Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Player Profiles: The Offensive Midfielders

Rubens Sambueza - A left midfielder, created by River's lower divisions. He made his debut in January 2004 and left everyone shocked by his talents. Unfortunately, he has never been able to live up to his hype. He has had great games, such as the ones vs. Corinthians in the Copa Sudamericana 2005 or vs. Boca in the Torneo de Veranos 2004 & 2007, but is irregular during the season. He hasn't impressed in any of the 4 season games so far. He has talent, though. If anyone gets the best out of him, he can become a very valuable player.

Victor Zapata - What I say? He's one of my least favorite players to ever dress a River jersey. Victor plays on the left side and supports more to the defense than to the offense. Maybe taking his position and giving it to Sambueza is what he needed, because the two games he played were great (entered as a sub in both). If he keeps up that level, he could be a fantastic player. (Note: That would be very doubtful).

Fernando Belluschi - Fernando can play on the right side, as a "double 5", or as a playmaker. Belluschi is, arguable, River's best and most important player. He jukes fairly well, but his specialties are giving amazing passes and beautiful shots. The team somewhat revolves around him, and he has shown his importance in tough matches, such as vs. Boca in the 3-1 for the Torneo Apertura 2006. Big clubs like Atletico Madrid have offered over $12 million euros for him, but River automatically rejected those offers. Upon hearing that clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona were after him, Passarella saild he was worth 30 to 40 million dollars.

Augusto Fernandez - A huge promise for the future, atleast in my opinion. Fast, young, good dribbling skills, nice definition: Augusto has all it takes to succeed in River. He plays on the right side and is very similar to Lucho Gonzalez. It is not a coincidence that Barcelona and Villarreal were interested in him in the past. For now, he is a substitute.

Diego Galvan - Despite not having everyone place their confidence in him at first, he's been doing a great job. Diego plays on the right side and never gets tired of running. He joined River from (the now B-Division side) Olimpo in 2005. After an unsuccessful first season with Los Millonarios, he was loaned to Estudiantes (LP) for a year and was an important part of their 2006 Apertura tournament win. He returned in January and has gained himself a spot in the first team.

Player Profiles: The Defensive Midfielders

Leonardo Ponzio - This #5 just arrived at River in January, but has a pretty impressive history: He won the U-20 World Cup with Argentina in 2001, and was transferred from Newell's to Zaragoza of Spain, where he was a starter for 3 years. This may seem like a some-what long career, but Leo barely turned 25 a few weeks ago. He has a great shot accuracy and recuperates the ball a lot. Not only that, but he is multifunctional, which makes him another option to play as a right defender or midfielder.

Oscar Ahumada - A good variation for the position. Despite Ponzio being the starter, this hasn't stopped him from playing: he came in as a substitue druing the second half in most games. A great option to switch off with Ponzio during this tough schedule.

Nicolas Domingo - The future #5 of River. This guy has serious potential, and I've been saying for a long time that he is the next Mascherano. He proved my words when he played in most games in the 2006 Apertura and was able to shine in important games, like the one vs. Boca, when outplayed and outclassed Gago. :)

Rene Lima - A youngster made in River's lower divisions. He was able to play a few games last season, but probably won't receive too many minutes this season, if any at all, due to the many options in his position.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Player Profiles: The Defenders

Cristian Nasuti - Another young player who could be important in the future. He has played for Morelia of Mexico for two years (on loan) and was very successful. Despite not currently being considered a starter, "El Tano" might be important for River when the packed Clausura and Copa Libertadores schedules start hitting in.

Danilo Gerlo -Although he is not usually a first team regular, "Paco" has been enjoying a spot as a starter lately and has played in all four games so far. He may not be the most talented defender ever, but he makes sure to mark his presence in the big matches, such as vs. Corinthians in the last Libertadores or vs. Boca in the Torneo de Verano.

Nelson Rivas - He was a surprise incorporation when he arrived in January. Not many knew who he was at first, but the Colombian knew how to leave an impact and rapidly reserved himself a spot in the hearts of the fans. His speed, strength, and physical attributes have earned him a spot on the first team, as well as an opportunity to sport the Colombian National Team jersey in the future.

Federico Lussenhoff - At 32 years of age, "El Colorado" adds experience to River's defense. Surprisingly, he hasn't started in anoy of this season's games so far, but he was our best defender last season and will continue being a key player this time around as well.

Eduardo Tuzzio - Another player who adds experience. Despite his age (32), he is very important and has played a few years in Europe. He was a key player in the 3 games he played this season (vs. Lanus, Newell's, and Col Colo) and the team heavily felt his absence vs. Racing. He learned to adapt to the left side and has become the best option in that position.

