Three changes

The coach has decided to introduce three changes for Sunday's match against Godoy Cruz. Olave returns in goal after his one-match ban and Novaretti and Esteban will replace the suspended Turus and Martinez. Marcelo Berza, who started the week with injury worries, is fit to play.

Mario Gomez has put special emphasis on defensive coordination and rightly so. But there are also worries concerning the performance of both wingers (Aldecoa and Arriola) who will need to have a big game against Godoy Cruz if they are to stay on the team. Godoy Cruz are a solid team and we will need everybody's contribution -not only Suarez'- to beat them.

Round 23

Belgrano - Godoy Cruz

Stadium: Gigante de Alberdi
Sunday 2 March, 18:00
Referee: Alejandro Toia
Odds: not available
Previous: Godoy Cruz 1 - Belgrano 0
Key Players: Suarez (B), Gutierrez (GC)
Recent History: Godoy Cruz won 7, Belgrano only 3 and there were 5 draws
Prediction: Belgrano 3 - Godoy Cruz 1


Carlos De Giorgis and Gaston Turus have very different stories. While Turus has been at Belgrano for more than seven years, De Giorgis has only been with el Pirata for a few months. But they share things too. Turus has never been more than a fringe player at Belgrano and De Giorgis has been relegated to the substitutes bench in almost any team he's played for. And from last Saturday, they have another thing common for they were the heroes of the hour in Belgrano's epic draw against Instituto. De Giorgis looked comfortable in goal and managed to save a penalty that would have sealed the match for Instituto. And it was precisely Turus who committed the penalty by intercepting the ball with his hand (in a grand selfless attitude) giving new life to Belgrano for Lima's shot was destined for the net. As Turus walked off the pitch, he received a well-deserved standing ovation from everybody in the stadium.

This season has seen Turus become Belgrano's captain and we believe he is the right guy to skipper our team. His character, never-say-die attitude and determination makes him the ideal captain. De Giorgis, on the other hand, is due to return to the substitutes bench since Olave will be available for the next match. But, after a performance like that, we all can be sure that the kid has what it takes to replace Olave and to become Belgrano's main keeper in the future. Well done to both of them.

Belgrano 2 - 2 Instituto

More than 30000 fans cheered for Belgrano

After a relatively quiet first half in which the scores were level with one goal apiece, no one was prepared for what was going to come in a hugely entertaining and eventful second half. Claudio Bustos had earlier scored from the spot after Suarez was brought down and Morales Neumann had equalized through a well-executed counterattack. The first half closed with Belgrano showing more ambition and desire but without ideas to match that ambition. The second half started in much the same way with Belgrano still going strong at the Instituto goal but it was Instituto who went in front after Morales Neuman was brought down and Maglio duly signed to the spot. Romero took charge of the penalty and Instituto went ahead 2-1. Things went from bad to worse for Belgrano as Martinez was sent-off for a clumsy challenge. Turus was to see the red card next for his ball-stopping heroics that ended in a penalty awarded to Instituto. It was Lima this time and it was the new keeper who came up huge stopping the penalty --I'm sorry I ever doubted you mate. This proved to be decisive as a nine-man Belgrano threw everything they had and found an unbelievable last-minute equalizer; Berza this time the hero. It was heroic stuff. It was Belgrano stuff. Under the conditions, this felt like a huge win. Well done guys!

Goals: Bustos (B), Morales Neumann (I), Romero (I), Berza (B)
Sent-off: Martinez (B), Turus (B)
Attendance: 31000

Round 22

Belgrano - Instituto

Stadium: Olimpico de Cordoba
Saturday 23 February, 17:10
Referee: Carlos Maglio
Odds: 1.9 (H), 3.1 (D), 3.7 (A)
Previous: Instituto 1 - Belgrano 3
Key Players: Bustos (B), Faurlin (I)
Recent History: In official matches, 5 victories apiece and 2 draws
Prediction: Belgrano 3 - Instituto 2

Who is De Giorgis?

He goes by the name of Carlos Alberto, he is 23 years old, long brown hair and he -listen carefully- is going to replace the much-maligned Juan Carlos Olave. He was brought in by Ferraro last season and pretty much nobody noticed his presence. We don't even know his real name. Is it De Giorgis? Or De Giorgi? I've also seen it written Di Giorgis. He says he is ready to defend our goal. Great, that's the attitude kid. Thing is, you see, he has hardly played in the last two years. During 2004-05 he had a very good season at Racing Club (CBA) --those whose hinchada are known as the Ninja Turtles, yeah, they're only four!. In 2006, he went to Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy to practice the art of bench-warming and he decided Jujuy was too hot for that so he moved to the milder breeze of continue developing his bench-warming skills. But he's had enough. The unknown soldier has risen from the depths of nowhere and seems likely to start for Belgrano for the first time against Instituto.

That is Carlos de Giorgis. He spoke and he wants to play. The opportunity has presented to him. Let's pray he is as good as keeping as he is warming the bench.

PS. I ain't this nasty usually. But I couldn't help it...

