Argentina Weekend Review: Boca Juniors Routed in Embarrassing Opener
Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors entered Sunday as hot favorites to win the Argentina Clausura after making several important offseason signings and finishing unbeaten during the summer tournaments.
With new coach Julio Cesar Falcioni making his bow, Boca was rocked 4-1 by Godoy Cruz. Boca fans became irate, whistling and booing the team as it exited the field.
Falcioni is a coach normally known for his defensive ideology, but in his first official match at Boca, the ex-Banfield boss deployed an attacking formation with playmakers Juan Roman Riquelme and Walter Erviti lining up together for the first time.
With the edition of Erviti and Riquelme, the midfield lacked the defensive cover Boca used to such proficiency during the summer; fullbacks Clemente Rodriguez and Jose Maria Calvo were completely exposed as they tried to play up the pitch and join the attack.
Despite all the tactical errors made by Falcioni, the worst aspect of the match came from goalkeeper Javier Garcia, who flopped at an early cross which left Ruben Ramirez with an open header to open the scoring.
From then on, Boca pushed forward, and Godoy Cruz took advantage of the space behind the fullbacks and went on to take a 3-0 halftime advantage, with Clemente Rodriguez particularly at fault.
Erviti pulled one back for Boca after the break, but Carlos Sancez restored the three-goal advantage in stoppage time when he smashed a right-footed shot past Garcia at his near post.
Elsewhere, favorites and defending champions Estudiantes de La Plata beat Newell's Old Boys 2-1 with winger Enzo Perez playing the starring role.
After just 13 minutes, the Argentina International made a slaloming run from deep before laying a perfect through ball for Gaston Fernandez to beat Sebastian Peratta from close range.
Ten minutes later, Perez exchanged passes with captain Juan Sebastian Veron before playing a beautifully chipped ball over the top for Gabriel Mercado to run onto and chip Peatta with ease.
Just before the break, Perez won a penalty after being pulled back by ex-Argentina international Rolando Schiavi. However, Fernandez's weak spot kick was saved by Peratta.
In a thrilling match Friday night, Apertura runner-up Velez came back from a 2-0 deficit to draw with Independiente.
Two-set piece goals from Facundo Parra and Roberto Battion had fans of "El Rojo" in dreamland, but after the break, Maxi Moralez brought his team back with a fine finish after beating the offside trap.
Ten minutes from time, Argentina international Juan Manuel Martinez (who won the penalty in Argentina's 2-1 win over Portugal in midweek) smashed a loose ball in the area into the back of the net to snatch a point for Velez.
Tournament darkhorse Racing also got off to a great start by picking up a valuable three points in Floresta against All Boys.
With star man Giovanni Moreno, tired after playing for Colombia against Spain midweek, far from his best, it was diminutive striker Gabriel Hauche who scored a fine goal after evading two defenders in the area and smacking a low shot off the far post and into the net past goalkeeper Nicolas Cambiasso—the brother of Inter midfielder Esteban.
In the late game Sunday night, River Plate was held by Tigre in a scrappy match where neither team could break the scoreless deadlock.
River had the majority of good chances with Paulo Ferrari, Mariano Pavone, Leandro Caruso and Manuel Lanzini all squandering good chances.
Tigre, however, did have a few good chances, but River's 20-year-old goalkeeper Leandro Chichizola pulled off two brilliant saves, first from a powerful shot from ex-Spain international Mariano Pernia and then in a one-on-one situation from Fernando Telechea in the dying minutes.
All-in-all, it was another thrilling weekend in Argentine football, where the results are impossible to predict, and the passion of fans and players alike makes each match a brilliant spectacle.
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