Cristian Villagra - This 21 year old plays the left back position and formed part of the $8,000,000 package River bought from Rosario Central. He made his official debut with "La Banda" last Sunday vs. Racing, but wasn't too impressive. We must give him time, though. I don't think Valencia, Villarreal and Boca would have been interested in him if he were bad.

Federico Dominguez - He isn't expected to play much, since there are more valuable options over him. Still, he adds speed and offensive power to the team. Unlike some, he actually feels and loves the jersey, being a River fan since he was a child.

Paulo Ferrari - The ex-Rosario Central player has secured himself a spot as River's right-back. He is very fast and has nice shots. He may not be the best option for defending, but he still defends and adds offensive depth at the same time. He can also play in the midfield on the left or right sides.

Midfielder and Fowards' profiles will be posted this week.

Player Profiles: The Goalkeepers

I am going to do a series of "player profiles" based on our current squad. Today's post will be based on the Goalkeepers.

Juan Pablo Carrizo - Despite being a very young player, Carrizo is undeniably an important figure in the team. He is arguably the best goalkeeper in Argentina, and is expected to have a clear, bright future at both club and international level. Big clubs, such as Milan of Italy, have inquired River for a transfer and are willing to exchange big digits for this star.

German Lux - If it were based on his talent, he'd be concentrating every game. But the situation is not currently circulating around that subject. "El Poroto" got into an argument with Daniel Passarella and doesn't even train with the team. The Argentine International, who won the Olympics without recieving even one goal, is expected to leave when his contract expires in June.

Bernardo Leyenda - This goalkeeper has played for Velez Sarfield, Banfield, and Independiente before joining River. The 26 year old also played for Leganes of Spain for a year. He joined our club in June 2006, but has yet to make his debut (hasn't played in any matches.. not even friendlies.)

Juan Marcelo Ojeda - Just like Leyenda, he is not a bad keeper, but is no where near Carrizo's level. He is 24 and has played a total 84 matches for Rosario Central in a 3-year long career. His term at River is expected to be similar to Leyenda's: being Carrizo's sub and recieving few or no minutes.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

River Plate: 4 - Racing Club: 2 - Torneo Clausura 2007

Good win by River.. We won 4-2, vs. Racing, a tough rival. We started off winning with a goal by Falcao, but Racing tied towards the end of the first half with a header by Sosa. In the second half, Falcao -once again-, Galvan, and Zapata gave us the win. Moralez cut the difference for the away side.

The team showed a good display of football in the first half, and parts of the second half. There were times, though, in which the team didn't play good. I don't blame them for that for a few reasons:

1) It was basically the same team that played on Thursday vs. Colo Colo in Santiago.
2) They ran a lot in the first half. Not only that, but it was said to be extremely hot, so it makes sense for them to be tired at certain points.

The Player Review:
I can't really say he deserves a 5 star rating, but he most definitely was very important for River. He scored two goals (1-0 and 2-1) and opened up the game for us.

Zapata: What a suprising weekend! I never thought I'd see Palermo score a goal that was actually nice.. I almost got a heart attack after that.. And now, Zapata actually played a good game! Nice assist and nice goal. Hopefully he keeps up level, but it is sort of hard to imagine.

Galvan: He had a great first half. Ran, gave good passes, nice shots.. A different Galvan compared to the one we saw on Thursday. In the second half you could tell he was extremely tired, yet he managed to make a goal (mostly thanks to Racing's horrible defending).

Gerlo: I liked how he played vs. Boca in the Torneo de Verano, but he hasn't been impressing me lately. They went right through him, and River's defense didn't seem really strong. Not to mention that Lussenhoff was River's best defender last semester, so we might have to reconsider this position's owner.

Villagra: I don't want to be too tough on him, since this is his first official game with River's jersey, but he didn't do much. Still, he's very young (20 if I am correct), and was wanted by some big teams before joining River. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

I insist that I would like to see more of Marco Ruben. It's not that I have anything against neither Falcao or Farias, but I've liked what I've seen from the ex-Central player so far. It might also do the the Fa-Fa duo good to have Ruben play, since they must be very tired after playing almost 90 minutes of the 4 matches so far.

Overall, good win for River. The team shined at points of the match, and was a pleasure to watch. We have won all 3 games played in the Argentine Clausura so far, and are leaders along with Arsenal, whom we will face in 2 weeks.
*Note: Click on the player names highlighted in red (before the player review) to view the goals.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

River - Racing: The Preview

We will be facing Racing tomorrow, on Sunday, February 25th. Despite being able to play as the home team, we won't be playing in the Monumental. Instead, River will host the match in Velez Sarfield's stadium, due to the suspension of the Estadio Antonio Vespucio Liberti. Rafael Furchi will be the referree of the game: hopefully he does a good job and doesn't favor either team.

