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

Belgrano celebrates 103 anniversary

Belgrano celebrate today 103 years of existence as the biggest football club outside Buenos Aires. Ever since its foundation back in 1905, Belgrano have been associated with its people and the loyal support of its large fan base. Cordoba is Belgrano and Belgrano is Cordoba. We join the celebrations, which include several official and fan-driven activities, and wish the club a long and prosperous future. The collage above is taken from a commemorative postcard designed by Cultura-Arte-Belgrano, a group of devouted fans that are doing a fantastic job disseminating Belgrano's history and culture. Happy Birthday Belgrano!

Short cuts...

- Suarez and Bustos are one yellow card short of reaching 10 and 5 respectively. If they get booked next match, they will both have to sit for one match.

- Rumours of a stadium expansion have been fueled by the intriguing comments to the press of chairman Armando Perez. He said that many people will have a big surprise when he announces...what exactly?

- Is the price tag of Suarez going down? Well, that seems to be the case if one is to believe the speculation surrounding the arrival of RSC Anderlecht's negotiators in Argentina. Apparently, 1.2m euros have now become 1.2m dollars. Talk about devaluation.

- With San Martin de Tucuman victory, Belgrano are now 9 points adrift of the first position. While they are still very much promotion contenders, the title hopes seem to be waning fast.

- Mario Gomez is still recovering from illness and may have to wait for one or two more days to get back to training the lads.Rolando Bertolini, the assistant coach, will be in charge during his absence.

Belgrano 1 - 1 Union (SF)

The teams were evenly matched (Photo source: LMCBA)

Belgrano squandered a golden chance to climb up to second in the table after a 1-1 draw with Union de Santa Fe. The home team weren't at their best and despite starting the match in vigorous form, it soon became clear that it was going to be another difficult afternoon. But they went ahead following a pin-point corner kick headed into the net by Luciano Lollo (his first ever goal for Belgrano). But instead of keep pushing for a vital second goal, Belgrano decided to sit back and let Union control posession. It soon proved to be the wrong choice as the link-up between Torres and Zarate started to create gaps in the Belgrano defense. Union were deserving of an equalizer and it arrived after a corner kick that Zarate volleyed past Olave. Union were happy to end the half with a draw and Belgrano were bereft of ideas to create chances. Arriola replaced the ineffectual Aldecoa but nothing really changed as Belgrano lacked a clear gameplan and were only kicking the ball upwards. With Suarez and Casado uninspired, there was little hope for a Belgrano win. Torres' dismissal gave Belgrano numerical advantage, but the home team were unable to take advantage of this. In fact, it was Union who were closer to run away with the win. Overall, the draw was a fair reflection of a hotly contested match between two seasoned teams that will surely be among those fighting for a promotion spot by the end of the season.

Goals: Lollo (B), Zarate (U)
Sent-off: Torres (U)
Attendance: 20000

Aiming for second

Belgrano are presented today with an excellent chance of reclaiming the second spot in the table when they host fellow title-contenders Union de Santa Fe. Providing Godoy Cruz fail to beat Atletico Rafaela on Sunday, a win by any margin will see Belgrano climb above the free-falling Quilmes, who suffered an humiliating 4-0 defeat at home. We hope the Belgrano squad will take this extra motivation to the pitch and put a strong showing against their opposition. We predicted a 4-1 home win and we stick by it. Today is the day we get back to promotion places.

Round 25

Belgrano - Union (SF)

Stadium: Gigante de Alberdi
Saturday: 15 March, 18:00
Referee: Alejandro Sabino
Odds: 2 (H), 3.1 (D), 3.4 (A)
Previous: Union (SF) 1 - Belgrano 0
Key Players: Suarez (B), Zarate (U)
Recent History: In the last 8 years, Union won 2, Belgrano won 6 and they drew 4
Prediction: Belgrano 4 - Union 1

Suarez transfer update

According to local newspapers, one important Argentine club and a a powerful Italian investor would be on the brink of lodging formal offers for Matias Suarez. These rumors come in the midst of the speculation surrounding the transfer of Belgrano's top player. The Belgrano management have also said that they are expecting RSC Anderlecht to present a formal offer to the authorizing judge anytime this week.

