Saturday, July 28, 2007

July 28th: Updates

No big updates have occured lately, though minor details have happened. To start off, our debut game in the Torneo Apertura 2007 vs. Gimnasia (JJ) has been postponed till August 23rd. So far this is official, but it could be moved back: it was done due to River protesting that the Korean tournament reduced their training time. Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo barely finished their tours today, causing the "Xeneizes" to be angry and demand our match to be played Sunday. I, in fact, agree with Boca, and would prefer to have the match played on August 5th instead. Why? Simple:

1) I can't stand another minute without River. The last match I was able to see was on June 15th vs. Velez Sarsfield! A delay would make us all wait till August 12th, when we face Newell's Old Boys.
2) Moving the match would make our schedule a lot more complicated, causing us to play 4 matches in 10 days (19th vs. San Lorenzo, 23rd vs. Gimnasia (JJ), 26th vs. San Martin (SJ), 29th vs. Estudiantes). This would over-exhaust many players, especially since that would include two of our toughest games of the year, as well as a long trip to Jujuy.

Besides that news, more transfer rumours have been flying around. Unfortunately, Marcelo Carrusca is almost a Boca player: Galatasaray accepted Boca's offer. They had also accepted ours (which included bigger digits), but they weren't fully convinced with Aguilar & Co.'s form of payment. Now, the ex-Estudiantes must only sign the contract, and he will officially be a Boca player. Great! (*Sarcasm*) So, now that we have few alternatives for left-midfielder, who can we bring in? Well, our dirigentes are looking for business groups to put in some money and aquire Rodrigo Archubi. Lanus requests 3 million dollars for the entire transfer, while River will be looking to purchase only 50% through a method similar to the one used to bring in Belluschi and Rosales. Meanwhile, the possibility of incorporating Roque Santa Cruz has died down (he joined Blackburn Rovers). Besides these players, Ronald Raldes (defender) and German Montoya (goalkeeper) are still in our plans.

In today's friendly match vs CAI, which ended in a final score of 2-2, there was a pleasant surprise. "Sixto Peralta played and did well?" No, in fact he played for the reserves and didn't impress. "Ariel Ortega returned, and had an amazing performance?" Not exactly: He actually had the same story as Peralta. So what happened? Diego Buonanotte was given the opportunity to be our starting playmaker, and ended up scoring our two goals! The match was not shown on TV, but the youngster's performance was hailed as sensational. After all the praises he received, he was given a chance to prove himself and payed back in the same exact way that everybody expected. Will he be given an opportunity in our debut vs. Newell's? Perhaps, who knows? One thing is for sure: this kid has future.

Friday, July 20, 2007

River Eliminated From Peace Cup, but Looking Foward to (Hopefully) Positive Future

Despite the 3-1 loss to Lyon, the airs at the Monumental seem to have calmed down. The defeat left River out of the tournament (sharing the first place spot, but with a worse goal difference) and without a great opportunity to make an extra $1.5 million dollars. Either way, many seemed to have been satisfied with the team's display at the Korean tournament. I was not able to see any of the games, due to lack of television coverage, but once again heard of the teams positive performance. This time we faced Lyon, the team with most titles in the 21st Century -including the last 6 French League titles played-, yet we were able to dominate the game and take a total of 19 shots! Unfortunately, only one was able to go in (scored by Marco Ruben) and Lyon snatched the qualification from our hands.

Here are the highlights of the game:

As for transfers, Daniel Passarella has been presented with his first reinforcement for the coming season: Sixto Peralta. The midfielder played for several clubs in his career, including Racing Club, Huracan, and Tigres of Mexico. He is currently 28-years old and would be joining on loan. I am not too excited about his arrival, and, in fact, am rather upset. Last season he was loaned to Racing, but failed to impress throughout his whole stay there. Now, can someone clarify how he would be able to do well in River but not in Racing, especially this late in his career? All I am hoping is that he doesn't convert Augusto Fernandez or Matias Abelairas into substitutes. The two youngsters are on fire at the moment and deserve to play each and every minute of the coming semester.