Los Millonarios will most probably field the following squad:

Juan Pablo Carrizo;
Paulo Ferrari - Danilo Gerlo - Nelson Rivas - Cristian Villagra;
Diego Galván - Leonardo Ponzio - Fernando Belluschi - Sambueza;
Radamel Falcao - Ernesto Farías

We must remember that Eduardo Tuzzio will not be able to play, due to having recieved his 5th yellow card vs. Newell's Old Boys last Sunday.

Meanwhile, Racing will be bringing all their starters. "El Piojo" Lopez, an ex-Argentine National Team player, will be on the bench. The only player that will be missing will be Maximiliano Moralez, who formed part of the Argentina U-20 Team that qualified to the U-20 World Cup. Racing is coming from tieing their first two matches of the tournament, vs. Nueva Chicago and Velez Sarsfield.

The match will be shown live on Fox Sports en Español at 12 PM Pacific/3 PM Eastern Time. It will be replayed on Fox Soccer Channel at 2 PM Pacific Time/5 PM Eastern.

River Plate's Best Goals

A compilation I made of River Plate's best goals:

Sorry for the quality of the video, I know it's not the best.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Barros Schelotto a River fan?!?!?

Wow.. I would have never expected this!!! For those who don't speak Spanish or can't see the image clearly, it's a picture taken from an Argentine newspaper of Guillermo Barros Schelotto. This is from the time when he still was in Gimnasia (LP), and was barely debuting in the Primera Division. They asked him a few questions, and there were some suprises:

- Which team he would like to play for in Argentina: River Plate.
- Idol: Norberto Alonso :D

Of course this happens from time to time, such as the case of Passarella, but I was just completely shocked to see that Guillermo liked River.. How could someone who dreamed of one day playing for River all of a sudden detest Los Millonarios so much? If I were to become a fan of another club, I am still sure I would never be able to completely stop loving CARP, and most definitely wouldn't hate them.
Thank God he wasn't able to achieve his dreams though.. Imagine having to stand his crying, cheating, diving, protesting, biggest son of a bitch face and attidude everyday.. Dear God! I don't even want to imagine.. :)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Colo Colo: 1 - River Plate: 2 - Copa Libertadores 2007

River won their first match of the Copa Libertadores 2007 today, vs. Colo Colo, a Chilean side. Ponzio and Farias scored the goals.

It's good news for River to have gotten this tough match over with, and come home with the 3 points. Colo Colo is one of the toughest teams in the Libertadores, especially in Santiago, so we have to congratulate our guys. I would have loved more goals in our favor (which was very possible), but as long as we get the win, I am happy.

The Player Review:

Falcao was expelled unfairly. He jumped up to do a header and touched the Chilean player unintentionally.. The referee, just like in the rest of the game, did a bad call and expelled him.. This sucked for River, since we were dominating at the time, and, with one player less, we lost a lot of offensive power. River's next game will be vs. Caracas, and we will have to play without the Colombian. It is bad news, because you never want to lose a player, but it is also good at the same time since Ruben will earn the minutes he deserves. Not only that, but since we only have 2 fowards (unless Ortega returns by the time), Andres Rios will be able to make his official debut.

Farias was great today! Scored a goal, and ran like crazy. He contributed a lot to River's attacks, and I don't think we would have won without him.
Tuzzio and Ponzio, as well as Belluschi at times, were the other players who had a good game.

Ferrari showed a very poor display: didn't contribute much to the attack, and defended horribly. There were like 5 times in the first 20 minutes when Colo Colo entered River's area easily through his side.

Galvan had a bad match. Imprecise, bad passes.. nothing was working out for him. I liked the guy in the Verano though, so I would give him another shot. If he doesn't show a good level within the next few matches, I'd say give Augusto Fernandez an opportunity.

Sambueza didn't do good, but I don't think he did bad either. The ball barely ever went to him, and when he had it, he didn't mess up. Once again, I repeat, he didn't have a good game, but it wasn't like Galvan, who played a bad game.

Note: Click on the player names highlighted in red (before the player review) to view the goals.

LBDT - Personal Opinions

Personal Opinions:
    • Gonzalo Rey - If River thinks that by expelling a few guys violence will disappear, they are extremely wrong. In fact, things are just going to get worse. Violence, drugs, and robberies have high chances of returning to the stands. Kicking out a few
      leaders won't do anything: there will be people who will take their place, and abuse it. You can kick out the current leaders, and the next ones, and the next ones, but there will never ever be a situation where no one wants to take the spot. There will always be a replacement, and that's not good news for anyone, especially River fans who were a lot safer with Adrian and Alan in charge of LBDT.

