The FIFA rankings are notoriously confusing and sometimes spurious however what they show is current form in the World game. Croatia have moved into 5th position and although impressive in UEFA qualification Group B can hardly be merited as the 5th best team in the World. Similarly a faltering Portugal do not deserve their 6th position (they currently lie 3rd in Group F behind Russia and Israel.
The top ten is made up of the usual faces with England even placed at 7th despite trailing Montenegro in Group H. Ecuador have been boosted into 10th position but this probably a fair reflection given the Andean nations recent form.
Brazil have plummeted to their worst ever ranking at 19th suffering from their lack of telling international games in the run up to their hosting of the World Cup in 2014.
Scotland (deep breath) continue their decent into oblivion and lie in 77th position between Congo and Canda. This doesn’t deserve a comment.
Holger Matamoros lashes home a 40 yard screamer against Universidad Catolica.
The current champs from Guayaquil have made am erratic start to this year’s campaign but kept up their winning streak against newly promoted Catotlica
Ecuador 4 Paraguay 1
Ecuador took a huge step towards qualification with a comfortable win over Paraguay. The win puts “La Tri” on 20 points thanks mainly to their home form in the Atahaulpa stadium.
Ecuador started with a full strength team that included Antonio Valencia, Cristain Benitez, Jefferson Montero and Filipe Caicedo. The only change from the usual 11 was the dropping of Luis Saritama for Pedro Quinonez. With a crammed home crowd behind them, Ecuador must have felt full of confidence but they didn’t reflect this on the pitch, early on.
Paraguay took the lead in the 15th minute through Luis Cabellero who shot low past Dominguez to silence the partisan hoards. It was a well taken goal but the defenders should have cleared the ball instead of dallying in the box.
The goal stung the Ecuadorians into action and they attacked Bolivia mercilessly, mainly down the flanks through the tricky Montero and Quinonez. Achilier saw his header hit the crossbar in the 24th minute then Valencia volleyed home 5 minutes later, only for it to be chalked off by the linesman. It was clear Paraguay were not going to hold out.
The equaliser was as inevitable as the scorer. Felipe Caicedo was brought back into the fold by Reinaldo Rueda for this campaign and he has repaid his coach with 5 goals at vital moments during these qualifiers. Just before half time he bustled his way past the Paraguayan defence to head in an Ayovi close from close range.
Ecuador started the 2nd half in similar fashion destroying the Paraguayans with their pace and long, deep cross field balls. In the 50th minute Quinonez dropped a splendid pass onto the feet of the onrushing Montero. The Morelia midfielder slipped past the left back then drove the ball into the net to take the lead.
Four minutes later Montero again was tormentor in chief dribbling past two defenders, cutting back then crossing for “Chucho” Benitez to head home for the third. Paraguay were being over-run by wave after wave of yellow shirts with only the woodwork saving them.
With 15 minutes Montero exchanged a one-two with Saritama and set-off on another mazy like run, snaking through the red and white jerseys with ease. Upon reaching the goal area is shot wrong footed the helpless Baretto and the ball trickled into the goal. It was fortunate but he had made his own luck.
Another home win sets Ecuador in an excellent 2nd position behind Argentina. Their next games are against Peru, away then Messi & Co in Quito. The Argentinians are notoriously weak at altitude so two draws are not overly optimistic. With Montero is this type of form another home win could seal a summer in Brazil.
On Sunday it was back to the Atahaulpa Stadium to watch the current champions : Deportivo Quito against the champions elect: Barcelona.
Although i arrived with my friend at the stadium 15 mins before the game it took at least half an hour to get into the Atahaulpa. Long lines were snaked around the ground with the police doing their disorganised best to slowly, filter the throngs throw the narrow, turnstiles. One gate was for blue and red bedecked fans of Deportivo the others for the vast amount of yellow, Barcelona” hinchas”.
Only when Barcelona had scored and the many fans became restlessness did the police and authorities begin to shepherd the fans through at a acceptable rate.
Barcelona enjoy a huge support in both in Quito and Guayaquil and are probably only matched in popularity with Liga de Quito. Although the base of support is in Ecuador’s biggest city they can count on supporters from all over the country.
