The Ecuadorian match experience: The Casa Blanca


It was hard to believe that Sunday’s game in La Casa Blanca (the White House) was a derby or the “Clásico Capitalino”. Although the stadium was over half full there wasn’t the fervent atmosphere you would usually associate with a derby.

Maybe it was the 11.30am kick off that created the subdued atmosphere but as I ambled into the stadium I was fairly underwhelmed and a little disappointed.

La Casa Blanca or Estadio de Liga Deportiva Universitaria has been the home to LDU Quito (Liga) since 1997. With an official capacity of 55,104 is the biggest stadium in Quito and only smaller than the Estadio Monumental Banco Pichincha in Guayaquil, home of Barcelona.

The stadium cost a paltry $16 million to build and has the feeling of proper footballing arena. Unlike the Atahaulpa there is no deep, ditch nor running track to needlessly separate the fans from the action. Although there is a 20 foot net surrounding the pitch (to stop fools from throwing objects on the pitch and at players) you feel much closer to the action and have a better view than usual.

Behind both of the goals are two large banks of seats that contain the majority of home and away fans. At $7 for “Tribuna” entrance these areas are usually packed with the hard-core supporters who constantly sing, blow trumpets and bang their assorted drums. The atmosphere is excellent but you see little of the game, especially when they let off flares and choke everyone with thick, white smoke. With this in mind I decided to shell out an extra 4 bucks for the West stand, a seat and available cover from the beating, sun.

The seats are really just long benches of concrete where many can park their backside, put up their feet and sit their food. If you are hungry you need not move far to the many stands selling hotdogs and sandwiches.  Beer is readily available and free flowing with the national Pilsner, Budweiser and Brahma your choice.

At the Ecuador vs Colombia game in the Atahaulpa stadium a fortnight before the Police had decided to prohibit the sale of beer. The result was as hilarious as it was inevitable. Discontent and open abuse quickly soured into widespread rebellion leaving the Police helpless. When I ordered 4 beers shortly before kick-off they were passed over a scowling Police woman at that point resigned to the will of the people.

The East and West stands have the tribunal areas near the pitch-side and are shadowed by the many suites and boxes above. At times these stands above look more like the Grandstand at a horse race or Formula One track with a sort of egg-box set up. The stadium was obviously designed with the “prawn sandwich brigade” in mind but at $25 to entry the boxes are far from exclusive.

Even if you don’t want to venture towards the hot-dog stands at the back, many vendors wander between the seats and aisles selling food, drinks, chewing gum and cigarettes. The short, fat women bellow at their top of their voices:  “Sandwhiches, papas y agua”. After a while it gets tiresome especially if they stand in front of your view of the game.

The game itself was fairly boring. Deportivo enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and dominated a poor Liga. Despite this the fans of both sides continued to sing and battered there drums to the final whistle and a 0 – 0 draw.

The fans then slipped out of the stadium and onto the busy streets and markets outside. There was a heavy Police presence outside complete with horses, riot shields and even an armoured, Mad Max style tank but they were totally un-necessary. The fans were separated for a few hundred yards then they mingled together and boarded the many buses and taxis waiting to take them home.

As a fairly big match on the Ecuadorian Serie A calendar the “Clásico Capitalino” was a fairly, sedate affair. The stereotypical image of the Latin American football match is riots, passion and incessant noise but I suppose the “hinchas” alike the die-hard fans and ultras of Europe and the UK sometimes just want to chill out and watch the game on a Sunday.

Diego Maradona in his own words


Those who hate Diego Maradona will point to the “Hand of God”, his addiction to cocaine and his disqualification form USA 1994.

Those who love him shall point to his goal just after the “Hand of God”, his performances for Barcelona, Boca Juniors, Napoli and Argentina, his goals, his fights, his mazy runs and unmatched skill,  his honesty and his quotes ;



On the doubters and nay sayers;

“To those who did not believe: now suck my d**k – I’m sorry ladies for my words – and keep on sucking it. I am either white or black. I will never be grey in my life. You treated me as you did. Now keep on sucking d**ks. I am grateful to my players and to the Argentinian people. I thank no one but them. The rest, keep on sucking d**ks.”

