Time to say goodbye

It's been a long and enjoyable ride for me these past years keeping up with the blog. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and El Bergantin Pirata will no longer be maintained. This is a sad decision for me to take but I have come to realize that I am unable to keep up with the regular updates and information that this blogs needs. When I started this page, I set myself two objectives: first, to strenghten my commitment as a fan to my wonderful club and second, to tell the non-Spanish speaking world about the past and present of the Club Atletico Belgrano. Looking back over these two years, I am satisfied that I have been able to achieve both to some extent.

I didn't want to just vanish so, although this final post comes rather late, I am waiving you all goodbye. I have enjoyed reading comments and interacting with football fans from Argentina and also from Belgium, Italy, Portugal and other places where people don't know much about Argentine football beyond Boca and River. I am also grateful to people that constantly encouraged me to keep with the blog. Those that maintain a blog or a webpage will know about the personal effort involved and I hope they understand this decision. Finally, I would also like to thank people that suggested ways of improving the page.

Belgrano is a great club. Its greatness is not only firmly rooted in its 100 years of history but also in the rock-solid devotion of the fans. The fans have carried out through bad patches in our history and will continue to carry us through whatever circumstances are laid upon us. Hopefully, there will come several decades of glory. El Bergantin Pirata firmly believes that the future is bright. Vamos Belgrano Carajo!!!

Belgrano transfer market activity nears end

With the signings of Cuevas, Pachecho, Chmill, Frangipane, Lux, Cardenas and Becerra, the coach Dalcio Giovagnoli has now only one remaining spot to fill. Cuevas, a high-profile signing due to his former past as Talleres player, fills the much-needed centre-forward role. The much-loved Frangipane has come back to the club after spending an year with Deportivo Cali in Colombia. The addition of Pacheco and Cardenas will strenghten the team weakest areas, central midfield and left-back respectively. Chmill didn't play much during the last year at Gimnasia y Esgrima (Jujuy) but he adds depth to the squad. The board decided to make an important offer to Lux, a player whose experience and ascendancy is considered vital. Finally, Leandro Becerra comes from a spell in Atletico Rafaela and will also add depth to the midfield.

These signings and the fact that they have all been signed before the pre-season training started last monday have sent the fans hopes high and there is excitement all around the Belgrano camp. Some of these signings have Primera Division experience, others have impressed in recent years and a few have yet to make an impact. Having said all that, it will be the coach's task to turn these and the remaining players from last season into a solid unit capable of challenging for the title and promotion to Primera.

We've got coach!

Dalcio Giovanoli became the new Belgrano coach after a long day of negotiations ended with an agreement between both parties. Giovagnoli, whose last coaching spell was at Chacarita Juniors, defines himself as a versatile coach and is said to favour a 3-4-1-2 formation. He declared himself delighted about this opportunity and vowed to rebuild the team with the addition of experienced players. He finally acknowledged that promotion was the only acceptable result in Belgrano.

The appointment of Giovagnoli was received with mixed feelings among Belgrano fans. It was not the high-profile coach many were expecting (in fact, so low a profile that we couldn't find his photo) and his coaching career isn't particularly impressing. Besides, many believe that he may lack the strong grip and personality needed to coach at our club. Although there is the positive feeling that always comes with a new coach, many argue that a bad start of the season may put him under a lot of pressure. We remain mildly optimistic about the new coach and hope he is able to work wonders for Belgrano.

Giunta deal is off

It is really hard to believe but things like these seem to only happen at our club. After announcing to the press that he was the new Belgrano coach, Giunta went back on his word (and a pre-contract) and told the Belgrano chiefs that he wouldn't be able to sign. He mentioned familiar problems as the reason. Yet, nobody seems to understand why didn't he thought of those problems when he was agreeing the deal. Needless to say, the directors at Belgrano were furious.

The whole situation was badly handled since neither Giunta nor the Belgrano board should have announced the news prior to the signing of the contract. We echo the disappointment of both the club and the fans who were eager to have Giunta working with our team. Belgrano are now back to where they started and they better sign a coach soon because we need to plan ahead.

Giunta unveiled as new coach

Giunta appointed as new coach

After accepting the resignation of Mario Gomez, Belgrano didn't waste any time in choosing the new man for the job. Surprisingly, the board decided to break their selection policy from recent years and reached a quick a decision that saw Giunta become the new coach. In appointing Giunta, the board has taken a bit of a gamble. The former Boca midfielder has significant experience coaching small clubs in the lower divisions but has never taken on a challenge this big. He knows that there is only one goal here, and that is to promote. A rustic and perennial motivator as a player, Giunta has shown that he is able to infuse his players with the motivation and desire needed to achieve great goals. We hope that he will be able to bring this to our club.

Speaking to the media yesterday, he stressed his commitment to the Belgrano cause and suggested he may yet need some of the players that were being considered for release by the board. He also hinted at the possibility of new signings and confirmed that they would choose a quiet and isolated place for the preseason.

