The Apertura 2006 is finally over (is it really? Fact: there is one suspended match who nobody knows if and when will take place!). Estudiantes de la Plata were a deserved champion (although it must be said that Boca Juniors chickened it out in the end and gifted the title) and Belgrano have kept in line with their pre-season goals. With the defeat against Banfield, Belgrano finished the Apertura 2006 in the 12th position with 23 points from 19 matches. One of the objectives in the pre-season was to achieve around 25 points in each championship (the Apertura 2006 and the Clausura 2007). Belgrano were very close to achieving it and there is a growing feeling of accomplishment among fans, the players and the management alike. Another objective was to be atop of what our manager described as a "mini-League" where most teams fighting relegation are. In this matter, only Gimnasia de Jujuy performed better than Belgrano which means we are still in the driver's seat. We are currently out of the relegation zone (although just one point shy!) but things can change pretty quickly with a string of bad results. We just hope that's not the case. All in all, Belgrano played 19 matches, with 6 victories, 5 draws and 8 defeats. Other highlights include the accolade received by our coach, Mario Griguol, as the best behavior on and off the pitch and the fact that Belgrano finished as one of the top three teams in the fair play department.
Belgrano were beaten by Banfield in a quiet Sunday afternoon in the southern region of Buenos Aires. Belgrano were forced to introduce five changes, including a last-minute substitution of our goallie German Montoya. Just when it seemed that Belgrano were settling into the match, Banfield struck. Lucchetti didn't miss from the penalty spot and El Taladro went ahead. Belgrano were fortunate to draw level five minutes after another penalty kick cleverly executed by JJ Serrizuela. The initial relentless pace was followed by a fierce battle in the midfield with both teams trying to get hold of the ball. The last part of the half was evenly contested and it looked as if the teams were heading to a half-time draw. However, Jeronimo Barrales took advantage from a succession of defensive mistakes and put the 2-1 to Banfield by halftime. Belgrano took the blow and they looked out of sorts in the second half but still went forward trying to get the leveller. It was Banfield, however, who found the goal. In ther first offensive attempt of the second half, Barraza signed off the match with a clinical finish. It was 3-1 and from that point onwards, our players sensed it was not going to be their day. Banfield simply controlled possession until the final whistle and that proved to be enough to secure their victory. Photo source: TyC Sports
Goals: 19' Luccheti (BAN), 24' Serrizuela (BEL), 47' Barrales (BAN), 57' Barraza (BAN)
Man of the match (MOTM): Salvatierra (BAN)
The final game of the season has arrived and finds Belgrano in a relatively comfortable mid-table position. Belgrano will travel to Buenos Aires to square off with Banfield hoping to put the icing on the cake to an already good campaign. It is evident that the win against Boca Juniors has proved an important boost to the team and the players will certainly try to end on a high by reaching the proposed 25-point mark. Banfield have had a lacklustre campaign; they bowed out at the early stages of the Copa Sudamericana and have struggled until lately.
Belgrano news: It's all smiles and good spirit in the Belgrano camp after the huge win against Boca Juniors. Serrizuela returns after suspension but Yllana, Mansanelli and Arriola are all out with different injuries.
Banfield news: Raul Wensel has told the press this is a must-win match for them. He said he was considering several changes to the squad.
Head-to-head: Belgrano and Banfield have played 14 times in First Division matches with a clear advantage to Belgrano. Belgrano: 9 wins, 3 draws, 2 defeats. Goals: 23 (GF), 12 (GA).
Date and venue: Sunday 1oth December. Kick-off: 16.30. Stadium: Florencio Sola. Referee: Saul Laverni.
Match prediction: 2-1 to Banfield.
Tomorrow is the last fixture of this first part of the season and everybody expects Belgrano to end the Apertura 2006 on a high. The pre-season goal was to avoid relegation and the management and coaches recalled that a 25-point harvest in each tournament would be enough to achieve that goal. Belgrano has so far performed better than many of the teams involved in the relegation battle and this is another good achievement. Winning the last match would take Belgrano to 26 points in what would be a quite good performance considering the few signings we had and the difficulty that always entails going from second to first division. Everyone of us believes that Belgrano will have no trouble of staying clear of the relegation zone if the team performs at the heights they did against Boca Juniors.
