August signalled the start of the dreaded Torneo Transición ahead of AFA’s 30-team Primera masterplan but it was all the more significant given the sudden death of long standing President Julio Grondona. With the shakeup at the AFA, a new national team coach and San Lorenzo capturing their maiden Copa Libertadores it has been an eventful month. Golazo looks back and as always awards the Manager, Player and Goal of the Month for August….
Before a ball had been kicked in the new season, Argentine football had given us a number of big talking points and there were none bigger than the death of AFA President, Julio Grondona. The man who had been in charge of the AFA since 1979 had previously said that he would leave in a coffin and so his prophesy was fulfilled.
Unfortunately his parting gift to Argentine football was already in motion and so under the new leadership of Luís Segura, we are now in the midst of the Torneo Transición. No relegations means a fairly care free approach from the clubs as the abominable 30-team Primera looms on the horizon.
In further changes, Alejandro Sabella stepped down as Argentina coach following the World Cup Final defeat and in his place is Gerardo Martino. Yesterday evening in Dusseldorf, Martino’s slightly reshuffled Argentina exacted something of a revenge over their World Cup Final victors, Germany. Messi was missing but Angel Di Maria starred in a impressive 4 -2 victory.
San Lorenzo celebrated winning the Copa Libertadores, shaking off the unwanted tag of being the only ‘Big Five’ club not to have won the continent’s biggest prize. A 1-0 victory in the second leg against Nacional was enough and with the proposed move back to Boedo on, it’s a good time to be a San Lorenzo fan.
Across town, Boca Juniors have not had such a good time. Juan Román Riquelme opted not to stay at La Bombonera and returned to his boyhood club of Argentinos Juniors in the Nacional B. The absence of the legendary number 10 has seen performances and results drop and Carlos Bianchi paid the price. Last week he was axed by Boca president, Daniel Angelici and swiftly replaced by former defender, Rodolfo Arruabarrena.
On top of all this the European transfer window came to a close and August witnessed some significant moves for Argentines. Angel Di María’s British transfer record breaking move to Manchester United was the obvious highlight but his pairing with Marcos Rojo in Louis van Gaal’s new look side is interesting.
Elsewhere there were big money moves for Juan Iturbe, Ezequiel Garay and a host of other big names in Europe plus the latest influx of youngsters from the Primera made their way to the most competitive leagues in the world. For a full rundown visit the excellent Mundo Albiceleste.
So, that is a brief reminder of August in Argentina and now after a month of the Torneo Transición we take a look at the best of the division….
MANAGER OF THE MONTH
Taking over at a side who have just won the championship is never an easy task. Given the loss of Carlos Carbonero and Manuel Lanzini and the long-term injury to Fernando Cavanaghi, perhaps Marcelo Gallardo would have been awarded a little time to implement his own style.
However, the 38-year-old coach has so far proved to be a resounding success. Not only are River sitting pretty at the top of the table but they are unbeaten with four wins from their opening five fixtures with the league’s best attack and the best defence.
If the stats alone are not impressive enough, Gallardo appears to have quickly stamped a more dynamic, attacking style of play on the side. River under Díaz were effective but not particularly pretty, under El Muñeco they are progressing but it remains to be seen if they will enjoy the same success.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH
With River’s current performances needless to say there are a few contenders from El Monumental. 21-year-old Matías Kranevitter‘s assured performances in central midfield seem to be justifying the view that he could be destined for big things, Uruguayan Carlos Sánchez has chipped in with some valuable goals from midfield and Leanardo Pisculichi has carried his influential form from Argentinos Juniors to River.
However, after a close season in which it looked more likely he wouldn’t be returning to River, Teófilo Gutiérrez has started this season in sensational form. A goal in each of the five matches, six goals in total and at times looking like the player that perhaps he believes he is and too often in the past has failed to be.
Keeping hold of Teo until at least January increases River’s chances of winning back-to-back titles enormously but if he maintains this form a stay longer than that would be a surprise.
Wanting to avoid this being a complete River appreciation society – Lucas Pratto has also been finding goals easy to come by for Vélez as they remain on the heels of River and Independiente midfielder, Federico Mancuello has popped up with three important goals already this season (the opener against Atl. Rafaela and the winner against Olimpo and Racing).
GOAL OF THE MONTH
Desperately wanting to avoid going with River I am not selecting Carlos Sánchez’ opening goal in the win over Godoy Cruz, however I doff my cap to this effort. A lovely piece of interplay down the left frees Vangioni and his left wing cross is expertly volleyed in by Sanchez.
Sadly unable to completely avoid a leaning towards River, this effort from Ecuadorian youngster, Juan Cazares takes the prize this month. Matías Almeyda using his River contacts brought the 22-year-old to Banfield and this unbelievable strike earned the Primera new boys an excellent win over San Lorenzo.