In much the same way Rangers and Celtic attract fans from all over Scotland, Barcelona and Liga gather the most fans from all over Ecuador.
In recent years the Quito teams have dominated league titles with Deportivo Quito, El Nacional and Liga sharing 9 titles between them. You have to go back to 1997 for Barcelona’s last title although city rivals Emelec did win the title in 2001 and 2002.
Upon entering the stadium it was clear that the Deportivo Quito fans or “chullas” were totally outnumbered by about 4-1. The yellow and black of Barcelona covered 70 % of the stadium and with their team already 1-0 up to a Nina header they were in fine voice.
Deportivo had only the main stand to fill and numbered around 6-7,000 but as their were some spare rows of seats the police began to funnel some yellow and black fans into the Deportivo end. This did not go down well with hardcore members at the front and they immediately rushed to confront to the opposition, forcing them back into the Barcelona section. A few bottles were thrown and insults traded but in truth it was little more than handbags from very, young looking “hooligans”. The riot police and their batons and Alsatians seemed to dampen their enthusiasm.
nI such an atmosphere it’s sometimes difficult to concentrate on the match, especially when you know Deportivo are so poor in front of goal and have little chance of scoring but the game ebbed and flowed with Barcelona seemingly content to let Deportivo attack.
Luckily, again we had the benefit of enthusiastic beer vendors and police were happy to let us stand at the back and peer over the crowd.
Much has been made in the Ecuadorian media about the country’s hooligan problem but in the 20-30 matches i have attended here in Quito I have yet to see some trouble bar the throwing of plastic bottles or the odd plastic beer cup. It’s certainly no where near the levels that the UK or Europe had but i guess it doesn’t take much for things to get out of hand. The police were very aware of the threat and quick to intervene.
The only kerfuffle in the terraces today happened in the Barcelona hoards in the south stand. A yellow shirted youth (my friend was convinced it was a girl but not I) was thrown around like a rag doll and unceremoniously booted and punched through throngs of people and out of the exit. It was unclear what he had done to deserve this treatment but it must have been bad as his own brethren turned on him. The police pounced on him and escorted him away.
In the end Barcelona won two nil, thanks to; some dreadful refereeing decisions, two Deportivo red cards, some dreadful Deportivo forward play and a wonderful free kick form Michael Arroyo in the 90th minute (who in turn was strangely red-carded).
The Barcelona fans were ecstatic at the end, knowing they had all but secured their first title in 15 years while the Deportivo Quito fans solemnly shuffled out of the Atahaulpa. A feeling they have known all to well in a disastrous season.
Barcelona all but sealed the Segunda Etape title (and overall championship) with a lucky win against Deportivo Quito yesterday.
They took the lead through a Narcisso Mina header in the 13th minute then seemed happy to sit back and let Deportivo control the game. However it quickly became clear that Deportivo were not going to score especially when they lost Paredes to a second yellow and Morales to a straight red in the second half.
Deportivo were finally punished for their profligacy in front of goal when Arroyo sealed the win with a fine 30 yard free kick in 90 minutes.
Elsewhere, Emelec confirmed their involvement in next years Copa Libertadores by winning 2-1 at home against El Nacional while Olmedo cemented their relegation to Segunda B after another home loss, this time to Deportivo Cuenca.
Independiente recorded a fine win against Liga de Quito. A Daniel Angulo strike in 57 minutes was enough to grab 3 points and continue their push for a Libertadores spot. The team from Sangloqui are universally recognised as the best youngsters in Ecuador and it remains to be seen how many of their players they can retain for next season, especially with their links to Spurs and the bigger Ecuadorian teams circling
The final places are calculated over the two “etapes” or stages and as Barcelona should win both their will not be a final play-off match this year.
With two teams to be relegated to the Segunda B El Nacional, Macara or Ted de Universitario may yet join Olmedo and drop down a division. This would be particularly disastrous who are an historic giant of Ecuadorian football with a record equaling 13 championships.
