After a summer break that lasted 80 days, football finally returned in March and it has been an action-packed month of drama, scandal, rumour and a spot of the beautiful game (run-of-the-mill for Argentina then).
Even after the month delay from the original restart date in February, a dispute over unpaid salaries with the players’ union forced the football season further back and only after the government finally released the outstanding Fútbol Para Todos money was the strike called off.
Almost four rounds into the restart and there hasn’t been any dramatic change to the league table with Boca Juniors still leading the way from Newell’s, Estudiantes and San Lorenzo and the same group of six or seven teams sweating over their averages at the foot of the descenso.
However, the administrative nightmare coupled with the four-match ban given to Lionel Messi by FIFA and Argentina’s struggling World Cup qualification, has left new president Chiqui Tapia with a great deal to sort out.
Argentina’s struggles at senior level have been mirrored by Los Pibes – the under-17s crashed out at the first round of the Sudamericano and while the under-20s scraped qualification to the World Cup in January, Diego Maradona oversaw a tricky draw in South Korea, with England up first in May.
In addition to domestic competition starting, the 2017 Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana got underway. It is still early days and while the door is far from closed for any of Argentina’s six representatives, for San Lorenzo and Atlético Tucumán, things are already looking complicated.
That was March, and these are our picks for manager, player, team and goal of the month….
Manager of the month
Gimnasia ended 2016 with back-to-back wins and Gustavo Alfaro’s side have continued that form with three straight victories since the restart. The 54-year-old organises his teams well and El Lobo’s defensive discipline has led to three one-nil wins, pushing Gimnasia up to seventh in the table.
Player of the month
Gustavo Bou has been almost back to his very best for Racing since the season restart and deserves a mention but one player putting his inconsistencies of the past behind him and fulfilling his promise in a River Plate shirt is Gonzalo Martínez. A goal and an assist in the win of Lanús, another in the victory against Belgrano and two assists to help overcome Godoy Cruz. Sebastián Driussi and Lucas Alario rightly took the plaudits in 2016, but Pity’s creativity and offensive threat has been central to River’s upturn in form
Team of the month
Goal of the month
a) Fabián Rinaudo – Gimnasia v Quilmes
b) Ignacio Scocco – Newell’s Old Boys v Vélez Sarsfield
PRIMERA DIVISIÓN | Ustedes votaron que el mejor gol de la fecha 16 fue el tercero de Ignacio Scocco a Vélez.🔝⚽ pic.twitter.com/B3lDreoj6T
— Encuestas de Fútbol (@Encuesta5Futbol) March 25, 2017
c) Mariano González – Huracán v Defensa y Justicia
d) Carlos Auzqui – Lanús v River Plate
e) Cristian Pavon – San Martín v Boca Juniors