Chacarita Juniors 1 - 2 Belgrano

Belgrano produced a gritty display to earn a hard fought victory against Chacarita Juniors and climbed to the fifth position in the league. Both teams were reduced to ten men during the first half and Chacarita suffered another blow when Precone also saw the red card early in the second half. In the 6th minute, Milla, who was later sent off, scored for Chacarita Juniors while Claudio Bustos grabbed the equalizer ten minutes later. The second half was all but predictable and both teams tried to gain the upper hand. The match seemed to turn Belgrano's way when Chacarita Juniors were reduced to nine but the home team kept pushing and went close several times. Belgrano seemed to run out of ideas and were happy to push the ball out of their own box. Belgrano got new legs with Mansanelli and Gigli but it was again the outstanding Matias Suarez who proved to be the decisive factor, scoring a phenomenal goal ten minutes from full time. Chacarita kept going at the Belgrano defense but were unable to find an equalizer. Had the equalizer arrived, it would have been fully deserved by Chacarita who showed more ambition during the match. Nevertheless, Belgrano held on to the win and secured three vital points that keep them among the title contenders.

Goals: Milla (C), Bustos (B), Suarez (B)
Sent off: Milla (C), Olave (B), Precone (C)
Attendance: not given

PS. That's two correct predictions with exact scores in a row for El Bergantin Pirata. Damn, I wish I had bet some money!

New keeper in town...

...and he is 37! Belgrano have agreed terms with Cesar Leonardo Monasterio to join Belgrano on a free transfer. The player, a cult hero at San Martin de San Juan where he played for 7 years, fell out with the president of his former club and was made redundant by the coach. Apparently, Gomez asked the directors to look for a third keeper since Belgrano have currently only two goallies among the trainees. Apparently, again, Monasterio is the one who fits the bill.

Monasterio has been around for a while since his debut for Deportivo Moron in 1993 and has played for several clubs from the second division including Platense and Almirante Brown de Arrecifes. He is a decent, reliable keeper that likes keeping a low profile.

Now, if this deal goes through (all should be finalized on Monday) one may wonder whether this is the sensible thing to do in this moment. True, he may cover up for the increasingly volatile Olave but he may also end up aimlessly dragging his ass around the stadium. So the question would be, is he gonna end up a steal or a bust? Only time will tell, but I am not entirely convinced on this signing.

Round 21

Chacarita Juniors - Belgrano

Stadium: Argentinos Juniors
Monday 18 February 2008, 21:10
Referee: Daniel Raffa
Odds: 1.81 (H), 3.22 (D), 4.2 (A)
Previous: Belgrano 1 - Chacarita Juniors 0
Key Players: Milla (C), Suarez (B)
Recent History: Belgrano have not lost in the last 4 away games against Chacarita
Prediction: Belgrano 2 - Chacarita Juniors 1

Belgrano 2 - 0 Almirante Brown

Suarez celebrates his goal

Belgrano produced a fine display to earn the first victory of 2008 against Almirante Brown. The match was played at a capacity-crowd Gigante de Alberdi. If there were concerns in relation to the effectiveness of the new tactical display, they were all but wiped out after the first 20 minutes. At times Belgrano found the dynamism needed for this formation: quick distribution to both Aldecoa and Arriola on the wings, effective link-up with Casado and a lot of mobility from both Suarez and Bustos. All this was made possible by the efficient performance of the holding midfielders. The back line didn't have too many problems all afternoon, and after Suarez scored a screamer from outside the box Belgrano took control of the match. After Demus was sent off for the visitors, Bustos found himself on the end of a fine array of passes and beat Campestrini with a powerful shot. It was 2 - 0 at halftime. The second half was redundant. Belgrano could have doubled or even tripled their lead, although Almirante also had their chances. In the end, it was a deserved result for Belgrano. On the basis of this display, the promotion hopes remain intact.

Goals: Suarez (B), Bustos (B)
Sent off: Demus (AB)
Attendance: 15000

Institutional Montage

This clip is excellent. It was released as part of the promotion for the new season ticket membership programme. Enjoy:

Round 20

Belgrano - Almirante Brown

Stadium: Gigante de Alberdi
Sunday 10 February 2008, 18:00
Referee: Nestor Pittana
Odds: 2.35 (H), 2.9 (D), 2.75 (A)
Previous: Almirante Brown 1 - 1 Belgrano
Key Players: Suarez (B), Basualdo (AB)
Recent history: 9 matches. Belgrano won 3, Almirante won 4 and 2 draws
Prediction: Belgrano 2 - Almirante Brown 0

All set for opener

The atmosphere around the Belgrano camp couldn't be any better. The players are all well, the training is going from strength to strength and the coach has already decided upon the team to face Almirante Brown next Sunday --funny to compare this to the much more volatile and tumultuous camp of our eternal rivals, but hey who gives a **** about' em!

In any case, since Belgrano have ended their activity in the transfer market and are no longer playing any friendlies, the coaching staff have another week to adjust the last details and prepare the team mentally for the long quest ahead. Providing that there are not last-minute decisions and barring any injuries, Belgrano will take to the pitch with the following 3-4-1-2:

Olave; Berza; Martinez and Turus; Aldecoa, Lollo, Garcia and Arriola; Casado; Suarez and Bustos