With two games left to play it should be a a tight end to the bottom of the Serie A.
|3.||Indepndiente del Valle||41||17||11||13||62||+4|
|4.||Liga de Quito||41||14||18||9||60||+11|
|6.||Liga de Loja||41||15||13||13||58||+4|
|11.||Tec de Universitario
With 2 teams to be relegated from Serie A, El Nacional’s home victory against Macara will do much to allay their supporters fears.
After last week’s Derby defeat they were hovering around the relegation spots and although these 3 points moves them 3 points away with a game in hand they are not out of the woods yet.
As the the final league standings are calculated over two mini-seasons Olmedo look certain to fall into Serie B despite having a fairly impressive 2nd term,Macara and Tecnico Universitario (who currently sit 2nd of this term) have a battle to see who joins them.
At the top of the table Barcelona continued their arch to the title after a 1-o win at home to Quito giants, Liga. José Manuel Ayovi grabbed the winner just before half-time.
Elsewhere Independiente compounded Emelec’s misery from last week with a 2 – 0 defeat while Deportivo Quito recorded a 0-0 stalemate in Ambato versus Tecnico Universitario.
|Deportivo Cuenca||1 – 1||Manta F.C.|
|Técnico Universitario||0 – 0||Deportivo Quito|
|Independiente del Valle||2 – 0||Emelec|
|El Nacional||2 – 1||Macará|
|Liga de Loja||2 – 1||Olmedo|
|Barcelona||1 – 0||Liga de Quito|
After watching Celtic’s historic defeat of Barcelona on TV the Quito derby was always going to be an anti-climax. The atmosphere in Celtic Park couldn’t have been more different from Ecuador’s national stadium.
The Deportivo Quito’s supporters outnumbered the Nacional” hinchas” by at least double but both of the hardcore members were making a suitable racket under their banners and flags.The match had been re-arranged from week 9 due to Deportivo’s participation in the Copa Sudamericana and the World Cup qualifiers. A 6 o’clock Wednesday start was never going to attract a big crowd, especially considering the from of both teams but as I took my seat in the “Palco” section (i was expecting the customary 6 o’clock downpour) I watched a few thousand began to file their way in.
As both teams play their home games in the Atahaulpa Stadium there was no real advantage for either team.
Alike many Latin American stadiums the players and coaching staff appear from below the pitch-side and move to their respective technical areas.
Coaches and managers in Ecuador change like the weather. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep apace, especially when 3-4 months seems to be the average managerial term and tonight’s men were no different.
Deportivo Quito’s coach is former Argentinian national player (5 caps), Ruben Insua who replaced Nelson Acosta in August. After a solid playing career in Argentina and Ecuador (Barcelona) Insua has taken coaching jobs around Latin America enjoying Serie A success with Barcelona and Deportivo and a Copa Sudamericana with San Lorenzo of Argentina.
El Nacional have former Ecuadorian national coach, Sixto Vizuete currently in charge. After an inauspicious playing career Vizuete rose to the national team job through the youth teams in more of an academic Jose Mourinho/ Gerard Houllier fashion.
Tonight Insua was decked out in a smart suit and long Italian style coat. Together with a long main of hair he looked like a cross between David Coverdale and Benedict Cumberbatch. Sixto however had a standard tracksuit and coach jacket combo, more in the style of Paul Lambert or Martin O’Neill.
The game started at a snail’s pace and didn’t let up for the whole 90 minutes. Quito largely controlled the match in the first half through Luis Saritama and Santiago Morales in midfield. Julio Bevacqua was at his mercurial best and attracting the ire of the Quito support after several fluffed chances while Paredes was as normal dynamic but his final ball was consistently poor.
El Nacional fared no better and seemed content to try long shots from far outside the area which usually sailed high into the stars. In 33rd minute Nacional conjured up the first good chance of the match when Dennis Quinonez crossed onto Flavio Caicedo’s head but goalkeeper, Bone did well to tip the ball round the post.
The game then got bogged down in midfield with petty fouls and pseudo-injuries slowing play down. In the 46th minute Bevacqua rose just outside the 6 year the like a salmon to head into the keepers hands. Needless to say his fans were neither impressed nor surprised.