BREAKING NEWS: Belgrano coach resigns

In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, Mario Gomez offered his resignation as coach of the first team this evening. It is not confirmed whether it has been accepted by the chairman. Although Gomez was never a popular figure with the majority of the fans, he managed to keep the team with a promotion chance until the last minute. If the resignation is accepted, Belgrano will have to to start looking for a new head coach as soon as possible.

There were also rumours that Belgrano's upcoming European tour is likely to be canceled due to this situation. It would be a real shame if this were to happen -not least because many European-based Belgrano fans were eagerly expectant about this possibility-, but it would probably be the right step since the new coach will need to bring in new players and offload some of the current players.

Racing Club 1 - Belgrano 0

Belgrano deserved better (Photo source: LaVoz)

Heartbreak. When you know you were so close and it just vanished. Because Belgrano played with heart, passion and discipline and dominated Racing Club during large passages of the game. Belgrano had no less than four clear goal chances and they pushed Racing to their limit but it just wasn't going to happen today. There was an agonizing moment when Bustos tumbled down and fell with the goal at his mercy. It was painfully close and yet, from that moment, you knew Racing would stay. In the second half, the Avellaneda-based team put a brave resistance and held off Belgrano spirited effort. Our boys pushed until the end but to no avail. They deserved a goal that never arrived. Belgrano will play another season in the second division but we believe every Belgrano fan will be proud of the courageous, never-say-die attitude shown by the boys. It was a real shame that Mati Suarez, the greatest talent this club has produced in the last 20 years, could not end his Belgrano career with a flourish. More to follow...

Goals: Moralez (RC)
Attendance: 50000

Promotion - Second Leg

Racing Club - Belgrano

Stadium: Cilindro de Avellaneda
Sunday, 29 June 2008, 15:10
Referee: Sergio Pezzotta
Odds: not available
Previous: Belgrano 1 - Racing Club 1
Key Players: Sava (RC), Gigli (B)
Recent History: Belgrano have only won once at Racing's ground
Prediction: Racing Club 1 - Belgrano 2

Belgrano 1 - Racing 1

Suarez was a constant threat (Photo source: LMCBA)

Belgrano will be happy after snatching an unlikely draw against a superior Racing Club outfit. Belgrano were only able to match Racing Club in the opening 10 minutes where the midfield was overcrowded and tempers were flying. But it was after a crucial moment that everything went wrong for the home team. Suarez, playing one of his best matches, raced into the box only to be brought down by the keeper. It was a penalty and a red card but the referee thought otherwise and booked Suarez for diving. Belgrano were outraged and that would prove costly for them. After that, Racing Club monopolised possession and created several chances. The opening goal arrived courtesy of Sava who kept his cool and beat Olave after a great assist by Bonet. Racing deserved their lead and they could have extended it in the following 20 minutes. Belgrano cleared twice on the line in the same play, Shaffer hit the post with Olave beaten and Sanchez forced the keeper to a great save. Only luck and the visitors' unability to make good on their chances were keeping Belgrano in the game. Gigli took to the pitch at the start of the second half. Belgrano now had Suarez and Gigli upfront and it made a difference. Although they didn't have the ball, they looked more threatening while Racing lost their momentum. Still, Belgrano didn't create much. Only a few isolated chances that were managed by their keeper. And an isolated play was all it took for Belgrano to get even. Garcia chased a ball that the Racing defender smashed against his body, the bounce going to Gigli who slotted the ball past Martinez Gullota. It was an amazing feeling and the stadium came alive. Only 15 minutes remaining and there was only time for two missed Racing chances and a missed header from Gigli. Racing felt like they had done enough to get the three points but Belgrano took one of their few chances and they are very much live in this promotion tie.

Goals: Sava (RC), Gigli (B)
Attendance: 38000

Promotion - First Leg

Belgrano - Racing Club

Stadium: Olimpico de Cordoba
Wednesday, 25 June 2008, 21:10
Referee: Gustavo Bassi
Odds: not available
Previous: Racing Club 3 - Belgrano 3
Key Players: Moralez (RC), Suarez (B)
Recent History: In the last 8, Racing won 3, Belgrano 1 and drew 4 times
Prediction: 1-1

Belgrano - Racing: It's ON!

It's confirmed: Belgrano will play home and away legs against Racing Club for a place in next year's Premier Division. Racing Club had a very poor season and the end result is that they have to validate their spot against a team with a rich history in promotion play-offs, that's us. Belgrano have only lost one out of four ties in the last 15 years.

Racing Club are one of traditional big-five from Buenos Aires and they are going through one of the worst patches in their history. In addition to the threat of relegation, the management is disjointed and fans are calling out for a return to elections and member participation. They are, however, a difficult team to play against. They have good players and their home support has carried the team many times.

Everything is ready then for the first match which will see Belgrano host Racing Club at the Olimpico de Cordoba next Wednesday at 21.10 local time.

Promotion hopes

We're going to promote, f**k yeah

Belgrano players celebrate the victory (Photo source: La Voz)

Okay, let's not get ahead of ourselves!!!. First, we gotta know who we'll play against. It's either Racing, Colon or Olimpo. The rival will be decided next Sunday when the last round of the Clausura is played. The first leg will be played in Cordoba and Belgrano will have to travel for the second leg. It's also worth pointing out that the Premier Division team has the advantage: given equal results in both legs, they will avoid relegation and deny Belgrano promotion.