Decisive week for Suarez transfer

According to media reports, the chairman of Belgrano suggested that there would be important news in relation with the transfer of Matias Suarez. Although the interest of RSC Anderlecht is well known, the main obstacle to this deal is regarding the transfer fee. Although Cordoba Celeste would be satisfied with a € 1.2m fee, the overseeing judge is said to consider this amount too small. In addition to this, there are rumours suggesting that a well-known football agent would be willing to offer up to € 3.6m fee for Matias Suarez -that's three times the amount offered by RSC Anderlecht-, in order to negotiate him to a top European club. The fact that Suarez has been playing a vital role in Belgrano's fortunes and the praise he is receiving from managers and pundits add to the mounting speculation over his future.

In the meantime, Suarez remain fully committed to Belgrano, and keeps his focus by stating his priorities for the next months: "I want to win Promotion with Belgrano and defeat Talleres in the derby" he said to journalists last Sunday. Wherever he ends up going, it will do a great good both for him and for our club. The transfer fee will go a long way to cancel the outstanding debt and the club may finally get back to a normal situation.

Atletico Rafaela 1 - 1 Belgrano

Olave securing the ball (Photo source: LMCBA)

Atletico Rafaela and Belgrano played an entertaining draw that was just about a fair reflection of the merits of both teams. Atletico Rafaela started in better form gaining the upper hand after just 7 minutes when Bazan Vera headed the ball into the net. With the lead, Rafaela got hold of the ball and were controlling the game. But Belgrano slowly started to get back into the game with link play between Suarez and Casado and they were slightly unfortunate to go into half-time the losing side. Belgrano took to the second half in full attacking fashion and they were boosted by the introduction of Arriola. But it was Casado once again that delivered a perfect cross for Bustos (his 9th goal in seven matches) who beat Pezutti with a beautifully placed header. Belgrano could have gone in front in the next 10 minutes where they controlled the ball and the game, but Pezutti responded well. Mario Gomez introduced two defensive changes -presumably due to exhaustion and injury- and decided to hold on. In effect, Belgrano held on tightly to the draw and were never seriously troubled by Rafaela. It was a good draw in a difficult ground that sees Belgrano edges ever closer to the promotion spots.

Goals: Bazan Vera (AR), Bustos (B)
Attendance: 6000 approx

PS. And it's another perfect prediction for El Bergantin Pirata!!!

Round 24

Atl. Rafaela - Belgrano

Stadium: Nuevo Monumental (Rafaela)
Sunday: 09 March, 20:30
Referee: Jorge Balino
Odds: 2.13 (H), 2.94 (D), 3.33 (A)
Previous: Belgrano 2 - Atletico Rafaela 0
Key Players: Garcia (B), Colzera (A)
Recent History: Belgrano won 4 times, Rafaela 5 and there were 8 draws
Prediction: Atletico Rafaela 1 - Belgrano 1

Belgrano 3 - Godoy Cruz 0

Claudio Bustos receives a deserved standing ovation

Belgrano produced a solid display to defeat Godoy Cruz 3-0 and continued their title push entering the last third of the season. Bustos scored a first-half brace and Aldecoa put the icing on the cake in the second half. At half-time, Belgrano led 2-0 courtesy of two fine goals by Claudio Bustos. While both teams had their share of possession, Belgrano had more ambition than Godoy Cruz and started opening the Godoy Cruz' defense through Suarez and Casado. The goal was going to arrive at any minute and it was Bustos with a brace that gave Belgrano their halftime lead. Godoy Cruz had only two shots at goal late in the half, hitting the post in one of them. [More to follow...]

Goals: Bustos (B), Bustos (B), Aldecoa (B).
Attendance: 20000