    • Fernando Herz - I am angry at what happened.. You took it too far, and now, no more Monumental for you guys. Despite the negociations you guys may make, I was happy with you guys. I felt "protected" away and at home. You guys had put the crowd over La 12. You guys did things intellegently, and now I don't know how you guys messed up all of a sudden. The people who spoke bad about you guys only go to the Monumental and are only hypocrites. They probably don't sing songs in away games, or don't wear their River jerseys, or just don't attend those matches. Now everyone get ready for what's coming up.. Alan, Adrian.. Thanks for these five years! And I mean it seriously, don't listen to those who critisize you. We all have our "negociations" and we try to hide it. Hopefully your differences are resolved one day, and you both return to reign Los Borrachos del Tablon together.

    • Diego Silitti - I've been going to the stadium for over 20 years, and I've never felt as safe as I have in the last 5 years. There aren't problems in the popular, you can go there calmly with your family.. You can have your cell phone out, and even go straight from work with a suit and tie and nothing will happen, something which you couldn't do in the past. In my particular case, my father stopped going to El Monumental because they robbed him twice in River. This had disappeared for good. I hope this shit doesn't return. And I respect LBDT, I think only River fans can understand them, because they were always part of the passion. Their entrance, the flags, the drums, etc. Only River fans can understand it.

    • Viviana - Thanks to "Los Borrachos del Tablon", I go to the stadium with me son extremely calm. I never ever had anything unpleasureable done to me, and I've always felt the barra's protections, both at home and on the road. The few ocassions in which a dumbass did something stupid, I saw them take him out in a minute, just so it could be a pleasurable family atmosphere.

    • Nicolas - I am against violence, but I can tell you guys that I started going to "la popular" in 1999. I had to go dressed up as a bum, take my money well hiden, and always have a peso to share, because else you would have a bad experience. Like all others, I saw an infinite amount of chain, wallet, and jersey robberies in our own stands. How can a River fan rob another River fan? In away game, the police would come and hit us, and no one would do anything about it. Later on, Adrian arrived, and many of these people started disappearing. The thieves would get kicked out and recieved an ass-whooping. And they didn't even need to do this, that wasn't their job. I also remember several times when the police would come hit us, and they instantly reacted and defended us. It was a pleasure to be able to invite friends who had never been to the stadium, and tell them that nothing will happen and it will be a huge party. It's true, lots of barras are there for the money and other things, but now what will happen? The old bitches will return, or new bitches will come, and we will have to duck, or else they will hit you and the police will just watch. Lets not be hypocritical, because we are in Argentina, and we all know this will be for the worse, but hopefully I am wrong. All I know is that, despite being something hard to say, I will have to abandon the popular and go sit in a platea.

    • Tomer Video - The problem is that security shouldn't be provided by the fans, it should be done by the police.. But what can we ask them for, they don't do anything! The truth is, I had to experience the past "popular", and that is the reason I had previously stopped visiting the Monumental. In fact, at one point you couldn't even go to the plateas. The conclusion is that everything will remain the same: with corrupt political figures (including those in football clubs). Lets just hope that the "new leaders" of Los Borrachos don't change the good things created by them.

Los Borrachos del Tablon: Banned

River decided to expell 6 hooligans who got in an argument at the club vs. Lanus, which involved weapons. Now, they will make an attempt to be able to play in the Monumental once again.

Meanwhile, the leaders of Los Borrachos del Tablon, Alan and Adrian, will try to conduce the barra from the outside. At the same time, several members of past barra-bravas will try to fill in their empty space. This just looks like a path to more violence, if you ask me.. One barra, the most powerful in Argentina to be precise, without a leader.. Dear god, that just isn't good news. In fact, six groups will supposedly be fighting for power: the groups from Fuerte Apache, Merlo, Lomas, Claypole, Villa Constituyentes and el Oeste. The last group is conduced by "el Turco", a leader of the barra in the past. Many believe he will have top power soon. River's directives are also afraid of this new scenario: "They don't bring back good memories", they say. They also agree that with Alan and Adrian there weren't either drugs nor robberries in River's stands. This barra, unlike ones in the past, had eliminated drugs, robberies, and violence from River's stands. Now that "el Turco" might return to the head of River's barra, all those things might come along with him.

Another interesting thing is the power flags hold in our current day society. "What, a flag? They are just pieces of cloth, they don't mean anything." If you are thinking that, then you are most definitely wrong. The flags displaying the barrabravas name, Los Borrachos del Tablon, mean a lot. Adrian took them on Sunday night from the Monumental, their usual hideout, and they are now in a secret location. It doesn't mean that there won't be new leaders, but they do have a high significance.

The battle for the top ranks of Los Borrachos del Tablon has begun. What will the final result be? Many fear an unfavorable outcome, for both barrabravas and fans.. Personal opinions coming up in the next post.