But we are hopeful. Belgrano have played several promotion matches in the past with great success and we know what it takes to win at this stage. Form and history do not matter. It's to come out there and give our all. We hope the players will be able to do it and we may be celebrating the return to top-flight football by the end of this month.

Defensa y Justicia 1 - Belgrano 2

Belgrano produced a miraculous recovery from 1-0 down in the first half to earn themselves a hugely important 2-1 victory with late goals from Suarez and Gigli. The victory means that Belgrano ended fourth in the tournament and will play two promotion legs to contend for a place in the top flight. More to follow...

Round 38

Defensa y Justicia - Belgrano

Stadium: Norberto "Tito" Tomaghello
Saturday, 14 Jun 2008, 13:30
Referee: Leandro Bottoni
Odds: 2.25 (H), 3.25 (D), 2.8 (A)
Previous: Belgrano 3 - Defensa y Justicia 0
Key Players: Sabadia (DyJ), Suarez (B)
Recent History: Belgrano won 4 and drew 2 out of the last six
Prediction: It's all or nothing. Belgrano to win 2-0

Belgrano and Anderlecht agree friendly date

It's official. According to Belgian media reports, Anderlecht and Belgrano will meet in a friendly match on the 16 July 2008. This will be the first time these two teams have faced each other. The match is part of the arrangements involved in the Suarez transfer deal and is one of three matches to be played by Belgrano in their European tour.

Belgrano will spend 15 days in Europe as part of their pre-season preparations and are likely to be based in Belgium (location still to be confirmed). No one has confirmed yet whether Suarez will play for Belgrano --wouldn't it be sweet if gives us one final stellar performance against Anderlecht?- or not. In other words, whether we have a chance of putting in a decent performance or be in for a really tough time.

Belgrano 1 - Nueva Chicago 1

The players show their frustration (Photo source: LMCBA)

Belgrano proved yet again unable to take their chances to record a much-needed win and had to settle for a draw against the relegation-threatened Nueva Chicago. With this result, Belgrano are now in 6th position and they not only need a win in the last round but also a combination of results if they are to reach either the 3rd or 4th spot. It's a long shot, but this is Belgrano. Nothing is lost yet. More to follow...

Goals: Suarez (B), Boderone (NC)
Sent off: Farias (B)
Attendance: 18000

Round 37

Belgrano - Nueva Chicago

Stadium: Olimpico de Cordoba
Saturday, 07 June 2008, 15:10
Referee: Federico Beligoy
Odds: 1.67 (H), 3.25 (D), 5 (A)
Previous: Nueva Chicago 1 - Belgrano 3
Key Players: Olave (B), Zermatten (NC)
Recent History: Nueva Chicago won 5, drew and lost only 1
Prediction: It's a MUST WIN game. I say 1-0

San Martin (T) 2 - Belgrano 0

San Martin celebrate a goal (Photo source: LMCBA)

It was always going to be a tall order against the leaders at their home ground but Belgrano must have left disappointed knowing that they had everything to win the match and yet they let it slip from their hands. The first twenty minutes saw Belgrano produce the best chances against a solid but ineffectual San Martin. Suarez and Gigli were a nightmare for the San Martin defenders and it was Suarez who was brought down in the area prompting the referee to signal to the spot. Penalty to Belgrano. Gigli stepped up but his weak effort was stopped by the goalkeeper. The match changed after that incident and San Martin felt revitalised starting to circulate the ball in the midfield. Belgrano took another blow when Maidana was shown a second yellow for a clumsy foul and got the marching orders. And to make matters worse, Campodonico, a former Belgrano striker, unleashed a fierce drive that rushed into the net. San Martin went close to scoring another but luckily for Belgrano the half ended only 1-0. Belgrano had to reshuffle for the second half and that they did but they gave up on any attacking intent. They just sat back trying to deny San Martin and hoping to launch the occasional break. That break never looked likely to arrive and it didn't. San Martin were conceded a penalty near the end making it 2-0 but the match had been over for a long while by then.

Goals: Campodonico (SM0, Ibanez (SM)
Sent off: Maidana (B), Berza (B)
Attendance: 29000

Round 36

San Martin (T) - Belgrano

Stadium: Estadio La Ciudadela
Monday, 02 June 2008, 21:00
Referee: Javier Ruiz
Odds: 2.05 (H), 3.3 (D), 4.3 (A)
Previous: Belgrano 2 - San Martin 3
Key Players: Campodonico (SM), Suarez (B)
Recent History: In 17 games, Belgrano won 6, lost 5 and drew 6
Prediction: San Martin 1 - Belgrano 1

Belgrano 0 - Quilmes 2

Dejected Belgrano players (Photo source: LMCBA)

