Another month into the league season and Estudiantes are still going strong at the top of the Primera. However, between futsal success and football failure, it has been a busy month in Argentina and as always here is a quick recap along with our selection for manager, player, team and goal of the month for October.
Argentina’s futsal team ensured October got off to the perfect start by defeating Russia in Colombia to lift a first ever World Cup title but Edgardo Bauza’s Albiceleste promptly brought supporters back down to earth. The latest round of World Cup qualifiers produced further disappointment as Argentina without Lionel Messi floundered to a 2-2 draw away to Peru before suffering the humiliation of defeat on home soil to Paraguay.
The defeat and the later FIFA sanctions against Bolivia for fielding an ineligible player have left Bauza’s boys outside the qualifying places ahead of a colossal round of November fixtures. Messi will be back but a trip to Brazil before hosting Colombia is a daunting task for a team lacking confidence and in desperate need of points.
Bauza has drafted in two new faces from the Primera in Racing’s Marcos Acuña and San Lorenzo’s Fernando Belluschi but continues to ignore Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi. The controversial striker was back in the headlines this month after angering the club’s ultras with inflammatory remarks in his new autobiography.
He wasn’t the only Argentino playing abroad in hot water this month – Sebastián Pol was arrested in Chile after kicking a supporter in the head following his side Audax Italiano’s defeat to Universidad Católica.
Back with domestic matters, Estudiantes continue to reign supreme but actually dropped their only points of the season in a dire clásico Platense. In October’s other major derby, Newell’s Old Boys tasted victory over Rosario Central for the first in eight years to maintain their unbeaten start and cling onto the coattails of El Pincha at the top.
And finally, a couple of important cup competitions are reaching their climax – San Lorenzo reached the Copa Sudamericana semi final but have work to do after drawing 1-1 with Chapecoense in the Nuevo Gasómetro ahead of a testing second leg.
The Copa Argentina semi final line-up is almost complete and while River Plate wait for the winners of San Lorenzo and Gimnasia, we already know that Belgrano will face Rosario Central for a place in the final. El Canalla exacted revenge over Boca for last year’s controversial final defeat and ensured that Los Xeneizes won’t be in any international competition in 2017.
Manager of the month
It’s impossible not to be impressed by the job that Nelson Vivas has done at Estudiantes and if September’s relatively easy fixtures led many to reserve judgement, October has proved that El Pincha are the Primera’s team to beat. A dull, goalless draw in the clásico was the lull before stunning victories over Rosario Central, San Lorenzo and Racing. Vivas’ side are well-organised, dangerous on the break and have a balanced mix of wily experience and exciting youth players. 22 points from a possible 24 this season has opened up a four-point lead and the second best defence and the second best attack, there is almost no chink in the armour at this stage.
Team of the month
Player of the month
With talk of a move to Europe growing by the day it is only a matter of time before Santiago Ascacibar departs La Plata. The 19-year-old has been sensational since making his Estudiantes debut and shows no inconsistency that a player of his age may usually display. The diminuitive ball winner has played every game this season and aside from indefatigable workrate and tenacity in front of the back four, El Ruso has displayed an intelligence and variety in his passing. If El Pincha are to taste success under Nelson Vivas, in either this season or next year’s Copa Libertadores, Ascacibar will be central to that. The only question now is for long president Juan Sebastián Verón can ward off interest.
Goal of the month
Five to choose from….
a) Lisandro López – Racing Club v Patronato
b) Fernando Belluschi – San Lorenzo v Atlético de Rafaela
c) Martín Cauteruccio – Arsenal v San Lorenzo
d) Iván Torres – Vélez Sarsfield v Colón
e) Gonzalo Martínez – Arsenal v River Plate