rumours where first heard. Photo Source: La Voz del Interior
http://actumilan.football.fr/2006/11/15/2-toujours-des-noms (in French)
http://milanelcuore.forumcommunity.net/?t=4564317 (in Italian)
http://www.mercafutbol.com/noticias.asp?nt=22817&ct=372 (in Spanish)
Belgrano were unlucky to go away empty handed against Gimnasia de Jujuy last Sunday at the Olimpico de Cordoba. The match resulted as was expected with Belgrano taking the initiative and Gimnasia de Jujuy defending and waiting for the counter. Belgrano created some good chances in the first half but were denied an opening goal mostly due to poor finishing. Only in the last 10 minutes of the half, did Gimnasia attempt to put some more men in attack but they didn't cause much troubles for the Belgrano back four. The second half was a similar story with Belgrano trying to break the deadlock with more guts and passion than ideas. Another succesion of chances came an go for Belgrano who found an inspired Gimnasia goalkeeper. Belgrano introduced some changes only for nothing really to change and the game seemed heading for a goalless draw. But Gimnasia got more than what they deserved when in an isolated counterattack Dario Gandin scored a nice goal after a perfectly timed move. Belgrano then tried to avoid the defeat by going forward but lacked the cutting-edge you need to win matches at this level. The match was followed by a 25.000-strong crowd. Belrano are now lying perilously close to the relegation zone and the team should do very well in the last four matches in order to go confident into the summer break. Photo Source: Portal Celeste
Goals: 82' Dario Gandin (GEJ)
Man of the match (MOTM): Jose Valdiviezo (GEJ)
Belgrano look to consolidate their form after their recent win against Quilmes. The next fixture is against Gimnasia de Jujuy and the match will take place at the Olimpico de Cordoba stadium. Although both teams are currently avoiding relegation, they will be in the hunt for vital points to steer away from the drop zone. Belgrano are trying to stop a run of 4 home matches without a win and give the fans something to cheer about. Gimnasia will try to continue their positive run but they will certainly take a draw at the Olimpico. Both teams secured important victories in their last fixture. Match Prediction: 2-1 to Belgrano.
Belgrano news: It was a quiet week for the Belgrano camp without major news. The manager has named an unchanged squad for the match against Gimnasia de Jujuy. He was happy with the way the 4-4-1-1 worked out and hopefully he will be proven right again.
Gimnasia de Jujuy news: Mario Gomez, the manager of Gimnasia de Jujuy, has decided not to introduce any changes to the team. Both Medero and Gandin are available and will start in the bench.
Head-to-Head: Belgrano and Gimnasia de Jujuy have faced each other 13 times in First Division matches. Belgrano:5 wins, 3 draws, 5 defeats. Goals: 17 (GF), 15 (GA).
Data and venue: Sunday 12th November. Kick-off: 16.30. Stadium: Olimpico de Cordoba (Belgrano).
Argentine football is a joke. Period. The wonderful game that football once used to be is now marred by a mix of rigged fixtures, paid referees and violence from barras bravas. It no longer matters who wins the League. The latest development in this ongoing scandal took place last night when Gimnasia LP hosted Boca Juniors to complete the match suspended some weeks ago (Boca trailed Gimnasia LP 1-0 after the first half). The remainder was divided in two halves of 22 minutes each and right from the beginning there was the feeling of something strange. An outrageous penalty decision was given to Boca Juniors in the first minute. Boca levelled the match and went ahead just a few minutes later. Journalists were commenting on the evident lack of effort from Gimnasia players who looked as if they didn't care. Had Gimnasia went on to win the match they would have granted their biggest rival Estudiantes LP a wonderful opportunity to challenge for the title. In the end, Boca turned the match around by winning 4-1 (yes, four goals in 45 mins!). Amidst rumours of incentive money bein paid to Gimnasia players in exchange for losing the match, there were news about a serious threat made by Gimnasia barras to the players if they won the match. The players admitted to have been threatened but the match was played anyway. Boca stays top of the league 4 points clear but there is a feeling of uneasiness all around the football world. More developments will follow from this and a suspension of the League is likely. Shameful and disgusting.