Are there any other possible arrivals? Of course! The team still wants to bring in Marcelo Carrusca, but he is no longer a priority due to Peralta's arrival. Surprisingly enough, the ex-Estudiantes player's future could be at Boca Juniors. If he doesn't join our team, lets just hope he stays in Turkey.

Meanwhile, River's dirigentes are still negociating to bring in Justo Villar. There are some differences in the price tag, due to River wanting to pay only $1,000,000, but everything seems to indicate that he will end up joining us. There also seems to be a pleasant surprise for our offense: the teams negociations with Bayern Munich to bring in Roque Santa Cruz, the Paraguayan National Team star. With the Germans putting him behind other fowards, our club decided to go on and request a loan. Despite the intent, it would be hard to get him to join us: he has offers from Sevilla, West Ham, and a few other European clubs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Goodbye and Goodluck: Carrizo to Italy

It was too good to be true: River was winning every friendly match played till now and in a fantastic manner (at least according the Argentine press). Not only that, but no key players -other than Ernesto Farias- had been sold. Well, all our joy and happiness is now over: Juan Pablo Carrizo has been transfered to Lazio for $10,000,000 dollars. The club will keep a total of $7,500,000, after the players' and others' perecentages are subtracted. Who will replace Carrizo at goal? Well, for now it would be Juan Marcelo Ojeda, who has been the starting keeper throughout the Peace Cup. Either way, River's dirigentes are negociating to bring in Justo Villar. The 30-year old has plenty of experience, including a title with Newell's Old Boys as well as two World Cups with Paraguay (2002 & 2006). Newell's currently demand $1,200,000 for the goalkeeper, a price that is accesible. Despite that, he doesn't fully convince me: I would much rather go after German Montoya of Belgrano, who is valued at $1,600,000. Four-hundred thousand dollars more for a goalkeeper 6 years younger and with a bright future? Sounds like a good deal to me! Still, River have him as a back-up plan in case Villar cannot join us.

Meanwhile, Diego Armando Barrado will be joining Olimpo, a side that was recently promoted to Primera. Although a $400,000 transfer was speculated, Barrado will only be joining Rivarola's team on loan, due to River's high hopes of a raise in his price tag. Possible reinforcements? The closest one at the moment seems to be Marcelo Carrusca's $200,000 loan in. The ex-Estudiantes player is currently playing for Galatasaray (Turkey) and is excited about the chance of joining River. Luckily for us, he can play in two positions we lack players in: left-midfielder and playmaker. The negative part of this transfer would be that, in order for him to be a starter, either Matias Abelairas (left wing) or Augusto Fernandez (right/central midfielder) would have to be left out. These two players have been great lately and have been a key part of the team's recent improvement. I am hoping Carrusca's possible arrival doesn't stand in the way of their playing time.

As for our team, River defeated Shimizu S-Pulse by a margin of 1-0, with Matias Abelairas once again being our savior. This means that we would proceed to play the final vs. Bolton Wanderers by just tieing vs. Lyon on Thursday.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

River Plate - Shimizu S-Pulse: The Preview

River will be facing Shimizu S-Pulse of Japan tomorrow, in what will be our second game in the 2007 Peace Cup. In their first match, the Japanese side lost 2-0 to Olympique Lyon of France, while we defeated Reading FC of England by 1-0.

Shimizu S-Pulse is a club with history and is currently one of the most powerful teams in Asia. In their 16 year history, they have won the Asian Cup Winners Cup once, as well as each of the three Japanese Cups.

One of their key players is Cho Jae-Jin, who has scored 34 goals in his 79 games at the club. The striker also played 29 matches for the South Korean National Team, and even participated at the 2006 World Cup. Besides him, there is Jungo Fujimoto, a midfielder who was chosen the Best Young Midfielder of the J-League in 2006. Despite being only 23 years old, he has already played a few matches for the Japanese National Team.