On Scotland ;

“It was nice to get my first goal here in Scotland and it was very special. I feel great. I’m very happy to be back here after all this time and I’m proud to be heading the Argentina national side. I’m very much aware of how popular I apparently am in Scotland. It’s nice to see that I have made people happy and if I could do it again then it would be marvellous.

On Pele ;

“Pele should go back to the museum.”

On football organisation ;

Many people agree with me that many things are not clear in football these days and it is not something people who watch football deserve. The situation will be the same while football is run by people who do not understand football.


On politics ; 

“I believe in Hugo Chávez, I am Chavista. Everything Fidel does, everything Chávez does, for me is the best.”


On himself ;

 “I worked hard all my life for this. Those who say I don’t deserve anything, that it all came easy, can kiss my ass.”

Diego Armando Maradona and why we love him so

“I am very much aware of how popular I am and it’s great to think I’ve made them very happy,”

“It’s something that was very special to me. It was nice to start my international career and get my first goal here.

“I feel great. I feel very good. I’m very happy to be back in Scotland after so long away.

Ronaldo has the chance to upstage Messi

The European Championships may provide Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to finally upstage Lionel Messi but only if Portugal go all the way and win the competition.

The Portuguese hit man is constantly compared to the serial World Player of the year. At times it seems that no matter what Ronaldo does, Messi pops up to outshine and out impress.

For many it is unfair to contrast and compare the two as both are excellent footballers with differing abilities and skillsets however as both play on opposing sides of the “El Classico” divide it is inevitable.

Since his transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid Ronaldo has scored more goals than appearances and regularly broken all sorts of goal scoring records. The problem is the little Argentinian then goes on to raise the bar even further.

In the 2012 season Ronaldo finished with 60 goals in all competitions outstripping his previous seasons tally to become Real Madrid’s all time record goal scorer in one season. However, in this time Messi scored 73 goals in all competitions, (including 50 in to become Pichichi) entering the record books as the all-time European goal scorer.

Many may claim that goal scoring records prove nothing and are merely a reflection of a player’s selfish attitude and poaching ability but for anyone who has watched at least one of Ronaldo’s or Messi’s displays they will know there is much more to there games.

Ronaldo will have to exist in the shadow a greater force for just now. The same unfortunate circumstance is currently befalling the likes of Andy Murray in tennis and the many opponents of Floyd Mayweather in boxing. The only difference is while the other sporting stars accept their place it clearly rankles and frustrates the Portuguese captain.

Like many modern footballers Ronaldo has an ego as big as the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and is not shy in self-promotion and swollen headed boasting. He regularly likes to remind all and sundry of his merits and obvious capabilities and it is no surprise to learn that he thinks he is the best player in the world.

Some may argue that this type of confidence and vainglorious, cocksureness is a necessary aspect of the sporting elite but when he attacks Messi it smacks of arrogance and insolence, especially when the Argentine is usually so modest and composed in response.

Only last week in the aftermath of an underwhelming display against Denmark and taunts from Danish supporters of “Messi, Messi,Messi” he responded ;

“You know where he was at this time last year? Do you know? He was being eliminated in the Copa America, in his own country. I think that’s worse, no?”

A strange comparison, which although true was a nice way a deflecting his own performance and was even more stupid considering Messi had just ran the show in games against Ecuador and Brazil (I wonder if Cristiano was aware of this?)

Yesterday, Portugal managed to overcome a stubborn but limited Czech Republic courtesy of a late Ronaldo header. The Portuguese captain was again at his imperious best replicating his performance against the Dutch only being denied a hat-trick by the Czech woodwork.

Cristiano “I’m the best in the world,me,no really i am” Ronaldo

If Portugal are to win the championship the rest of their players must try to match their skipper as better teams than the Czech Republic will ask more questions of a limited defence and midfield. EPL stars such as Meireles and Nani in attack combined with a defence including Alves, Coentrao and the mercurial Pepe must raise their game to defeat the likes of Germany, Italy or Spain.