Our star goallie, German Montoya, keeps surprising everyone with his performances. German is not only loved by Belgrano fans but is also being hailed as one of the best goalkeepers in the Argentine league. His last performance against Quilmes was top of the class being granted a 10-mark by most pundits and selected in the team of the week. The Quilmes manager, former goalkeeper Esteban Pogany, said: "He was outstanding. It was arguably the best perfomance by a keeper this season". Other Quilmes players also commented on his performance:"He is the reason Belgrano won the match. I hadn't seen a performance like that in a long time" said Quilmes' goallie Damian Grosso. "It was impressive. He's won a lot of points for them" said Julio Moreyra. Other pundits highlight the role of Montoya in helping his team getting valuable points. It has also been suggested that he is being closely followed by the national coach Alfio Basile. The reasons for his success: outstanding reflexes, hard-work and determination. He is a class act and his inclusion in the national squad is just a matter of time. Photo source: La Voz del Interior
How many teams in the world can beat that? Stories like these deserve to be told. It's been more than 6 months now but that day Belgrano reminded the football world why it is special.What a day. It was not playing against Boca or River. It was not even First Division football. It was not Champions League or Copa Libertadores. It was the last game of the season in the underrated Nacional B, the second division of Argentine Football. Yet, around 10.000 fans travelled more than 750 kilometres to support the team in its bid to win the title. The game took place at Ferro CO football ground and both home fans and journalists were absolutely astonished at this incredible turnout. It was crystal clear who had the larger crowd that day -the away team, my beloved Belgrano. We won the game, but were narrowly beaten to the title by Nueva Chicago. Yet, after the obvious disappointment, the fans kept chanting and cheering as few clubs in the world would do. A few weeks later, Belgrano would win the promotion to First Division after defeating Olimpo in both the home and away legs. Here is a short clip where you can enjoy part of the fiesta pirata in the terraces. Oh boy, that's passion...
Belgrano fought their way to a much-needed victory against Quilmes, El Cervecero. The game started very lively and two goals came within the first five minutes. The home side got their noses in front after Bustos Montoya scored from a questionable position. Indeed the linesman had his flag up but the referee confirmed the goal. Belgrano were able to draw level shortly after when Bolatti headed a cross past the Quilmes goal. After the emotions, the initial pace reccedeed and the match became hotly contested in the midfield with both sides creating a few good chances. If Quilmes were keeping the ball it was Belgrano who were looking dangerous in the counter. And it was Belgrano who had the half-time lead after Ezequiel Arriola capitalized on some sloppy defending by Quilmes. And it could have even been worse for Quilmes had Cervera not missed a sitter at the end of the half. The match was open and Quilmes went out all guns blazing in the second half. It was a bit of surprise then when Paolo Frangipane scored the third for Belgrano and that seemed to put the game away. However, it looked like Quilmes could score at any minute and they finally found a glimmer of hope after Diego Torres narrowed the losing margin. With the score 3-2 for Belgrano, Quilmes tried hard to find the leveller without success and this was mainly due to the monumental performance of our keeper, German Montoya. Belgrano celebrated a great victory against a direct rival in the relegation battle and they now look forward to facing Gimnasia de Jujuy at the Olimpico de Cordoba. Photo source: La Voz del Interior
Goals: 1' Bustos Montoya (QUI), 4' Bolatti (BEL), 29' Arriola (BEL), 46' Frangipane (BEL), 58' Torres (QUI)
Man of the match (MOTM): German Montoya (BEL)
After three consecutive defeats, it is time for the team to recover. And the next match is against a direct contender in the relegation battle, Quilmes Atletico Club. It is vital for Belgrano not to lose this match and it would be a great boost for the morale of the team if we could just snatch a win. It is going to be tough, fiery and ugly. But a win is a win. And we need it badly. Quilmes had been playing horrible until late when they have strung a run of good results. Belgrano is currently 11th and Quilmes is bottom of the pack. Match prediction: 0-0.
Belgrano news: The manager is clearly unhappy with the past performances and decided to change tactics and players (yet again). The new tactic will be a cautious 4-4-1-1 in a bid to keep a clean sheet. One tactical substitution sees Walter Bustos replace Matias Gigli while the other changes are in order. Mansanelli is replaced by Jorge Cervera due to poor performances while upfront Andres Soriano is replaced by the more experienced Mariano Campodonico. Finally, JJ Serrizuela is back at right back after injury replacing Gaston Turus.
Quilmes news: Jose Chatruc is suspended and will be replaced by Sebastian Rusculleda.
Head-to-head: Belgrano and Quilmes have played only 6 times in First Division tournaments. Belgrano: 2 wins, 2 draws, 2 defeats. Goals: 5 (GF), 5 (GA).
Date and venue: Sunday 5th November. Kick-off: 16.00. Stadium: Jose L. Meizner (Quilmes).
Belgrano were beaten by an efficient Arsenal de Sarandi team adding to the recent poor run of results. More than 25.000 supporters enjoyed a bright start of the game with Belgrano taking the best part of it. Arsenal took their time to adjust but after this brief dominant spell by Belgrano, they always looked the better team. Two very good chances were cleared by the excelent Belgrano's keeper, German Montoya, who is being increasingly acclaimed for his recent performances. The half ended goalles but it was Arsenal who looked like deserving to be in front. Their reward came shortly after the break when Arsenal found the deserved goal after a good move was finished by a cool volley from Mauro Obolo. Encouraged by their supporters, Belgrano tried to find a way to find the equalizer but even with three forwards on the field their efforts were in vain. Belgrano had the possession of the ball but lacked any ideas to find a way trough. Arsenal were the better team and got a deserved win. Belgrano played probably the worst game of the season but there is still time to get back to winning ways. Next up is an all-relegation battle against Quilmes.
Goals: 47' Mauro Obolo (ARS)
Man of the match (MOTM): Carlos Casteglione (ARS)