River will most likely repeat the squad that defeated Reading FC on Friday. This means that the team should look as follows:

Juan Marcelo Ojeda;
Paulo Ferrari-Eduardo Tuzzio-Danilo Gerlo-Cristian Villagra;
Fernando Belluschi-A. Fernandez-Leonardo Ponzio-Matias Abelairas;
Marco Ruben-Mauro Rosales;

The match will not be shown in the USA. In other news, Danilo Gerlo impressed Reading FC's President, who will be following "Paco" closely tomorrow. Since both Cristian Nasuti and Gerlo might leave (Nasuti is wanted by Genoa), River are looking to bring in Ronald Raldes of Rosario Central. Other than the Bolivian, Pablo Cesar Aguilar might join the squad. Aguilar is a Paraguayan central defender who currently plays for Sportivo Luqueno, a team from his home country. The youngster participated in Paraguay's U-20 squad and will be on trial for the team.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Night With Guillermo Barros Schelotto!

Guillermo Barros Schelotto never played for River Plate, yet he is one of the players I talk about the most. No, it is not because I like his style of play or admire him: it's because he's the player I have hated the most my whole life. Upon hearing that he would come play in Los Angeles vs. Chivas USA with his team (the Columbus Crew), I immediately decided to attend the match. Many think my hate for him is due to his past in Boca, but in reality it goes much farther than that. The cheating, the whining, the protesting... everything. Now, if players like Martin Palermo or Sebastian Battaglia (both are Boca players with an important history at the club) were to play in the MLS, I could care less when they come play in my city. But Guillermo's story was different. I just couldn't miss out.

I took a flag to the stadium (pictured) that stated "Guille amargo. No existis!". Upon the first "Guillermo!" yell I made, he waved, but then looked towards us and saw the River jerseys, read the flag, and heard the insults. His reaction was priceless. Anyway, he ended up laughing a bit, and continued on with the game. After the first half, some Boca fans that were present at the stadium got pretty upset. They threatened us by saying "If you put that flag up one more time we will break your head!", "Who are you calling 'puto'?!", etc. The security guard soon came to straighten things out, so nothing happened.

I appologize about the lack of relation between River and this post, but I just thought I'd share my story. Now what is related to River is the fact that we won 1-0 over Reading FC of England with a great free-kick by Matias Abelairas. Here's the video of the goal:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

River Plate - Reading FC: The Preview

River Plate will be making their official debut in the 2007 Peace Cup tomorrow vs. Reading FC, an English side. Despite being in existence for 135 years, the team was barely able to play in the FA Premier League for one year: in 2006, Reading achieved a succesful season and was promoted to the top British division. They completed the season surprising many and finished in the 8th position.

Even though they are (obviously) not one of the big English sides, they do have some quality players on their current squad. One of them is defender Nicky Shorey. Shorey is considered a historic player at the club, having played 231 matches with the blue-and-white jersey and has recently played in the English National Team (1-1 tie vs. Brazil in June 2007). At the moment, he is only 26 years old and seems to be a great left back. Reading also has a good offense, which includes Kevin Doyle, an Irish foward. During the last season, he scored 13 goals in the Premiership and was named the Young Player of 2006 by the Irish FA.

As for us, we are expected to field a similar team to the one we've been seeing the last few seasons. Despite some heavy speculations, Passarella seems decided to continue using the 4-4-2 formation for now. If he does repeat it, we will most likely be seeing the following eleven on the field:

Juan Marcelo Ojeda;
Paulo Ferrari-Eduardo Tuzzio-Danilo Gerlo-Cristian Villagra;
Fernando Belluschi-A. Fernandez-Leonardo Ponzio-Matias Abelairas;
Marco Ruben-Mauro Rosales;

Unless their is a last-minute change, that will be our starting team. There aren't many surprises, but there will be a few substitutes: Ojeda will be playing for Juan Pablo Carrizo (currently with the Argentine NT), Gerlo for Federico Lussenhoff (injured), Abelairas for Victor Zapata (transfered) and Mauro Rosales for Farias (transfered; Rosales returning from an injury). This doesn't seem to be a bad squad, but if it were up to me, there would still be some changes. One of them would be to give a youngster a chance as a playmaker. This is only a friendly tournament, and his mistakes wouldn't cost us as much as they would during an actual championship. If anything, only positive things would be found from this experience.