Belgrano wasted a great chance to get a hold of third position after going down to an efficient display by the visiting team. The home team started positively and were trying to take the game to Quilmes but this only lasted for 10 minutes. Giampietri (Q) gradually started to boss the midfield and spread the ball out to the wingers. Belgrano were out of sorts and didn't look threatening except for a few isolated attacks. Quilmes had the better chances -Giampietri hit the post and Olave produced a great save minutes earlier- and were unlucky not to be winning at half time. But if the first half saw a lackadaisical approach by Belgrano, the second half evidenced their defensive problems. Berza, Martinez and Turus were unable to stop the attacks from the wings and it was only a matter of time until Quilmes got the deserved opener. And it came courtesy of the best man in the pitch, the former Belgrano man, Adrian Giampietri. He received the ball outside the box and unleashed a fierce shot that, despite Olave's reaction, went slowly into the net. Quilmes were good for their victory and Belgrano looked dejected. In fact, the Belgrano reaction was short-lived and ineffectual and Quilmes looked more likely to scoring the second than Belgrano equalizing. When the match was dying, Quilmes made a quick break that was superbly finished by Diego Garcia. It was 0-2 and game over. Belgrano had played one of their worst match of the season and the supporters vented their anger with the coach and players. Belgrano are lying dangerously close to losing any promotion chance and this would be one of the biggest failures of recent years.

Goals: Giampietri (Q), Garcia (Q)
Attendance: 17000

Updates back on Friday

I have been unable to post in the last week but I will be back to updating the page this Friday. Let's keep it up and aguante Belgrano!

Round 35

Belgrano - Quilmes

Stadium: Olimpico de Cordoba
Thursday, 22 May 2008, 21:10
Referee: Alejandro Castro
Odds: 1.81 (H), 3.11 (D), 4.22 (A)
Previous: Quilmes 2 - Belgrano 1
Key Players: Suarez (B), Pontiroli (Q)
Recent History: Belgrano won two of the last three.
Prediction: Belgrano 2 - Quilmes 0

Belgrano confirm European tour

Belgrano sources have confirmed that the squad will travel to Europe for a two-week pre-season training. The tune up will take place from the 5 to 20 July and it has been revealed that Belgrano will play three friendlies against top European opposition. Two matches against Porto FC and Anderlecht RSC are thought to be part of the arrangements involved in the respective transfers of Bolatti and Suarez and there will be a third match against an unnamed Dutch team.

This is a significant event in the institutional life of our club as it will be an opportunity for the players and management to rub shoulders with the uber-professionalised structures of European football. Furthermore, it will contribute to develop Belgrano's image abroad. And finally, it would be a unique chance for Belgrano supporters scattered around the world (and there are many, I can tell you!) to gather in Portugal, Belgium or Holland to support this great club.

Ben Hur 1 - Belgrano 2

Belgrano celebrate the winning goal (Photo source: LMCBA)

Belgrano kept their promotion hopes very much alive after securing an unlikely win against Ben Hur in Rafaela. With Ben Hur desperately fighting to avoid relegation and Belgrano needing a win to help them close in on the promotion spots, it promised to be an exciting match. Only that it wasn't. Both sides looked average and were bereft of ideas to get a result. Ben Hur were more positive throughout the game while Belgrano decided to play the waiting game that so well has suited them lately. And the first goal came from a quick Belgrano break that saw Gigli connecting a perfect cross from Suarez. Belgrano didn't have time to celebrate since 4 minutes later, Klusener evened the match with a lobbed header. The goals had arrived but the match was still very poor. Ben Hur threatened the Belgrano goal several times before half time but Belgrano held on firmly. Gomez decided to pull Gigli out and rebuilt a four-men defense aiming at having a grasp of the ball. Ben Hur seemed to have slowed down their pace and were finding it harder to unsettle Belgrano. When the match was undoubtedly heading for a draw, Suarez had another cross into the box that found his way to Lollo who scored with a half-volley. It was 2-1 with 4 minutes left and Belgrano were jubilant. There would be still time for a gross mistake by the referee who should have given Ben Hur a penalty and a disallowed Ben Hur goal for a clear offside position. Belgrano didn't deserve to win, but with the chance of promotion so close to our grasp, who cares?

Goals: Gigli (B), Klusener (BH), Lollo (B)
Sent off: Carrizo (BH)
Attendance: 1000

Round 34

Ben Hur - Belgrano

Stadium: Sportivo Ben HUr
Thursday, 15 May 2008, 20:30
Referee: Miguel Mazzon
Odds: not available
Previous: Belgrano 0 - Ben Hur 2
Key Players: Bustos (B), Klusener (BH)
Recent History: Ben Hur won 2 out of last 3 matches. Belgrano won only once.
Prediction: Ben Hur 1 - Belgrano 1

Belgrano 0 - Independiente (MZA) 1

Belgrano lacked ideas (Photo source: LMCBA)

Belgrano suffered a huge blow to their promotion hopes after a shock loss to Independiente de Mendoza. At this stage, it is evident that Belgrano are not only lacking good play but also confidence. Because Independiente (MZA) didn't do much to deserve to win but they found an early goal after a header by Giarrizo (I) and that was all it took to undo Belgrano. After that goal, Belgrano showed why they have been unable to win home matches. They were nervous, as if they were afraid to try to play football. The few chances they created were either squandered by the strikers or easily disposed of by the Independiente (MZA)'s keeper. Manzanelli and Crossa came close to an equalizer but Belgrano could have played all afternoon and still wouldn't have scored a goal. The frustration of the home fans grew larger and they took it with the coach and some of the players. There was no late-gasp goal to save the draw this time around and Belgrano may yet have to work very hard to cling to the fourth place in the remaining five matches. It was disheartening for the fans who were clearly expecting a win and a revenge for the 7-0 humiliation suffered last year in Mendoza. Belgrano go to relegation-troubled Ben Hur next round.