More importantly for Ronaldo his countries success will reward him with the opportunity to lord over Messi who has previously failed to win an international tournament (unless you count the Olympics? Me neither).

In typical fashion Messi would only go on to lead Argentina to World Cup success in 2014 sending Ronaldo into a spell of self-pity, sorrow and self-indulgence.

Deportivo Quito turn off the Lightbulbs.



After last week’s international game it was strange to return to a near empty Atahaulpa Stadium. Gone were the masses of yellow and instead was the blue and red of current Serie A champions Deportivo Quito.

Today’s opponents were Emelec of Guayaquil; Ecuadorian giants and Championship contenders.Image

Emelec are one of Ecuador’s most successful clubs with 10 titles and were formed in 1929 by American, George Capwell and named after his company; Empresa Eléctrica del Ecuador. For this reason they are known as the El Bombillo (The Lightbulbs) or Los Electricos (The Electrics). Their main rivals are Barcelona, also of Guayaquil and their city derbies are called the El Clásico del Astillero (The Shipyard Derby).

On Wednesday night Emelec lost the latest El Clásico del Astillero 1-0 in the George Capwell Stadium. The defeat was a double blow as it preserved Barcelona’s lead at the top of the table while Emelec fell 3 points behind in 4rth.

Deportivo Quito was still smarting from a 3-1 home defeat to Deportivo Cuenca on Wednesday. With their Championship chances already lost Deportivo Quito’s only competition was to finish above fellow Quito and Athaulpa dwellers El Nacional, who sat 2 points ahead of Deportivo in 7th place.


Deportivo Quito

Adrian Bone,

Isaac Mina, Luis Romero, Pedro Velasco, Mauritius Folleco,

Luis Saritama, Alex Bolaños, Edison Vega, Danny Luna,

Maxi Bevacqua        Luis Congo


Esteban Dreer

Mariano Mina, Oscar Bagiii, Gabriel Achilier, Eddy Corozo,

Pedro Quinonez, Efren Mera, Fernando Giménez,

Enner Valencia            Marcos Mondaini

Luciano Figueroa

Following their humiliation against Universidad Chile in the Copa Libertadores, Deportivo sacked their Argentinian coach, Carlos Ischia and replaced him with the Uruguayan, Nelson Acosta. Looking for his first win Acosta opted for attacking line-up which was positive right from the kick off.


Deportivo concentrated much of their attack down the left flank and through Luis Saritama in centre midfield. Several times during the opening exchanges Emelec had to clear crosses and scramble to last ditch tackles to prevent the intentions of Argentinian, Maxi Bevacqua.

In the 19th minute Deportivo took the lead through Danny Luna after he collected a Dreer parry then shot low into the Emelec net. From then on, Deportivo dominated the game and restricted Emelec to wild, long range efforts which never troubled the Deportivo goal-keeper.

Throughout the game both teams Argentinian centre forwards (Luciano Figueroa and Maxi Bevacqua) were slow and cumbersome, spurning many chances   and refusing to run down lost causes. If only they had taken inspiration from Andy Carroll’s forward display against Sweden they could have affected the game. Instead they looked more like the moody and selfish Zlatan Ibrahimovich.


The start of the 2nd half was scrappy with both teams committing rash fouls and cancelling out the midfield.

Deportivo finally managed to inter-link some passes together in 59 minutes which ended with Saritama sliding a through ball to Luis Congo. The attacker opted to cut the ball back but a sliding Achilier handled leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Congo was not to be denied again and he powerfully, dispatched his spot kick to double the home teams lead.

This looked to be the final result until Emelec grabbed a consolation with the last kick of the game. Fernando Gaibor did well to dribble past a couple of defenders but he was crudely taken down Luis Romero, again leaving the referee with no choice.