In other news, Genoa are interested in Cristian Nasuti and would be willing to pay $700,000 euros for 50% of his transfer. Besides him, Diego Barrado is close to Olimpo ($400,000) and Juan Pablo Carrizo is still being negociated with Lazio (our demands have been lowered to 7 million euros).

Friday, July 6, 2007

Transfer News: June 7th

Juan Pablo Carrizo: River's dirigentes an Carrizo's representative (Pablo Sabbag) will get together today to discuss Lazio's offer for the goalkeeper.

Nelson Rivas: Edited: The Colombian defender resigned his contract with River and surprisingly ended up training with Inter of Italy. His representative claimed that it was only going to be temporary, until he found a new club, but "Tyson" signed his contract with Italian giants today!

Federico Lussenhoff: The defender still has not signed his new loan. He is expected to do so soon, but if he doesn't, River will be left with few players in his position (Rivas left, Talamonti won't return from his loan, Gerlo has high chances of leaving, etc.) Edit: "El Colorado" signed his new loan contract last night.

Ernesto Farías: Since he could not reach an agreement regarding his contract with Lorient of France, he will be signing with Toluca. The Mexican club will put in $4,000,000 dollars for his transfer, leaving 2 million for River.

Federico Higuaín: Estudiantes still want him (River requested $2,000,000 dollars). Abadie, their President, will visit "el Monumental" today to discuss this matter. Reggina of Italy also want him. Jose Maria Aguilar, meanwhile, asked Passarella to give him a shot with River's jersey in our coming pre-season friendlies: he will be traveling to Korea to participate in the Peace Cup.

Diego Galván: Edit: River have finalized his transfer to Estudiantes for $900,000 dollars for 50% of the transfer.

Danilo Gerlo: Olympiakos of Greece is willing to pay $1,500,000 dollars for him. We own 50% of the defender.

Diego Barrado: Racing Club and Olimpo are interested in the midfielder (pictured). He is not needed/wanted in River, so his chances of leaving on loan once again are high.

Federico Domínguez: Julio Comparada, Presidente of Independiente, visited our stadium today to inquire about the defender.

Matías Oyola: Independiente have bought the left-wing for $370,000 dollars.

Ricardo Villalba: The defender is expected to leave to a Chilean team.

In other news, Argentina have been doing well in the Copa America (4-1 vs. USA, 4-2 vs. Colombia, 1-0 vs. Paraguay), with Crespo (2) and Aimar having scored in the first game, Crespo in the second one, and Mascherano in the third match. Overall, the team is playing great, and so are the ex-River Plate players.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Torneo Apertura 2007 Scheduled Released

The schedule for the 2007 semester has been created and known to the public for the first time. It will be tough, as usual, especially in the first half of the tournament:

1st round - 08/05/2007 - Gimnasia (J) vs. River Plate
2nd round - 08/12/2007 - River Plate vs. Newell's Old Boys
3rd round - 08/19/2007 - San Lorenzo vs. River Plate
4th round - 08/26/2007 - San Martín (SJ) vs. River Plate
5th round - 08/29/2007 - River Plate vs. Estudiantes (LP)
6th round - 09/02/2007 - Racing Club vs. River Plate
7th round - 09/09/2007 - River Plate vs. Vélez
8th round - 09/12/2007 - Arsenal vs. River Plate
9th round - 09/16/2007 - River Plate vs. Lanus
10th round - 09/23/2007 - Tigre vs. River Plate
11th round - 09/30/2007 - River Plate vs. Rosario Central
12th round - 10/03/2007 - Argentinos Jrs. vs. River Plate
13th round - 10/07/2007 - River Plate vs. Boca Jrs.
14th round - 10/21/2007 - Gimnasia (LP) vs. River Plate
15th round - 11/04/2007 - River Plate vs. Independiente
16th round - 11/11/2007 - Huracán vs. River Plate
17th round - 11/25/2007 - River Plate vs. Colón (Sta. Fe)
18th round - 12/02/2007 - Olimpo (BB) vs. River Plate
19th round - 12/09/2007 - River Plate vs. Banfield