Goals: Giarrizo (I)
Sent off: Landagarza (I)
Attendance: 17000

Round 33

Belgrano - Indep. Mza.

Stadium: Gigante de Alberdi
Saturday: 10 May 2008, 15:30
Referee: Guillermo Rietti
Odds: 1.67 (H), 3.3 (D), 5 (A)
Previous: Independiente (MZA) 7 - Belgrano 0
Key Players: Gigli (B), Gomez (I)
Recent History: Independiente (MZA) won 2 and drawed once in the last three
Prediction: Belgrano 4 - Independiente 1

Suarez deal officially finished

The judge informed that on Wednesday RSC Anderlecht made a total payment of 1.2m euros which will be later distributed between the different parts involved in the transaction. The net amount to be received by Belgrano is just over 600K and only half of that will go towards clearing the consolidated debt.

It was also revealed that Suarez is expected to join his new teammates on the 24th June having agreed on a 5-year contract with the traditional Belgian club. But Suarez could delay his arrival to RSC Anderlecht if Belgrano have to play promotion matches. He has often said that promotion means a lot to him and would be a fitting finale to his career in Belgrano

Talleres 0 - 0 Belgrano

Belgrano put in a spirited effort (Photo source: La Voz)

Talleres and Belgrano ended up locked in a goalless draw that was ultimately disappointing for both teams. Belgrano had better chances but Talleres also threatened upfront and in the end the draw felt like it was the right result. The opening minutes saw Belgrano dictating play with both Gigli and Bustos causing difficulties for the Talleres defenders. Lollo, helped by Lux, controlled the midfield and the Belgrano back line kept the home team strikers at bay. Brasca (T) saved from Bustos and Gigli and Talleres only threatened with a ball that ricotched to Reyes that forced a prompt response from Olave. Although Talleres slowly started to put a foot in the game, Belgrano were more dangerous and went close to opening the score when Bustos rattled the crossbar from long range as the half come to a close. The second half was more evenly matched. Talleres improved with the introduction of Rosales and Viveros while Belgrano opted to sit back waiting for their chance. Talleres threatened, usually with dangerous crosses and through balls that were cleared by the Belgrano defense. The match seemed to present Belgrano with a golden chance when Brasca (T) was sent off after a childish headbutt on Aldecoa but Talleres held on firmly. It could have gone Belgrano's way but ultimately the goalless draw seemed the more fitting result for a match that offered very little from both sides. They sure put in a gutsy and spirited display but they forgot about the football.

Goals: -
Sent off: Brasca (T)
Attendance: 40000


Belgrano fans organized a banderazo before the derby to show the players their support and wishing them good luck for the match today. A banderazo is a gathering of fans waving flags, wearing club shirts, and playing drums and trumpets as a way of showing support to the team and players. Media sources informed around 5000 (yes, five thousand) fans gathered at the most traditional corner of Cordoba and later marched on to the hotel where the players were resting prior to the derby. The players took it in great mood as they were waving and singing from their rooms. It was an amazing celebration as only our wonderful fans can do it. Here is a clip made by the folks from Soy Celeste:

Wow, just wow! Keep it up guys and we hope the players get the job done today.

The big day

Belgrano face Talleres in the local derby and it will be a special day for both teams. Belgrano, fighting for the title and promotion to Primera, will be targeting a win to foster their chances to leapfrog Godoy Cruz in the table. Talleres, fighting for relegation and promotion to the third division of Argentine football, will be hoping Belgrano do not turn on the style and give them the killing blow. For a Belgrano win will leave Talleres in a desperate position. Is there any greater incentive for winning this derby than the prospect of sending these scumbags straight into hell? I don't think so. It's because of this that our players must be focused on getting the win today. This is a must win match. We already know we are the biggest club in Cordoba. We now have to remind them of that.

Come on Belgrano! Come on Suarez, Bustos, Olave and all you guys out there. Let's teach them a lesson they'll never forget.

We win, no matter what.

