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
Damian Diaz hits a fine shot for Barcelona in the Copa Libertadores.
But extra plaudits must go to the designer of Barcelona’s new kit who managed to fit at least 5,000 advertisements onto one shirt.
The continent has produced some of the most skillful players of our time yet it is only recently that they have succeeded in the English top division.
In previous decades players like Ricky Villa and Ossie Ardiles were a rarity while others such as Austin Delgado were cult, fan favourites rather than roaring success stories.
The first South American to really set the heather alight was Juninho in 1995 who swapped Sao Paulo for the north of England and Middlesborough. At the time Bryan Robson was creating a mini-revolution and recruited Juninho along with countryman Emerson and the Italian striker Ravenelli.
Although the experiment was ultimately a failure leading to Borough’s relegation Juninho was a shining light. His marauding runs and intricate skill reminded of Peter Beardsley in his pomp.
Since then the fortunes of South America have been mixed. With as many impressing as fading into the shadows.
At present the South American footballers are excelling like never before and more and more clubs and managers are putting their faith them.
Current top 11 South Americans in England:
Despite being roundly criticized in his first few games (anything to do with replacing England’s Robert Green?) Julio Cesar has gone on to become arguably the best goal keeper in the division. After Inter Milan many thought his career was dwindling into obscurity but his transfer to QPR is looking like a success. So much so that he has been re-called to the Brazilian national team and attracting attention form bigger EPL teams.
At left back I have Ecuador’s Antonio Valencia. Last year Valencia was named Man United’s player of the year and inherited the historical No.7 jersey. He is a versatile and useful player down the left hand side popping up with the odd goal but creating more for his team-mates for club and country.
On the right hand side I have Argentinean, Pablo Zabaleta who plays for Man City in England. Zabaleta is a main stay for Man City and was an instrumental figure in City’s title win last year garnering much praise for his committed attitude and lung bursting runs down the wing.
In the centre of defence I have opted for David Luiz and Fabio Colloccini. Both players are prone to the odd mistake, especially when to they try and out smart midfielders and end up fooling themselves. However, both are adept defenders and would compliment each with Luiz being more attacking minded and a link to midfield.
Lucas has only recently returned to Liverpool’s midfield but already his influence is telling. Despite not having the attacking instincts of other Brazilians he is an excellent central-defensive midfielder.
On the left wing I have chosen Jonas Gutierrez of Newcastle and Argentina. A firm fans favourite at St James since arriving in 2008 the silky winger has racked up near to 200 appearances in 4 years creating bucket loads of chances for his attackers.
In the middle is Ramires of Chelsea and Brazil. The tough tackling little midfielder is comfortable as defensive cover or in attack. He is known for his acceleration, dribbling and ability to open up the tightest of defences.
Since is record move to Southampton Ramirez has impressed all in difficult circumstances. He could play as a second striker but seems better as a right hand sided midfielder. I would not be surprised if the Uruguayan was pinched by a bigger team at this seasons end.
Although not the tallest nor biggest both Kun Arguero and Luis Suarez would be a match for any defence. What they lack in height they more than make up for in speed, guile and tenacity. The English press have been fairly unfair to Uruguayan, Suarez since his move from Ajax to Anfield. Although his comments to Evra were unsavoury the assorted hacks have been quick to pounce on any little mistake or error while absolving their own of same indiscretions. He is an amazing player with the ball at his feet and starting to match his Ajax goal form
Arguero wrote his name into history with his last day, last second title clinching goal. The little Uruguayan has been a revelation in the EPL and a integral cog in the Sky Blues machine. His goals are often acrobatic, impressive and vital.
Despite slipping up against Manta on Wednesday, Barcelona still have the Championship in the grasp and need only win against Olmedo tomorrow.
However with city rivals Emelec only 5 points behind and a game in hand Barcelona can ill afford another slip-up.
At the bottom of the table El Nacional are lying precariously near to relegation. The final league standings will be calculated over two Etapes so a win against Liga De Loja is essential
In the Segunda Division, Aucas should ensure promotion to the Serie B on Sunday in front of a capacity crowd in Chillagallo
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
True to form Sixto Vizuete was given the heave-ho today after barely 6 months in charge of El Nacional.
To be fair he can have little complaint as his team have been consistently awful under his charge and are in serious threat of being one of the two teams relegated from the Serie A.
El Nacional is the army team of Ecuador and similar Athletic Bilboa and Chivas Guadalajara they only pick players from their respective countries/states. Obviously the suits upstairs have panicked after the latest defeat and opted to bring a fresh face.
They have pinched Gustavo Luis Soler from Deportivo Quito, an Argentinian with a solid playing career in Spain and Argentina behind him and a slew of coaching positions around South America.
His task will be to keep El Nacional in the top division and avoid disastrous relegation/
Every time I make a visit to the Atahaulpa Stadium I can’t help but make comparisons with back home. My usual judgement is that Ecuadorians have it so much better than in Scotland or the UK.
There is no doubt that British stadiums are safer but there over-sterilisation and sanitisation has ruined many aspects of the modern game. Many stadiums are glorified cow-sheds, little more than four banks of seats into which fans are herded like sheep.
