Saturday, June 22, 2013

Campeon Torneo Final 2013. To Whom Goes The Credit?


It has been far too long since I visited these pages and written a single word about my beloved Newell's Old Boys. It has been far too long since we last claimed a title. The later was fixed mid-week when Lanús handed Newell's the Torneo Final 2013 title by losing to Estudiantes 2-0, but we do not owe them any thanks. I wish they could have won that game, so that La Lepra could have won the title tomorrow by beating Argentinos Juniors at home. Now that final game will be one big party, but it would have been far wilder, far more enjoyable had we claimed the title on the field.
 
So who is owed the thanks for this championship? Some will say the return of Ingnacio Scocco, Maxi Rodriguez, and Gabriel Heinze was the key to the victory. Each had there part to play, it's true, but was that truly the key to our success?

Nacho for all his goals he certainly is significant. But when Super Scocco, as I took to calling him on Twitter, was rested for the Copa Libertadores (a front we are still fighting on) it was Maxi Urruti that stepped up mostly coming on as a late substitute.

La Fiera Rodriguez was certainly a force to be dealt with. Minor injuries and being rested for the Copa gave room for the likes of Victor Figueroa and Martin Tonso to step in and have their moments of glory.

Same thing can be said about El Gringo Heinze. In the matches he missed it was up to the rest of the defense to make up for the hole his absence left, with Victor López and Guillermo Ortiz taking his place.

Some will say that it was Tata Martino as coach that made the difference, and certainly he had a huge influence on this team. Fielding a team that was often said to be a 4-5-1 formation, it more often looked like they were in an old school 4-3-3, the formation that was used by the first group of Leprosos to claim a title. While other teams that were playing in both the Torneo and the Libertadores concentrated on the Copa at the expense of the league, Tata rotated players so that, having claimed the domestic title, we could see the team claim a double. Or, it could be claimed a double should we beat the Torneo Initial champions Vélez Sarsfield on June 29 in Mendoza. (It is only a game played for pride, as AFA now have backed away from the original plan of this one game crowning one single champion for the 2012/2013 season.)

Pablo Perez was a huge factor on the right side of midfield. Early on Fabián Muñoz made his mark before sadly going down to injury. The Peruvian international Rinaldo Cruzado did not play often, but certainly had an impact.

All three of our defensive midfielders played their part. Lucas Bernardi has been as good as he as ever been. Hernán Villalba almost made us forget that Bernardi was serving a suspension early on, but sadly was not available due to injury for the rest of the season. Diego Mateo filled in when needed.

The play of goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán has gotten stronger with every game he has played. Certainly he has some credit for Newell's winning the title. His back up, Sebastián Peratta, he whom I still call San Peratta filled in and put in his usual solid performance in a number of games.

So who gets the credit for winning this title? No one, but every one. Every player, Martino and all of his coaching staff, the grounds keepers and the fans. No one deserves to not take some credit for this achievement. May this be the beginning of a new golden age for the team.

Dale Newell's! Dale La Lepra! Dale Campeon!

Now let's see about lifting that Libertadores trophy, shall we?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Sense Of History

Newell's have won a few and lost a few games since I last posted here. Anyone who really cares knows what happened in those games, and I think that may be a part of why I haven't been writing as much. I feel into a trap of reporting match score, rather than talking about my passion.

Today, something happened that spurred my passion. Today I was browsing through a futbol forum when I came across a posting in the Argentina History and Idols thread that required me to respond. The conversation was about the sense of history the Argentine people have for the sport, along with their neighbors in Uruguay, and their perpetual rivals in England. Someone used Rosario Central fans celebrating a goal scored by Aldo Poy against Newell's Old Boys some 40 years ago as an example of this...

Poy? You want to talk about a goal worthy of celebration between Newell's and Central? Let's talk Mario Zanabria's goal against Central in 1974 which gave Newell's their first championship. I was not there to see it. We left Argentina to return to the USA mere months before it happened. Thankfully footage has been found, and while the quality is not the best, I can now say I have seen the most significant goal in Lepra history.


Sadly, the USA has absolutely no sense of history for the sport, or very little at best. There were a number of professional leagues back in the 1920, I believe it was, but they faltered. NASL came and went. MLS looks to stable, but it will be decades before it will really take hold, if it ever does.

By heritage my family is Welsh (though some of my siblings will argue we're English), a country where Rugby is king. The Welsh league only has one pro team. I'm sure there are a few fans who have a sense for the game's history there, but nothing like Argentina, Uruguay and England. I'm sure that just about every nation where futbol is the main if not only sport will claim to have that feel of the history. On an individual fan basis I'm sure it's true... but on a National level?

I consider myself lucky to have spent the 3 1/2 years in Argentina during my youth. It infected me with a love for the sport, and of course for Newell's. Had my father's job taken him to any other country? Who knows if I would have gained this passion.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Newell's Old Boys Earn Place In 2013 Libertadores

I had the day off, having scheduled my final floating holiday for the year a few months ago. When I saw that Newell's Old Boys were playing today I was all set to sit down and watch the game. For the first half, it was not meant to be. The channels through which I normally watch had Newcastle United playing Wigan in the English Premier League, a rebroadcast Boca Jrs match, and an Argentine highlight show, but no Newell's against At. Rafaela. I asked for a few via a tweet (twitter post, for those who do not know) and soon had a link... but I did not have the proper plug-ins to run the video via the website. Nothing was going my way.

So, I watched the first half of Newcastle and Wigan... on TV, no internet needed, and kept track of the Newell's match via Twitter, and checked out the first goal by way of Ole. Fabián Muñoz scored his first goal of the season in the first minute of the match to give Newell's a 1-0 lead. And that is how the first half ended.

At half time I took a break to take a shower, I'd spent the day doing some cleaning up around the house and really needed one. When I got back to the computer I again checked my usual sources for futbol feeds and found that yes indeed someone was showing the match. I loaded it up and found they were fifteen minutes into the second half, and Muñoz had scored his second goal of the day. Meanwhile, I still had Newcastle and Wigan going on the television. When Newcastle took a 3-0 lead my gut told me that Newell's were going to get a third as well. I put it off as wishful thinking...

And then, in the 84th minute Muño, the man of the match, sent a ball toVíctor Figueroa who launched a looping ball that set Ignacio Scocco with only the goalkeeper to beat. Scocco scored and Newell's ended the day with a win that sends them into the 2013 Copa Libertadores in style.



With only one game left Newell's find themselves in a three way tie for second place along side Lanús and Belgrano with 33 points. There is no longer a chance at a title as Vélez Sarsfield claimed that with a 2-0 win yesterday against a hapless Unión de Santa Fe.

Final match for La Lepra will be next weekend away to Argentinos Jrs.