A packed Primera schedule, cup competitions popping up in midweek and enough national team drama to last most countries a decade, April has been a hectic month in Argentine football. As always, Golazo recalls the key moments and selects a manager, player, team and goal of the month.
A career already littered with highlights, Lionel Messi produced another iconic moment in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu as the Argentina captain brought up his 500th goal for Barcelona with an injury time winner against bitter rivals, Real Madrid.
Spurred on by his international teammate, Javier Mascherano scored his first for the club after seven years and more than 300 games when Barça thrashed Osasuna but despite blowing the race open, it’s Madrid who remain favourites to lift the title.
The Argentine Football Association will this week be dealing with Messi’s four-match suspension but have been busy all month after their expected sacking of Edgardo Bauza. The unwanted coach held on despite it being clear the newly-appointed AFA head honchos had already made up their mind and after a drawn-out process, El Patón was out.
Since before the axe swung on Bauza, rumours that Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli was being lined up circulated and AFA president Claudio Tapia has now confirmed that and so if everything is agreed with the Spanish club, Don Sampa will be the new coach as soon as May 22nd.
Argentina under-20s coach Claudio Úbeda named his squad for the World Cup later this month in South Korea but even that has caused its fair share of controversy with Independiente reluctant to release Ezequiel Barco and Racing’s reporting an injury to Lautaro Martínez.
Back in the Primera, Boca Juniors still lead the way despite the slightest of blips coinciding with an injury to Ricardo Centurión but are being chased by Newell’s Old Boys, Colón and a host of sides a couple of points further back.
Undoubtedly benefitting from their lack of international competition, Argentina’s six Libertadores representatives are finding the busy schedule a little tougher. River Plate, Godoy Cruz and Lanús are in good shape to qualify for the knockout stages while San Lorenzo, Estudiantes (complete with Juan Sebastián Verón) and Atlético Tucumán have plenty of work to do.
Sadly, Argentine football was back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in April after Belgrano supporter Emanuel Balbo was killed during the Clásico Cordobés.
That was April, and these are our picks for manager, player, team and goal of the month….
Manager of the month
After breaking a club-record and chalking up seven straight victories with Colón, Eduardo Domínguez is without question the manager of the month. Having built on the fine work of Paolo Montero, the 38-year-old has managed to push El Sabalero forward thanks to the foundation of an incredible defence. Colón have conceded just once in their seven-match winning streak and since adding Diego Vera to the attack have a striker capable of taking the chances needed to win games.
Player of the month
Defeat to Temperley at the weekend has slowed Racing’s momentum having previously begun to look as though Diego Cocca might just repeat his title winning trick of 2014. Central to that formidable run has been Gustavo Bou, who stepped up in the absence of Lisandro López, to be the leader and on-field reference point for La Academia. Four goals from four matches only tell half the story as the Pantera’s contribution runs far deeper.
Team of the month
Goal of the month
a) Bautista Merlini – Tigre v San Lorenzo
b) Emiliano Rigoni – Patronato v Independiente
c) Matías Aguirregaray – Aldosivi v Estudiantes
d) Fabián Rinaudo – Gimnasia v Aldosivi
e) Rodrigo Mora – Tigre v River Plate
f) Diego González – Racing Club v Atlético Tucumán