Somewhat selfishly Figueroa ripped the ball from Gaibor’s grasp, denying the youngster his penalty chance but claiming Emelec’s consolation.

Deportivo’s win made no change to their league position and they still languish behind El Nacional(who recorded a fine 2-1 win away to Barcelona) in 8th position.

In Sunday’s other games Independiente moved closer to leaders Barcelona with a 2-2 draw against Liga while Loja lost 2 points against Macara and continue to lie in 3rd place.


The last two rounds of games in Serie A did not shake-up the leading pack with the top 6 teams still only being separated by 4 points. As the league moves towards the closing stages all the top half of the table can have realistic championship pretensions.

Ecuador get back on track in World Cup qualifiers

Ecuador reinvigorated their World Cup qualifying campaign with a deserved victory against a poor Colombian team on Sunday afternoon.

“El Tri” dominated the match throughout and finally took the lead via the ex-Birmingham misfit Christian “Chucho” Benitez in 54 minutes; however the Ecuadorians second half profligacy almost cost them dear later when they lost Noboa to a needless red card on 86 minutes.

The Colombians rallied near the end and were victim of some poor officiating and penalty decisions. This prompted the “Cafeteros” to surround the referee at full time but they had little right of protest after a fairly, insipid display.

After last week’s humbling in Buenos Aires Ecuador needed to get their qualification campaign on track with a victory against Colombia. Lionel Messi had replicated his Barcelona form in the Monumental and ripped apart an Ecuadorian inexperienced defence at will.

The blame for this was left squarely at the feet of Ecuador’s, Columbian coach Reinalda Rueda. To many his tactics and inexperienced line-up choice was overly cavalier and baffling. Perhaps mindful of this Rueda opted to bring in Juan Carlos Paredes and Fricson Erazo to bolster the defence and Segundo Castillo and Jefferson Montero into midfield.

Much of the pre-match hype had concentrated on Falcoa, who had been linked to Chelsea and Barcelona in preceding weeks. The Atletico Madrid hit man had just had another free-scoring season in La Liga and the Europa Cup and his link up with Dorlan Pabon was felt to be a potent threat.

Unfortunately, they were as impressive and as explosive as a dead fish and the many Colombian supporters in the Atahualpa were left frustrated and bitterly, disappointed.

Ecuador controlled the midfield through the first half and many of their chances were created down the left wing and good link up play between Montero and Noboa. Unfortunately their last ball was often terrible. In addition Benitez looked slow and cumbersome in attack, often opting for long range efforts that smashed into the defence or skied high and wide.

The home crowd became audibly more animated every time Antonio Valencia received the ball but the Manchester United winger was unable to have a telling impact in the first half. Although he linked well with the marauding Paredes of Deportivo Quito, in the main he was well marked and covered. At times Ecuador seemed to concentrate their attacks on the right too much when the left was more successful.

Ecuador finally broke the deadlock just after half time. Walter Ayovi swung in a high ball that was deflected directly into the path of Benitez, who headed in from 5 yards to claim his 22nd goal for Ecuador. Boosted by his goal, Benitez became more animated  from then on and was unlucky to double his teams lead 10 minutes later. From fully 40 yards his fierce shot cannoned off the crossbar then to safety.

Benitez heads in the winning goal

From then on the game became scrappy and ill-tempered with both teams committing needless fouls. When Noboa scythed down Falcoa 86 minutes he had to walk setting into a motion a hectic last 10 minutes for the home side. In the end Ecuador held on for a valuable 3 points.

Ecuador has an awkward looking team and reminds me of one of the African teams of 1994 or 1998 World Cups. This is not because the majority of the players are of Afro-American decent but more because they a strong and athletic side which has plenty of speed although maybe at the expense of ball control and attacking ingenuity. On paper they cannot match other teams in terms of individual ability. They do not have a Messi  or Neymar to create chances and harness the creative impetuous of a game so depend on their pace and strength.

Valencia is their star and a fine player but not a game changer. He is capable of scoring goals but his influence is limited by his far right position for Ecuador.