The chairman of Club Atletico Belgrano has confirmed Mario Griguol as the manager of Belgrano for the rest of the season. Amidst speculation that Griguol's position was undermined by a string of bad results, it seems that the fact that Belgrano is close to obtaining the goal of 25 points grants the reigning manager the vote of confidence from the directors. Another important reason it seems that the manager knows his players well and bringing a new face to the helm may seem too risky a bet. In a meeting yesterday, Armando Perez offered Mario Griguol to continue at the helm of Belgrano and the manager accepted promptly. After the last fixture of the Apertura 2006 taking place next sunday, the manager will start planning the arrangements for the next tournament starting in February 2007. All in all, this looks as a criterious decision by the management despite previous talk of replacing the manager at the end of the Apertura 2006. In other news, our manager Mario Griguol received the award for the most correct and well-behaved manager in the Apertura 2006 given by the Referees Association. Photo Source: La Voz del Interior
I am short of words to describe this video. It's absolutely amazing that the support for a team fighting for relegation (Belgrano) put to shame the support for a team challenging for the title (Boca Juniors) who were given almost half capacity at the stadium. Just take a look at this...
And now take a look at this featuring the so-called "The best hinchada in Argentina: La 12". It is really depressing and boring. Stop all the rubbish: this team was about to win the title and their fans were totally outdone and outchanted by our fans. So Boca, what's like being beaten in the pitch and in the stands? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...
Belgrano showed once more what a great fan base they have. Boca showed once more that their fans only rule in the Bombonera.
Amazing. Unbelievable. Awesome. Against all the odds, Belgrano defeated Boca Juniors and halted Boca's unbeaten run. In addition, the win takes the title race to the wire. Boca had expected to celebrate a new title in Cordoba dismissing Belgrano as an easy obstacle. The scene and all the preparations were in place for a Boca celebration. Fortunately for Belgrano, Boca forgot that matches are won and lost in the pitch.
As predicted, the stadium was packed and the match yielded the highest turntiles receipts so far. Boca's colourful support was more than matched by Belgrano's vibrant and noisy supporters. It was all set for a walk in the park for Boca Juniors. But as kick-off took place, the first impressions were different. Belgrano were playing with guts and incredible passion as if it was a league final. Boca were playing with a lacking and despiseful attitude. Boca had control of the ball but were not able to overcome the fierce resistance imposed by Belgrano. Time and again, Boca repeated in lateralizing and crosses that were cleared by the Belgrano defenders. They were unable to create clear chances in front of Belgrano's goal. Belgrano assumed a passive role from the outset conceding the ball to Boca but trying to take advantage from the gaps opened in the Boca midfield and defensive lines. Palacio, arguably the best forward in the league, was well controlled by Maceira and Palermo had a dreadful evening. Cardozo, Datolo and Marino were also unable to create play and the Belgrano defenders had the best of them. On the other side, Belgrano were starting to create some problems to the Boca back four with Andres Rios and Gigli. The midfield pair, Bolatti and Yllana, had a growing influence into the game and Mansanelli and Arriola were causing troubles on the wings. The first half didn't see many scoring chances and it ended 0-0. The second half was pretty similar but Belgrano decided to go for an unlikely win. Another cross from the left hand side into the box, left Franco Peppino unchallenged and after some clever footwork he put the ball past Bobadilla giving Belgrano the lead. It was pure ectasy. The Pirates, Belgrano supporters, were in heaven and they were enjoying the win and teasing Boca fans. From that moment, Boca took control of the ball and created some opportunities but they were unable to break Belgrano. German Montoya was again an important factor and the unexperienced Belgrano back four played an excellent match. The final whistle brought a sense of relief into the stands and both Belgrano players and supporters stayed for a while celebrating wildly and joyously after the match finished. It was another chapter of the rich history between these two clubs. Another heroic match for Belgrano. Another frustration for Boca. David defeated Goliat...
This is why I love being a supporter of this club. It's because of the mystic, the heroics, the popular roots, the inner strength, the passion and the support. We don't care if we win or lose. We don't care if we play well or suck. We don't care if we win leagues or battle relegation. We just care about supporting our team at every single moment. We ask our players to give their all. We, as supporters, also give our all. Photo Source: La Voz del Interior
Goals: 60' Peppino (BEL)
Man of the match (MOTM): German Montoya (BEL)