As the match sneaked towards half-time Morales produced a wonderful piece of skill and set up the opening goal. On the left wing and under the attention of two defenders he back-heeled a through ball to the on-running Luis Congo who then smashed the ball past high into the net from the edge of the box. The fans cried “goallazo”and rightly so. It was a fine moment to round up a rotten first half.
El Nacional were out on the pitch 5 minutes before their Quito obviously with a bollocking from Sixto still in their ear and they began the half with greater intensity. The short length of the Atahaulpa pitch means goal keeper kicks stretch far into the opposition half and this can quickly converts defence into attack. A hefty Danny Cabezas boot did exactly this 5 minutes in laying on Pita who only blasted wide.
For the first 15 minutes Quito seemed happy to sit deep and invite Nacional onto them,( a dangerous ploy which has bitten them on the arse many times this season). At times their crowding of attackers and last ditch clearances were manic and tempted disaster but there was method in their madness as two of their counter attacks produced good chances where only the Nacional woodwork prevented a doubling of their lead.
Twice in 5 minutes Edmund Zura was through on goal with only with only the keeper to beat. Luckily Bone was quick off his line to narrow the angle and smother the fierce shots.
In injury time again Zura was put through but this time he chose to dive and claim a penalty. There was much confusion as the linesman waved for the penalty but the referee then overruled and waved away the protests of the Nacional players. In the end Quito ran out close but deserved winners.
The result little effects either of the teams position in the table, both have had dreadful seasons although relegation is not a real threat points are accumulated and totaled over two terms.
|4.||Liga de Quito||17||6||8||3||26||+3|
|9.||Independiente del Valle||16||5||4||7||19||-6|
|12.||Liga de Loja||17||3||5||9||14||-6|
It’s fair to say there will be a few sore heads in Guayaquil in the morning.
The latest round of the Clásico del Astillero (The Shipyard Derby) was historic for all the wrong reasons for Emelec as they were on the end of a 5 – 0 hiding in the Monumental Banco Pichincha .
Damian Diaz opened the scoring in 38 minutes which was followed by a double by Narciso Mina either side of half-time (his first was fortunate in the extreme). Michael Arroyo claimed a 4th from the penalty spot before Diaz bagged his double a wrapped up an emphatic and record defeat.
Emelec also had to finish the game with 9 men after they lost Marcos Mondaini mid -way through the first half and Javier Nasutti half-way through the second: both of which were horrendous tackles and merited exclusion.
The first red card changed the game completely as Emelec had started the brighter but after going down 2 – 0 before half-time there was no way back.
The result sees Barcelona retake 1st position in Serie A while Emelec tumble down to 5th.
The topic of racism is dominating English football just now. It has rumbled on since Luis Suarez’s altercation with Patrice Evra two seasons ago and last week came to a head with Rio Ferdinand’s refusal to wear a “Kick it Out Campaign” t-shirt.
Ferdinand obviously feels aggrieved with the 4 match ban that former England captain, John Terry received last week :after he used abusive language towards Rio’s brother, Anton in a game between QPR and Chelsea last year.
It’s hard to accept why the FA decided an 8 game was enough for Suarez while only 4 game ban for Terry.
On the face of it Terry was more culpable and he could hardly defend himself with “cultural differences”. His defence that he was only repeating what Anton Ferdinand has said seems pretty weak.
In South America they have a somewhat different view of race and abuse. Football players and people in general are regularly referred to as “negro” or “negrito” in reference to their darker skin and in Ecuador the people from the coast (who are generally Afro-Ecuadorian) are popularly called “Monos” or monkeys.
Similarly, if an Afro-Ecuadorian scores a goal in a league match here then the next days headlines will refer to “negrito” as the hero.
Personally, I find it strange that a person should refer directly to a persons skin colour or race. It’s open to debate to whether it is in a derogatory manner but regardless I,m fairly certain no person would want to be referred to as a monkey.
Maybe the South Americans are decades behind in their race-relation or maybe they are more relaxed than politically correct obsessed Europeans??