On Sunday’s evidence Ecuador will find it hard to match the likes of Uruguay and Argentina away fromQuito. If they are going to claim an automatic qualification spot they must score more goals and record points away from the Atahaulpa.


                                P              W               D            L                F           A       GD            Pts
  Chile                    6                4              0              2              11        10           1              12
  Uruguay               5              3              2              0              14           6           8              11
  Argentina            5              3              1              1              11           4            7              10
  Ecuador               5              3              0              2              6              6           0              9
  Venezuela          6              2              2              2              4              6              -2            8
 Colombia             5              2              1              2              5              5              0              7
 Bolivia                 6                1              1              4              7              11           -4            4
  Paraguay             5              1              1              3              4              9              -5            4
    Peru                    5                1              0              4              6              11          -5             3

With 9 points from 5 games and in 4rth position Ecuador have made a solid start to their campaign but the real effort will lie in their travels. They have 11 matches left to play and 6 of these are away from home. The Ecuadorians will have to create a Plan B if they are to progress to Brazil. If they lose Valencia or the opposition catch on to their reliance on the Manchester United player then Ecuador will be severely limited. Colombia can ill afford to lose many more points.




Ecuador’s remaining World Cup Qualification fixtures (home ties in yellow)


7 September 2012

Ecuador                v              Bolivia

11 September 2012

Uruguay               v             Ecuador

12 October 2012

Ecuador                v             Chile

 16 October 2012

Venezuela          v             Ecuador

26 March 2013

Ecuador                v             Paraguay

 7 June 2013

Peru      v              Ecuador

11 June 2013

Ecuador                v              Argentina

6 September 2013

Colombia            v              Ecuador

10 September 2013

Bolivia v              Ecuador

11 October 2013

Ecuador                v              Uruguay 

15 October 2013

Chile     v              Ecuador

The conundrum that is Giovanni Dos Santos

Yesterday, in a friendly game against Brazil Giovanni Dos Santos once again showed why he can be such a mercurial and frustrating footballer. The 23 year old Mexican collected the ball far on the left wing and from a near impossible angle floated the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net. Whether it was a moment of inspired genius or a miss-hit cross is debatable but what is not in doubt is the potential skill and ability of this baby faced, midfield dynamo.

Similarly, in last year’s Gold Cup final against the USA, Dos Santos provided a moment of magic when he dribbled past a scrambling Tim Howard then chipped a perfect shot over a gang of defenders and into the goal.

These are two of many acts of genius that Mexicans hold dear and it is why the followers of “El Tri” treasure “Gio “so much. The problem for supporters of Tottenham is why he doesn’t show this form for them.

 Guardado,Dos Santos and Chicharito for Mexico

Since signing from Barcelona in 2008 Dos Santos has mustered a paltry 17 appearances for Spurs with the majority of games being in the Carling Cup or Europe League. His time at White Hart Lane has been extremely disappointing and has led to him being farmed to Ipswich Town, Galatasaray and Racing de Santander.

It is clear that Harry Redknapp rates the Mexican but his patience seems to have finally worn out. As far back as 2010 he said;

‘If he [Dos Santos] could pass a nightclub as well as he can pass a ball, he would be all right.’

Unfortunately Dos Santos has not heeded the warnings and now seems destined for an exit from White Hart Lane.

Baby faced Giovanni was born into a footballing family. His Brazilian father played for Mexican League teams in the 80’s and his brothers Eder and Jonathon play for Club America and Barcelona respectively.

Dos Santos burst onto the international scene during the under 17 World Championships where his displays earned him the Adidas Silver ball, second behind Manchester United’s Anderson. Barcelona were quick to recognize his potential and he was drafted into their famed youth squads.

Again in the under 20 World Cup in Canada his performances were enthralling, quickly becoming Mexico’s key man and although his team were eliminated in the quarter finals by Argentina he was awarded with the Adidas Bronze ball.

Football journalists and pundits were gushing with the praise, and he was heralded as the next Maradonna( or maybe Hugo Sanchez), it seemed like the world was at his feet.