Round 32

Talleres - Belgrano

a.k.a. "The Derby"

Stadium: Olimpico de Cordoba
Saturday: 03 May 2008, 16:30
Referee: Sergio Pezotta
Odds: -
Previous: Belgrano 0 - Talleres 1
Key Players: Borghello (T), Suarez (B)
Recent History: Belgrano won 5, Talleres won 3 and 3 were drawn.
Prediction: We win no matter what

Progress Chart - Round 31

Click to enlarge

Belgrano 1 - 1 Aldosivi

Bustos scored in the last minute (Photo source: La Voz)

Belgrano squandered yet another chance to shorten the gap with second-placed Godoy Cruz after a poor 1-1 draw against Aldosivi. In truth, it could have been worse for Belgrano since they were down a goal since the 48 minute and only found the equalizer within extra time. But it was another poor showing from our team and it is a worrying sign going into the final rounds of the tournament. More to follow...

Goals: Cajaravilla (A), Bustos (B)
Attendance: 18000

Round 31

Belgrano - Aldosivi

Stadium: Gigante de Alberdi
Saturday: 26 April 2008, 15:00
Referee: Alejandro Toia
Odds: 1.66 (H), 3.42 (D), 5 (A)
Previous: Aldosivi 2 - Belgrano 0
Key Players: Suarez (B), Martinez (A)
Recent History: Last three matches were won by the home team
Prediction: Belgrano 2 - Aldosivi 0

It's all but done: Suarez is going to Belgium

The Suarez transfer saga will be finally over today with the closing of the bidding window. "There is no chance for Matias to go elsewhere. He is going to Belgium" said his agent Cristian Colazzo when asked yesterday. He also added that the player and RSC Anderlecht have agreed on the contract and that Suarez is expected to join his new club by the 24th of June. Colazzo also noted that no other club held talks with Suarez over a potential contract and played down the interest from other clubs. It was also revealed that Suarez had explicitly asked to stay to help Belgrano secure promotion and join Anderlecht only after promotion legs, should them be needed, are over.

Suarez will join RSC Anderlecht (Photo source: LMCBA)

As the judge turned down the petition to extend the bidding window, the deadline stands at 1 pm today (Argentinian time). According to judicial procedures, the official announcement will be made the day after the close of the bidding period. In light of these recent developments, it is improbable that any party would go back on their words so the deal will surely go ahead. The 1.2m euros transfer will give a financial boost to Belgrano and allow Matias to develop his inmense talent in a top European club. We wish Matias all the best at his new club and will be eternally grateful for his passion and commitment.

Almagro 0 - 1 Belgrano

Suarez had a quiet game (Photo source: OLE)

Belgrano fostered their chances of a direct promotion after recording an unlikely win against Almagro. Despite Belgrano being the dominant force in the opening minutes, they were second best throughout the match. Almagro were strong on the ball and created several chances but were squandered one after another. Belgrano, in the meantime, resorted to counterattacking; their only two chances in the first half came that way. The half closed and the draw sounded about right since both teams had opportunities to open the score. A very determined Almagro side came out for the second half while Belgrano inexplicably gave up their attacking intentions. Matters took a turn for the worse when Turus received his second yellow and left the team down to ten men. Belgrano then decided to sit back and try to weather the storm. The away team frustrated Almagro time after time and were lucky to get a free kick in the dying moments. Suarez delivered a perfect cross that man-of-the-match Lollo headed into the net showing great anticipation. Almagro were left ruing their missed chances and they certainly didn't deserve to lose but Belgrano wanted none of it. They had won an important game and the players were ecstatic. So are we fans.

Goals: Lollo (B).
Sent off: Turus (B)
Attendance: 5000

Belgrano unveil expansion plans

Belgrano have finally unveiled the plans for stadium expansion. The works will start in 30 days and will last for around 9-12 months. Although it is intended to be an all-around makeover, the main structural modification is the modification of one of the side stands. The expansion will increase the capacity by 7600 by adding a new upper layer to the existing terraces. The process will mainly consists of two stages. In the first stage, new state-of-the-art VIP facilities will be built on top of the lower stands. Later, a large upper stand will be appended to the existing taking the capacity of that sector to around 9000 and the overall capacity to 30000.

The design has already been presented to the judge and planning permission has been obtained. Our stadium will finally get a much-needed expansion and revamp. With the new capacity and other safety measures that are also planned, the stadium will be in perfect condition to host First Division matches next year, that is, in case Belgrano win promotion to the top-flight.

Round 30

Almagro - Belgrano

Stadium: Almagro
Monday: 21 April 2008, 21:00
Referee: Eduardo Gutierrez
Odds: not available
Previous: Belgrano 2 - Almagro 0
Key Players: Bustos (B), Lobos (A)
Recent History: Belgrano won 4 and Almagro only 2 from the last six
Prediction: Almagro 1 - Belgrano 1

Belgrano 1 - 1 Platense

Suarez was in great form but it was not enough

FULL TIME. Belgrano wasted a golden chance to getting ever closer to second-placed Godoy Cruz after they ended locked in a 1-1 draw with Platense. After a fairly even first half, Belgrano threw everything they had in the second half but the lack of ideas and precision meant they were left frustrated by their inability to win the game. With only 9 rounds remaining, the chances of Belgrano clinching a direct promotion berth are fading steadily.

