Julio Grondona’s monstrous 30-team Primera finally arrived and now one month in it is still as utterly dreadful as we all knew it would be. However, that does not stop Golazo Argentino taking a look back over the month of February, reviewing the headlines and selecting the manager, player and goal of the month.
The very first day of the month witnessed Boca Juniors humiliate rivals River in one of their summer friendlies and although the fact that it was a friendly renders it absolutely meaningless it did give an early glimpse of Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s new look side and provided the kickstart to what has been a very successful start to 2015. A strong start in the Copa Libertadores and a 100% record in the league, even the early misdemeanours of new signing Daniel Osvaldo haven’t been able to dampen the mood in La Bombonera.
Boca of course are not alone in the Copa Libertadores and all six of the representatives have made decent enough starts. Expectation for the Argentine clubs is high but it understandably has already had an effect on the clubs domestically. Racing in particular have looked unstoppable when facing continental opposition but have found matters a little more difficult when returning to domestic duties.
Internationally, it was a successful month for Argentina, as Humbertito Grondona led the under-20 side to South American championship glory. Captain, Ángel Correa and leading scorer, Giovani Simeone fired Los Pibes to the trophy and booked their place at the World Cup in New Zealand later in the year and the Rio Olympics in 2016.
So, two and a half rounds of the 2015 Primera División passed in the month of February and the return of competitive football after a summer of friendlies only went so far in papering over the glaring flaws in the monster 30-team league. To avoid listing all of those (once again) we will get on to the awards.
Manager of the Month
Boca and Estudiantes have also enjoyed perfect starts to the league season in 2015 but most of us who follow Argentine football thought that they had both enjoyed decent breaks and signed well in the window. However, after a Transición where they finished fifteenth, Rosario Central have been something of a surprise package so far. Three out of three, including an opening day victory away to champions Racing is a real feather in the cap of young manager, Eduardo Coudet. As a player, Coudet was incredibly well travelled but the top job at Central is the first for the 40-year-old. Bringing Marco Ruben and César Delgado back to Rosario has proved to be decent business, little Franco Niell continues to impress and youngster Franco Cervi looks to have a bright future but it is defensively that Coudet appears to have made some real improvements. One of the weakest defences in the Transición has shipped only one in their opening three matches.
Player of the Month
A little difficult to make a meaningful decision here given that in some cases there have been just two games played but central to Boca’s good form has been the renaissance of Fernando Gago. Since coming back to La Bombonera, Gago’s good performances have been few and far between and particularly under Carlos Bianchi when he was often pushed forward in the absence of Juan Román Riquelme, Gago appeared lost. However, in recent weeks, the 28-year-old has started to resemble something like the player that Daniel Angelici would have wanted when he sanctioned the move for the Argentine international. Gago has always been an excellent passer of the ball and in Arruabarrena’s current side with the youthful running of Calleri, Meli, Chávez et al running ahead of him he has excelled. Given the youthfulness of the current side Gago has also exhibited a new found leadership and stepped up to convert the opening penalty against Olimpo.
Goal of the Month
It is now in your hands! 8 to choose from, watch the selection and vote for the best….simple.