Clausura 2010 is on, with excellent starts for Lanus, Racing and Estudiantes, good results for San Lorenzo and Banfield, but River and Boca showing little to get excited about in their openers. Mauro Boselli is still providing joy to Estudiantes fans, but for how much longer? Three great clashes in Brazil’s regional championships, as Palmeiras met Corinthians in the Paulista league, Internacional and Gremio lit up the city of Porto Alegre, while Flamengo and Fluminense put on a spectacular exhibition at the Maracana, yet again.
In Buenos Aires, River kicked off another season with 35-year old Ortega in the role of play maker, an ambitious task for a man who does not actually run, with two high school kids in front of him, 17 year old Villalva and an 18-year old skinny kid named Funes Mori. These kids are not physically developed, as Ronaldo (Brazilian) was at 17, for instance. Add an impotent midfield and, as a result, River generated next to nothing. Banfield was hardly better, but did just enough to take the three points in what was otherwise an excruciating affair to watch. As stated previously, River needs players. Grown-up, physically fit players who can run and demonstrate technical ability. Otherwise, this team will feed off the club’s past glory for another pointless campaign. In the meantime, this River is unwatchable.
Likewise, Boca looks disjointed. Los Xeneizes gave up to Argentinos an injury time equalizer, but there is little exciting about this Boca line up. Riquelme, involved in both goals, revealed his manic depressive state once again, laboring a stressed look all afternoon, after each goal looking straight into the ground without reaction. Que pasa hombre? The mood at the club is strange. Alfio Basile and Carlos Bianchi left big shoes to fill, but there is something more profound going on. Boca has been slipping for years into a commercial area. When two great personalities step away in tandem, there is cause for concern. Even from a commercial view point, the product is unappealing. As is the case with River, good players were sold and poorly replaced. Where did the money go? Can’t field the same tired line-up year after year and expect different results.
San Lorenzo came back to Buenos Aires from Tucuman with three precious points. El Ciclon fans rejoiced a perfect week-end with Lanus’ stupendous come from behind win against Huracan. Three goals in the last 18 minutes or so, the winner deep in injury time. The game featured the best player you may have never heard of, Huracan midfielder Toranzo. It remains a mystery that Huracan is still holding on to him. Ironically, he is a River player loaned out.
One player who has definitely been discovered and will soon be on the move is Mauro Boselli, Estudiantes’ scoring machine since last year’s Copa Libertadores campaign, who scored two more in his team’s 3-0 win over Arsenal. He is rumored to be heading to England for about $10 million. Boselli is technically still a Boca player, he was loaned out to Estudiantes a couple of years ago due to a lack of playing time, another big miscalculation for Boca. Until his future is sorted out, Boselli and Veron will continue to lead Estudiantes at the top.
Is Racing’s revival for real? Time will tell, but Academia’s 3-0 victory against Rosario Central, a team not without relegation concerns, provided its long-suffering, passionate supporters rare joy, hope and optimism. Something to build on, although the win must be qualified, as Central’s caliber this Clausura is questionable. Nevertheless, confidence breeds confidence. New signings Gabi Hauche and Claudio Bieler combined well on Racing’s third goal to the further delight Academia supporters, who came in force to see their new team.
Avellaneda and Rosario rivals, Independiente and Newell’s respectively, played to a scoreless draw. Velez and Colon battled to a 1-1 tie. Last season’s revelation, Uruguayan Santiago Silva, picked up where he left off, scoring for Velez this time. Colon rescued a point ten minutes from the end. Elsewhere, Godoy Cruz defeated Gimnasia La Plata in a bottom of the table affair, while Tigre continued the misery from 2009 with a 2-0 home loss to Chacarita.
In Brazil, three excellent matches took place in the regional championships.
In Sao Paolo, Palmeiras was unlucky to lose 1-0 to Roberto Carlos’ Corinthians, with a perfectly valid goal nullified. For his part, the former Inter and Real Madrid man was around just long enough to see his team go ahead before being issued a harsh red card. Palmeiras had a player eliminated as well just before the end, completing a pathetic display by the match officials. Corinthians’ other star, Ronaldo, missed the Paulista encounter through injury.
In Porto Allegre, Internacional edged Gremio 1-0 in front of a packed neutral stadium that was evenly divided into red and sky-blue halves. Great colors and atmosphere, only one goal in the Rio Grande du Sul championship. Gremio played well and created a number of chances, but was unable to capitalize on opportunities. Bragging rights went to the red side of Porto Allegre on this night.
Finally, the Latin American match of the week-end took place in Rio de Janeiro. It is never a light affair when eternal rivals Flamengo and Fluminense clash. In front of a capacity crowd at the Maracana, Fluminense dominated territorially and took a commanding 3-1 lead into half-time. Flamengo chipped away early into the second half, the after equalizing, gained all of the momentum and won the match 5-3 despite playing with a man short for the final half hour. An out of shape Adriano scored three of the five Flamengo goals, the last one on a stoppage time breakaway, but the men of the match for Flamengo were Wagner Love and the entire Flamengo midfield that ran tirelessly and turned the match around.