94 min. Beraldi (P) clears and the match ends. Full time. Belgrano 1 - Platense 1
92 min. Platense clears the ball but Belgrano get a last chance
90 min. BOOKING. Madrid (P) sees yellow after a foul on Suarez (B)
88 min. Platense are running down the clock and Belgrano see their chances slip away
85 min. Suarez (B) slips when he was clear on goal
82 min. SENDING OFF. Frean (P) gets the marching orders after his second yellow
80 min. Belgrano misses a great chance after a scramble in Platense's area
76 min. Belgrano go into the last quarter with the urge to break the tie
72 min. Farias (B) replaces Esteban (B)
70 min. Suarez (B) turns and shoots but Migliardi (P) saves
65 min. Casado (B) delivers a good free kick straight into the keeper's hands
60 min. Belgrano are exposed on the counter and Platense waste another chance
58 min. Belgrano appeal for a penalty but the referee turns it down
56 min. Crossa (B) replaces the injured Bustos (B)
53 min. Belgrano dominate possession and peg Platense backwards. Bustos misses header above
50 min. Suarez's (B) shoots wide after good individual run
48 min. Lollo (B) volleyes from close range. Misses above
45 min. Second half starts

HALF-TIME. Belgrano 1 - Platense 1. Belgrano started better and scored quickly through Bustos but then gave possession away to Platense who deserved to level the scores. Consistre scored a great individual goal and made sure the first half ended 1-1.

45 min. No extra time added. Referee blows for half time.
39 min. Lollo (B) misses horribly wide
34 min. Belgrano are lost in the pitch and cannot string two passes together
31 min. Consistre (B) smashes a wonderful volley into the net. Belgrano 1 - Platense 1
31 min. GOAL.
26 min. Platense are starting to trouble Belgrano. Turus (B) almost scores an own goal
23 min. Olave (B) saves from Consistre (P)
20 min. BOOKING. Rojas (P) booked for a harsh challenge on Suarez (B)
19 min. Migliardi (P) stops Bustos's (B) long-range shot
13 min. Rojas (P) misses a sitter from close range
11 min. Bustos (B) put Belgrano in front after heading a cross from Suarez (B). Belgrano 1 - Platense 0
7 min. After 7 minutes of Belgrano dominance, Platense have a corner kick
6 min. Martinez (B) header. Missed above
5 min. Suarez (B) is blocked inches from the goal
3 min. Free kick to Belgrano. Bustos (B) misses above

01:12. Kick off

Round 29

Belgrano - Platense

Stadium: Gigante de Alberdi
Thursday: 10 April, 21:00
Referee: Cristian Faraoni
Odds: 1.77 (H), 3.23 (D), 4.24 (A)
Previous: Platense 1 - Belgrano 1
Key Players: Suarez (B), Vega (P)
Recent History: Last two matches ended in draws
Prediction: Belgrano 3 - Platense 1

Tiro Federal 1 - 2 Belgrano

Aldecoa celebrates his goal (Photo source: LMCBA)

Belgrano recorded an important away victory and revitalised their promotion hopes climbing back to third position, nine points adrift of the top spot. Tiro Federal started in positive fashion but Belgrano matched their enthusiasm and soon started to dominate the game. Aldecoa and Garcia were running down the wing and Bustos and Gigli were a constant threat. It was not surprising then that Belgrano opened the scoring with a precise header by Aldecoa who scored his second goal for Belgrano. The goal rattled Tiro Federal and Belgrano had no less than three chances to double their lead: Gigli and Bustos came very close and Farre hit the woodwork. But the failure to capitalise on this dominance brought some distractions that all but invigorated Tiro Federal. When the half was drawing to a close, Chavez fooled the Belgrano defense and scored the coming in from behind. The second half saw a better Tiro Federal while Belgrano went very deep and limited to the occasional break. Tiro were doing all the work but the match was still 1-1. The introduction of Casado meant Belgrano were intent on getting hold of the ball to slow the pace down. But, with five minutes left, Aldecoa dribbled his way past several defenders to assist Casado who whipped the ball into the net. Tiro Federal were left frustrated since they knew they had done enough to at least get a draw but Belgrano didn't mind. They celebrated a great victory and their morale couldn't be better going into the last 10 rounds of the tournament.

Goals: Aldecoa (B), Chavez (T), Casado (B)
Sent-off: Carnero (T), Berza (B)
Attendance: n/a

Suarez transfer: Anderlecht in front

Facsimile sent by Anderlecht (Source photo: LMCBA)

The scan above is a copy of the fax sent by RSC Anderlecht to Cordoba Celeste S.A., the administrators of Belgrano de Cordoba. It is dated on the 12th of February and confirms the offer of 1.2m euros for the transfer of Matias Suarez. It is understood that in the absence of offers from other clubs, the judge will authorize the transfer within the next 20 days. According to standard procedures, the judge issued an edict prompting interested clubs to submit formal offers for the player.

There are rumours that Santos Laguna from Mexico would be lodging a formal offer during next week. The judicial procedure states that in order for the offer to be considered, clubs have to make a cash deposit equal to 10% of the proposed offer.