No more apparent than this is Hampden Park where the famous Hampden roar has been replaced by the Hampden moan or muffled groan.
Hampden Park got a £20 millon re-fit a number of years ago. The end result was: a dissipation of the noise, an athletics track separating the fans from the pitch by at least 10 metres, 70,000 fans became 50,000 and a severely diluted atmosphere.
The Atahaulpa has not been touched for 50 years and the atmosphere is electric. The capacity has been reduced to 35,000 recently and you have the athletics track but it doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
On Friday my Dutch friend and I made our way through the fans, police and many touts. After a couple of aborted entries we finally managed to reach the general area of our seats but not before buying beers at the back of the stadium. As the game was already 5 minutes old and we didn’t want to annoy the other patrons in that dreadful cinema like shuffle through the crowds we stayed-put, aside the beer stand.
Everyone in the back row of seats (which is really a long, concrete block) were standing for a better vantage point. Behind them was a line of Police, some with dogs, all with batons and behind the Police I stood with my friend.Both of us a good foot taller than the rest.
In the two hours we stood there sipping our beers not one Policeman or woman asked us to move, sit down or find our seats. We were causing no problem nor blocking access, simply watching the game so the authorities left us alone. (The only hairy moment was when one of the Police Alsatians started to attack an imaginary assailant. Many wide eyed fans turned and looked on fearing that it could cause some dreadful chain reaction of biting hounds.In the end the mutt was shepherded away to safety).
And therein lies the biggest difference between the match experience in Latin America and the United Kingdom.
In Scotland you are constantly harassed by over-blown security guards and zealous quasi-authorities either wanting you to sit-down, pipe down or calm down. Some luminous jacketed dolt, who was too fat to become a real policeman or too dim to secure a respected job has to use his/her two hours of authority to dampen your match day experience.
And its only the proper fan who rises to remonstrate at the referee or roar his football song that gets reprimanded. If a burly troglodyte is shouting abuse or sectarian or racist bile the security guards are nowhere to be seen. The cowards only admonish the normal fan, knowing fine they won’t receive a smack in the mouth or verbal tirade in response.
On Friday, the Chilean supporters were situated right beside us, numbering about 2-3000 and they regularly intermingled on their way to the toilet or to get some food or more beer. There was no cordon of yellow nor line of Police, even when Chile took the lead there was little more than muffled insults and derogatory, hand signals.
In the end Ecuador won 3 – 1 to bolster their qualification chances for Brazil 2014. As the Ecuadorian fans shuffled out of the stadium many insults were traded with the glum looking Chileans. The usual cries of “chuta- madre” and “hijo de la chingada” were exchanged along with self-explanatory gestures that even a nun would understand.
In Scotland you would be probably hauled off to the Chateau D’If for such “anti-social” behaviour.
Ecuadorian football may have many flaws but I’d have their match-days, any day compared to the over-priced and over- bearing experience of home. Football in Ecuador maybe like football in Scotland 30 years ago.
Not such a bad thing considering where we are as a football nation now.
With Lionel Messi and Gonzolo Higuain with 6 goals a piece it’s easy to see why Argentina are top of the CONMEBOL qualification table.
Although Luis Suarez is notoriously profligate for Liverpool for his national team he is on fire.
While Falcao rattles them in for club and country alike is price tag rises and rises. A buy out clause of £54 million looks like a bargain in contrast to Fernando Torres.
Of all the players on the list Felilpe Caicedo, once of Manchester City is the man with the top form. His return to Ecuador’s first team has been integral to their rise up the table with 4 goals in 3 matches.
|1.||G. Higuain (Argentina)||6|
|2.||L. Messi (Argentina)||6|
|3.||L. Suarez (Uruguay)||6|
|4.||Falcao García R. (Colombia)||5|
|5.||F. Caicedo (Ecuador)||4|
|6.||S. Agüero (Argentina)||3|
|7.||Benitez C. (Ecuador)||3|
|8.||Farfán J. (Peru)||3|
|9.||M. Fernández (Chile)||3|
|10.||P. Guerrero (Peru)||3|
On Saturday I was afforded the rare chance to take in two Serie A games in one afternoon, in the same stadium.
Although it was an early start: 10.45, AFNA (the state football authority) offered both matches for $10 or around £6.20. An amazing price considering you can’t even get a pie and a couple of cokes for £6.20 in the majority of the stadiums back home.
In the SPL you pay around £20-24 for a match day ticket and the standard of football is way below the Ecuadorian Serie A.
The IFFHS (International Federation of Football History and Statistics) recently rated Ecuador’s Serie A at 14th in world, while Scotland’s top tier at 25th. So it seems the Scottish supporters are paying 5 times the price for an inferior product.
In my opinion, Ecuador’s professional players have far more technique and skill than their Scottish counterparts as a result the entertainment is more pleasing to the eye.
Of course the safety standards of Scottish and English stadiums are far better but this still doesn’t account for such a huge difference in price. And remember Ecuador’s currency is the American dollar and the cost of living is not hugely different to the UK.
Plainly speaking we are ripped off in Scotland.