River will have to get through a very complicated first-half of the tournament. In the first game, we must visit Gimnasia de Jujuy, who is always a hard team when playing at home. After that, we will have to face tough teams such as Estudiantes, San Lorenzo, Newell's Old Boys, Velez Sarsfield, Racing Club, Lanus, etc. The second-half of the Apertura will be easier, but will still include games vs. Boca, Independiente, Argentinos Juniors, and possibly some of the "surprise teams" of the season. We must also remember that Copa Sudamericana games will have to be added to this schedule, making it even more exhausting then it already is.

*Note: The schedule was taken off of River Plate's official website. Strangely enough, AFA's website has the same schedule, yet with different dates. If there are any changes, I will make sure to update them.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Few Transfers, More Rumours

After a few weeks of vacation, River Plate's players have once again met up for training with Daniel Passarella and the rest of the staff. Surprisingly, not many players have been sold (Sambueza being the only one, yet he was only loaned out) and no new players were incorporated. Still, there is about one month left till the beginning of the second semester, in which the team will (hopefully) compete for the Torneo Apertura and Copa Sudamericana 2007.

Even though there is no concrete news on transfers, there are still plenty of rumours flying around out there. Three of our fowards are still being chased after by other clubs, and may be on their way out of the club soon: Ernesto Farias (pictured above) is wanted by an anonymous Italian club. His represenative claims that it would round $4,000,000 dollars, but would have to be analyzed, since a French team is also interested in him. We must remember that River only own 50% of the ex-Estudiantes player, leaving us basically the same amount of money we invested in him about 2 years ago.

Federico Higuain is also wanted by several other clubs, and may also end up in Italy. Reggina are willing to pay $2,000,000 dollars, the same amount River requested when Estudiantes asked for him, so he has very high possibilities of moving to the "Old Continent". But he won't be migrating by himself: if it's not with Farias, it could be with Marco Ruben. Even though no club names have been mentioned, there are rumours of an Italian interest in him. No official offer has been made, but a rumour is a rumour. Edit: In fact, River now claim to have received a $3,250,000 dollar offer from Kia Joorabchian for 50% of the ex-Rosario Central foward's transfer. Kia is the same man who bought Javier Mascherano, Luis Gonzalez, and Carlos Tevez. We will just have to wait and see if his future is with a red and white jersey or not.

Other than fowards, the usual three are being mentioned. Juan Pablo Carrizo is still highly-wanted, yet no club is willing to step up and offer the $10,000,000 River requests. The closest offer has come from Lazio of Italy, who would be willing to deposit between 5-6 million euros for the goalkeeper. For now, the offers wouldn't be accepted, which has made his representative a bit impatient and angry at River's directives. Meanwhile, Danilo Gerlo is still wanted by random clubs. He claims to plan on staying at River, though, unless a highly-prestigious club is interested in his service. Last but not least is Fernando Belluschi. The midfielder is being negociated with Zaragoza of Spain at this moment. For now, the Spanish club hasn't presented a formal offer, but has made an official interest in the player.

As for players returning from loans, most (if not all) of them will have to begin planning their future elsewhere: Javier Gandolfi will be released and will become a free agent, Andres San Martin will extend his loan with Arsenal (Argentina) for $100,000 dollars, Gabriel Loeschbor might follow San Marin's footsteps, and Leonardo Talamonti is being negociated with Atalanta of Italy (same club that wants Oscar Ahumada).