South American round up and international preview

Nike-Brazil-CrestOn Sunday, Boca Juniors took on Velez Sarsfield in their first match post-Carlos Bianchi, the legendary manager who lead the incredible 2003 Boca side to continental and international glory.

His second stint with the club which began in 2013 wasn’t nearly as magical, and after a slow start that saw Boca lingering in the bottom half of the table, Bianchi was dismissed. Sometimes, it’s best not to go home.

Enter Rodolfo Arruabarrena. The 39 year-old Argentine made his professional playing debut with Boca, and now finds himself back where it all began.

His first match in charge could hardly have gone better. Boca achieved a massive 3-1 win at home against second-in-the-table Velez, and looked a side rejuvenated. Perhaps it was just the initial boost players get from a new face, maybe it was a fluke, or maybe it is a sign of better things to come. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, San Lorenzo seems incapable of shaking off their post-Libertadores hangover at the moment. The continental-champions lost their third game in four against current league-leaders and defending champions River Plate look the part of champions once again, dropping only two points in their first five matches.

River managed to hold on to their young Colombian defender Eder Balanta for the time being, after being linked with a move to Roma, Sampdoria and Galatasaray, and I was personally surprised not to see him move this window. The youngster will inevitably move to Europe, the only question now is when.

Over in Brazil, Cruzeiro maintained their eight point lead over Internacional after pummeling Chapecoense 4-2. Cruzeiro is arguably the best team in South America at the moment, with River Plate not too far behind.

The margins are extremely small in the Brasileiro, with only seven points separating Atletico Mineiro in eighth and Internacional in second.

It was surprising not to see Inter’s Charles Aranguiz make the jump to Europe after his World Cup performance (the penalty he took against Brazil seems enough to warrant one), but Valencia’s €14 million bid was rejected by Inter, who were waiting for an offer around €18 million.

In terms of the international break, here’s a few things to keep an eye on.

Chile. Under Jorge Sampaoli, you should be watching as many Chile games as you can. Always entertaining, always energetic, and almost always trying something new. Sampaoli has had several weeks to himself, which, considering the type of mind he has, probably means that he has gone over a hundred different combinations of players and formations, and been excessively watching tape of the World Cup and where they can improve.

Brazil vs Colombia. It will be interesting to see how Dunga approaches his second stint in charge of Brazil, especially considering that many see him as a continuation of the current negative pragmatism in the Brazilian game. Colombia, meanwhile, will be boosted by the fact that Jose Pekerman signed a contract extension that will keep him with Colombia through World Cup 2018, and one of his first orders of business is to get James Rodriguez back on form after a shaky start in Madrid.

This last one isn’t necessarily something you should watch, just something I felt I had to mention. Paraguay will be playing Club Nacional in Austria. In case you don’t know, Nacional is the Paraguayan club which lost to San Lorenzo in the finals of the Copa Libertadores. So the Paraguayan National Team will be playing a Paraguayan club team…in Austria. I’m not kidding. It’s hilariously ridiculous, and if you can, keep those who will be watching that game in your thoughts.

The Author

Ian Walker

Freelance writer for hire based in the US. South America, MLS, English Premier League

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