Maybe guilty of impatience at Barcelona he then unwisely opted to move on to Tottenham and while his chances may were thwarted by messrs Messi, Iniesta and Xavi at the Nou Camp, Modric, Krankjar and Lennon were often before him on match days at White Hart Lane.

 The lesser spotted Dos Santos for Spurs

But while his club form has stalled in England for Mexico Dos Santos has become a pivotal figure and his performances often have a bearing on Mexico’s final result.

His displays for Mexico have earned him a runner-up award for the FIFA Young Player of the Tournament award at the 2010 World Cup and player of the tournament at 2009 Gold Cup. He inspired Mexico to Gold Cup successes in 2009 and 2011 and his afore mentioned goal against the USA was voted best of the tournament.

Playing behind the main strikers he often creates opportunities for his team-mates with incisive runs and close ball control. When given an opportunity to score he is composed usually electing to round the keeper and slot into the gaping goal. He reminds me of Gianfranco Zola although not as physically strong, this may be why he is struggling in the rumble tumble of the premiership.

Regardless of where he plays his club football Dos Santos will be a main stay in the Mexican team and as a result future World Cups.

Recently he was linked to Swansea and Brendan Rogers but it remains to be seen if the Liverpool coach continues his interest with his new club.

Messi rules in the Monumental.


It’s a common held belief in Buenos Aires that Lionel Messi is more Catalan than Argentine and he doesn’t play with the belief and passion for the Albiceleste as he does  Barcelona. Last night’s game should do much to dispel that particular myth.

Ecuador were put to the sword by an imperious man of the match performance by Messi. The best player in the World finally replicated his club form and produced an inspirational display, captaining his country to a 4-0 demolition of a disappointing Ecuador.

He had a hand in all 4 goals and delighted the Monumental crowd with his trademark, mazy runs and neat inter-linking passes. In the end 4 could have easily been 6 or 7.


Unsurprisingly, Argentina started the brighter and were invited by Ecuador to break down their deep lying defence. Patience in their build up was rewarded just before 20 minutes when Di Maria linked well with Messi then weighted a sweet, left-footed chip to Sergio Aguero. The replay showed the Man City hit man to be in an offside position but Jairo Campos was hesitant and let Aguero slide the ball past the goalkeeper and take the lead.From then on Messi really started to turn the screw. The Argentinean playmaker has to the ability to weave and glide past the opposition making them look desultory and sluggish, when he received the ball in midfield on 29 minutes he did just that despite the attention of 3 markers.  The Argentinean squeezed through two midfielders then threaded a ball through to Gonzalo Higuain who again slid the ball past an outstretched Dominguez.


The 3rd was not long in coming after. Ecuador were robbed of position on the edge Argentina’s box and Messi turned defence into attack quickly with a 30 yard run through the centre. His lay-off to Higuain was returned to him in the box and he then dispatched the ball high into the Ecuadorian goal.

Ecuador tried to respond with substitutions (Ayovi for Saritama and Montero for Suarez) before half-time but the damage had been done and the game was over as a contest.

In the 2nd half Argentina were content to let the Ecuadorians attack and catch them on the counter. To be fair Ecuador looked more threatening in the 2nd half but over and over again they were hustled off the ball or deprived of possession to easily. Desperate to get a toe hold in the match their players were trying to do too much individually instead of passing. When scoring opportunities were created Benitez and Suarez were disappointing and Sergio Romero was left largely untroubled.

On 75 minutes Di Maria rounded up the scoring with a low drive from the edge of the box. Messi hadagain rounded a few players but his final shot was blocked by Jairo Campos. Jose Sosa rescued the ball from going out then passed cross goal to an oncoming Di Maria who grabbed Argentina’s deserved fourth goal.

The win drops Ecuador to 5th place behind Venezuela,who claimed an impressive 1-1 away draw to Uruguay while in turn Argentina move to the top of the table with 10 points ahead of Chile, who won 2-0 in Bolivia, and Uruguay.


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