Welcome to the first installment of a new weekly round-up that will bring you up-to-date with the latest developments in Argentine football and beyond. Let's get straight to it...
Over the weekend, Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United (United States) signed midfielder Ezequiel Barco from Independiente. Barco, only 18 years old, made 38 senior appearances and scored five goals over the past season and a half for the Avellaneda-based club, helping them to the Copa Sudamérica title last year.
The move is unusual for several reasons: at US$15 million, it was the most expensive MLS transfer in the history of the league; few players leave Argentina for a parallel league, instead staying within the country or moving to Europe; Barco is a promising young talent moving to a league with a reputation for importing ageing European stars.
The last games of the Torneo de Verano, played between Superliga clubs during the league’s summer break, finished up this weekend.
The highlight was of course yet another iteration of the Superclásico between River Plate and Boca Juniors late on Sunday. River Plate won 1-0 with a 41st-minute goal from Rafael Santos Borré, and Boca’s Julio Buffarini saw red in the 86th.
The Superliga begins again on Wednesday with the previously postponed game between Independiente and Rosario Central. Friday through Monday sees a full slate of games for the first game week of the second half of the season. Boca currently lead San Lorenzo by three points at the top of the table.
The weekend's results:
Huracán 2 - 0 San Lorenzo (Tuesday)
Belgrano 1-1 Talleres Córdoba (Wednesday)
Boca Juniors 2 - 2 Aldosivi (Wednesday) (Aldosivi won 4-2 on penalties)
Banfield 1 - Newell’s Old Boys 1 (Thursday) (Newell's won 4-3 on penalties)
Lanús - Estudiantes SUSPENDED (Thursday)
Independiente 2 - 2 Racing Club (Friday) (Racing won 4-3 on penalties)
San Lorenzo 1 - Gimnasia 1 (Saturday) (San Lorenzo won 3-1 on penalties)
Boca Juniors 0 - 1 River Plate (Sunday)
Lionel Messi bagged two goals and an assist in first-place Barcelona’s 5-0 win at 11th-place Real Betis on Sunday. Barcelona are now 11 points ahead of second place Atlético Madrid in La Liga. Javier Mascherano did not feature. According to reports, he has played his last game for Barcelona and will soon move to Hebei China Fortune (China).
Sergio Agüero scored all three goals in first-place Manchester City’s (England) 3-1 win against 15th-place Newcastle United on Saturday. He now has 16 for the season, third overall in the race for the Golden Boot. Nicolás Otamendi played the entire 90 minutes.
Ángel Di María played 61 minutes in first-place Paris Saint Germain’s (France) shock 2-1 defeat against second-place Lyon on Sunday. It was only PSG’s second league loss of the season and puts Lyon within eight points of the Paris club at the top of the table. Javier Pastore came on as a substitute in the 87th minute.
Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero were on the bench but did not play in second-place Manchester United’s (England) 1-0 win over eighth-place Burnley, which keeps them 12 points behind Manchester City.
Nicolás Gaitán did not feature in the 18 on Saturday in second-place Atlético Madrid’s (Spain) 1-1 draw with ninth-place Girona. He may be leaving the club in January, according to rumours in the press.
Éver Banega played 86 minutes in sixth-place Sevilla’s (Spain) 3-0 win over 14th-place Espanyol.
Érik Lamela played the last 20 minutes of fifth-place Tottenham’s (England) 1-1 draw with 18th-place Southampton.
Gonzalo Higuaín played 90 minutes but did not score in second-place Juventus’ (Italy) 1-0 win over 16th-place Cagliari.
Ezequiel Lavezzi plays for Hebei China Fortune, which begins their season in the Chinese Super League in March.
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