Two months into the Torneo Transición and although there are no relegations to concern ourselves with and Marcelo Gallardo’s River Plate are looking increasingly like the champions elect, there is still plenty to review in September. Lionel Messi passed another memorable milestone, Gerardo Martino named his first Argentina squad after a convincing win over the World Champions and much more. As always, Golazo takes a look back and selects the Manager, Player and Goal of the Month….
Lionel Messi celebrated scoring his 401st goal of his career last week for Barcelona, taking centre stage in Luís Enrique’s side’s 6-0 thrashing of Granada. The Argentina captain also moved to 248 goals in La Liga leaving him just 3 behind the record of 251 set by Atlético Bilbao’s, Telmo Zarra between 1940 and 1955. Barring a miracle, Messi will surpass this during October as the records continue to tumble.
Messi was named in Gerardo Martino’s first real Argentina squad as once again the name of Carlos Tevez dominated the headlines. Following the lead of Alejandro Sabella, there was no room for Tevez but Messi will lead the new look Albiceleste in October as they head to China to face Brazil on October 11th.
Earlier in the month and without captain Messi, Martino saw his pre-picked Argentina squad deservedly defeat World Champions, Germany in Düsseldorf. Manchester United’s Ángel Di María shone brightest with a virtuoso performance that proved too much for Germany’s reshuffled side. It may have only been a friendly but Tata Martino could hardly have asked for a better start to life as Argentina boss.
Two former Argentina internationals announced that they were battling illness and undergoing treatment or surgery. Newcastle United midfielder, Jonás Gutíerrez revealed that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer a year ago and has been under-going chemotherapy while World Cup winner, Mario Kempes has undergone a triple heart bypass in the USA after doctors were left shocked by the degree in which his arteries were blocked. Obviously we wish them both the very best.
Meanwhile back in Argentina’s domestic football, San Lorenzo announced that their new stadium, back on the traditional site in Boedo will be named the Estadio Papa Francisco, in honour of their most famous fan and they also signed Colombia captain, Mario Yepes as the club and the fans wait for the chance to face Real Madrid in the World Club Championship in Morocco.
We were also treated to, or perhaps subjected to, three Clásicos Platense as Estudiantes and Gimnasia squared off twice in the Copa Sudamericana and again the Primera. All three matches were rather forgettable and perhaps the highlight came away from the match when Gimnasia hired the services of a dwarf witch to attempt to break any hoodoo of playing their rivals in the Estadio Único (Note: It failed to work. In spite of the ritual Gimnasia lost to Estudiantes and were knocked out of the cup.)
MANAGER OF THE MONTH
River Plate obviously remain unbeaten and so Marcelo Gallardo deserves all credit but in September, Lanús have begun to show signs of their old selves and with 3 wins and 2 draws, including a deserved draw against Gallardo’s River, they have climbed up to third in the table. Guillermo Barros Schelotto as always has found himself watching a couple of matches from the stands as he continues to set all types of records for the manager most often sent from the dugouts but his record at Lanús is excellent. When his side are playing well they are one of the most dangerous in the Primera and perhaps if they can continue this run of form might be able to apply some pressure on River at the top of the table.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Independiente’s somewhat lofty and certainly surprising position in the Torneo Transición in large part can be attributed to the impressive contribution of 25-year-old midfielder, Federico Mancuello. Mancuello has had a slow start to life with El Rojo but has sparked into life under Jorge Almirón in the current championship. 7 goals in total, one in each of the four matches in September and more often than not the crucial winning goals. Following last month’s winner in the clásico, Mancuello followed it with the winner against Banfield and the decisive opener against Rosario Central. Coupled with his assists, Mancuello has been involved in more goals than any other player and his goals have attributed to more than half of Independiente’s points.
MATCH OF THE MONTH
Ok, it’s the Argentine Primera División not one of Europe’s elite leagues but Independiente’s 5-3 win over Quilmes in the Estadio Libertadores de América was the pick of the bunch. 8 goals, 2 penalties converted by goalkeeper, Diego Rodríguez and a game which went back and forth until injury time when Claudio Riaño and Fede Mancuello finally sealed the points for El Rojo.
GOAL OF THE MONTH
Difficult to pick one, as outside the Primera División there were a couple of absolute blinders. First off, Juan Román Riquelme gave us all a reminder of his free kick prowess with this the winner against Racing in the Copa Argentina….
The man filling Riquelme’s boots at Boca, Andrés Chávez, provided this absolute stunner in his side’s victory over Rosario Central in the Copa Sudamericana….
In the Nacional B, and against Riquelme’s Argentinos Juniors side, Marcos Figueroa gave San Martín victory with this long range beauty….
And in the Primera, when the top two sides met in El Monumental, River Plate deservedly thumped Independiente. Rodrigo Mora added the icing with this exquisite lob. A perfectly timed run, good first touch and then a measured lob over Rodríguez, on his weaker foot.