Round 28

Tiro Federal - Belgrano

Stadium: Tiro Federal
Sunday: 06 April 2008, 15:30
Referee: Leandro Bottoni
Odds: 1.95 (H), 3.1 (D), 3.5 (A)
Previous: Belgrano 1 - Tiro Federal 0
Key Players: Garcia (B), Armani (T)
Recent History: In the last three years, Belgrano lost 2, won 1 and drew 1
Prediction: Tiro Federal 2 - Belgrano 2

Anderlecht bid 1.2m euros for Suarez

The Suarez saga seem to be nearing conclusion after Anderlecht RSC finally lodged a formal 1.2m euros bid for Matias Suarez. The Belgrano management confirmed that they have received the offer and it was passed onto the judge that will now be advised by the members of the trust on the next steps. It is understood that they will suggest a similar procedure as with the transfer of Bolatti. For this reason, in the next few days, the judge will issue an open call for bids. In the event of a matching offer, Anderlecht RSC will be given priority. It is also rumoured that Anderlecht RSC would be willing to increase their offer if other interested bidders come into play. Although there is no confirmation of what the window period will be, it is likely to extend for one or two weeks. This auction procedure is standard and enforceable in the case of clubs that have gone into management.

The good news for Belgrano is that the offer is finally on the table. Also, despite all the earlier speculation, we believe it is a good offer although still short of the 2m euro price tag that was once suggested. All bets are open then.

Belgrano 0 - Ferro C.O. 1

Lollo sets his eyes on the ball (Photo source: La Voz del Interior)

Belgrano were stunned by Ferro on Monday night causing a big blow to their hopes of grabbing one of the spots granting direct promotion to Primera. It was evident from the kickoff that Belgrano were in for a difficult night given their early difficulties to manage possession. Gomez gamble didn't pay off as leaving Casado on the bench meant that there was virtually no playmaker. And this limited the effectiveness of both Suarez and Casado who were only active during the first 20 minutes of the match, aptly assisted by Aldecoa and Arriola. But once the Belgrano wingers were shut, any hopes of winning the match evaporated. Ferro, a limited team with a disciplined approach, started to control the midfield and to create some danger near the Belgrano area. After a rather uneventful first half, the tenacity displayed by the visitors paid off after a corner kick was twice headed in Olave's area. Brown (F) was the scorer and it was probably deserved. Belgrano were worryingly bereft of ideas and pressed on hopelessly. In fact, Ferro was closer to scoring their second than Belgrano to drawing level. Despite Belgrano spraying the rival area with crosses and corner kicks, the victory was never in doubt for the visitors. Although Ferro did enough to deserve a goal, it was Belgrano languid performance that opened the door for Ferro. With the victory, Ferro put an end to a nine match unbeaten Belgrano run.

Goals: Brown (F)
Attendance: 20000

Round 27

Belgrano - Ferro C.O.

Stadium: Gigante de Alberdi
Monday: 31 March 2008, 20:45
Referee: Alejandro Castro
Odds: 1.72 (H), 3.33 (D), 4.35 (A)
Previous: Ferro 0 - Belgrano 0
Key Players: Suarez (B), Salmeron (F)
Recent History: In last 8 matches, Belgrano lost only once, with 3 wins and 4 draws
Prediction: Belgrano 3 - Ferro 1

C.A.I. 1 - 1 Belgrano

Casado chasing the ball (Photo source: LMCBA)

Although the C.A.I. dictated play for most of the match, Belgrano grabbed a late equalizer to keep their promotion hopes intact and climbed to third in the table. The C.A.I. started better controlling posession and Belgrano decided to sit back and launch the occasional break. But although the C.A.I. had the monopoly of the ball, both teams had scoring chances during the first half. Casado and Suarez came close to scoring for Belgrano while Rivadeneira and Jara threatened the Belgrano goal. The first half ended with Belgrano having to withstand heavy pressure. Belgrano introduced Esteban to reshape their defensive line up but soon thereafter Martinez got injured and the coach decided to bring Aldecoa as a right wing back. The C.A.I's efforts paid off 30 minutes into the second half after a bad clearance gave Jara plenty of time to smash the ball into the net. Belgrano took some time to assimilate the blow but forced the C.A.I. deffensively with some aggresive play. It seemed as if Belgrano unbeaten run would come to an end, but some heroic play involving Lollo, Gigli and Novaretti saw the latter calmly scoring from close range. The final whistle came after that play and Belgrano were celebrating an unlikely draw against a solid team in a very difficult ground.

Goals: Jara (C.A.I.), Novaretti (B)
Attendance: 4000

Round 26

C.A.I. - Belgrano

Stadium: Estadio Municipal (C.A.I.)
Sunday: 23 March 2008, 16:00.
Referee: Javier Ruiz
Odds: 2.07 (H), 3.14 (D), 3.24 (A)
Previous: Belgrano 3 - C.A.I. 0
Key Players: Suarez (B), Villegas (C.A.I.)
Recent History: Belgrano won 3, C.A.I. won 2 and they drew 2 times
Prediction: C.A.I. 0 - 0 Belgrano