Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Argentina: Trezeguet signs three year deal at River Plate

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 13, 2012
David Trezeguet

David Trezeguet (front) in training for new club River Plate

Argentinian giants River Plate, who are currently playing in their country’s second division following last season’s shock relegation, have showed their ambition to get back into the top flight by signing former France international David Trezeguet.

Trezeguet, who won a FIFA World Cup and who scored the winning “Golden Goal” for the French national team in the 2000 UEFA European Championship final against Italy, had only recently been playing in the United Arab Emirates but had decided not to continue at his club Bani Yas Sports Club following some injury problems. Now Trezeguet, who is of mixed French/Argentinian descent, will now go back to play in the land of his birth some seventeen years after he made his debut with CA Platense. As well as international success, he has also won league titles in France with AS Monaco and in Italy with Juventus.

Trezeguet signed a three year deal with River and there will be huge expectations amongst his club’s fanatical supporters for him to score the goals which will get Los Millionarios back into the top flight.

Argentina: Reality bites as River Plate drop into second tier (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on June 27, 2011
River Plate

River Plate will be playing in the second tier "Nacional B" next season

So the unthinkable has happened in Argentina as record champions River Plate, who have won the domestic league on 33 occasions, finally face up to the grim reality of second division football next season. This is because River was forced to meet Belgrano de Cordoba in a two match promotion/relegation play-off, which they lost 3-1 on aggregate, having ended the 2010-11 season with the fourth worst average points record over the last three seasons.

The beginning of River’s malaise can be traced back to the 2008-09 Torneo Apertura in which los Millonarios finished rock bottom of the twenty team championship, chalking up just two wins from 19 games while their arch-rivals Boca Juniors were celebrating the title. At that moment River were far from worried about relegation as their average at the time was comfortable having won the 2008 Clausura title as well as having enjoyed a couple of top four finishes in the previous three seasons.

Since then however the only consistency that River have ‘enjoyed’ has been their inconsistency. As well as that 20th place finish in the 2008-09 Apertura River have struggled to finish highly in the table, despite having had some quality in the side such as Radamel Falcao, Nelson Rivas and Alexis Sanchez (albeit on loan). Over the last six championships their end of tournament positions were:

 2008-09 Apertura: 20th

2008-09 Clausura: 8th

2009-10 Apertura: 14th

2009-10 Clausura: 13th

2010-11 Apertura: 4th

2010-11 Clausura: 9th

Over the last three seasons there has been much upheaval at River Plate. Just like most other clubs in the league River are in heavy debt and have to sell their best players virtually every season in a bid to balance the books. Also it is a cruel twist of fate for club president Daniel Passarella, a legend at El Monumental having previously served River as a player and coach, that the club’s demise should’ve come under his watch. He was narrowly elected as club president in December 2009 and has witnessed the club’s plight worsen to such a sorry state in his 18 months in charge.


The irony about River’s demotion is that the averages system currently used to decide relegation was designed to help big clubs survive on the back of having one bad season. Had a more conventional round-robin system been in use and the results of the 2010-11 Apertura and Clausura championships were added together, River would’ve finished in a much more respectable 6th place this season. If the same method applied in the previous two seasons River would still have survived as they would’ve finished in 15th place in both 2008-09 and 2009-10. Some cynics might suggest that when River Plate are back in la Primera then the administrators might change the rules accordingly.

Whatever happens River’s proud record of having never been relegated has now gone with only arch-rivals Boca Juniors and Independiente of Avellaneda maintaining such a fine record. Instead of playing against those particular giants next season, River will now have to get used to facing off against the likes of Boca Unidos and Independiente Rivadavia in the “Nacional B” division next season.


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Argentina: River Plate to play-off against relegation (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on June 19, 2011

So it has come down to this for Argentina’s most successful club at domestic level. River Plate, who have amassed 33 domestic championships in their illustrious history, will have to play two matches against second division Club Atlético Belgrano in order to avoid slipping outside Argentina’s top-flight for the first time in their history.

It has been well documented that River Plate, just like many clubs within the Argentinian football league, have suffered an assortment of difficulties both on and off the pitch in recent years but the club’s current plight is perhaps the lowest they’ve been since their foundation in 1901. Although River Plate finished in the top half of the table during the 2010-11 Torneo Clausura, which finishes this weekend, it is for their performances over the last three seasons which has seen them fall into trouble. Argentina’s first division sees an average points spread over the last six championships (three full seasons) determine who goes down at the end of each season. Even River’s great rivals Boca Juniors have had to flirt with the idea over the last couple of seasons as their performances have also been way below their high standards but they always just avoided being sucked into the mire.

The sad thing for River is that they had their destiny in their own hands going into Saturday’s final league game at home to CA Lanús. A win would’ve seen Los Millionarios avoid the relegation play-off scrap altogether but their 2-1 defeat, coupled with Club Olimpo’s 1-0 win over already relegated Quilmes, saw Olimpo scrape above River by 0.141 points thus ensuring their survival. The trauma for River was made worse by the fact that Lanús scored the winning goal three minutes into stoppage time which allowed the home supporters to vent their frustration as the demoralised players left the field.

River and Gimnasia de La Plata will be involved in play-offs whilst Quilmes and Huracán have been relegated automatically.


Argentina: Maidana wins it for River; League Review (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on November 17, 2010

Jonathan Maidana’s crucial header in the 53rd minute of the match won the latest Superclásico for River Plate against arch-rivals Boca Juniors on Tuesday. The win helped River Plate out of a bad recent spell and took los Millionarios up to eighth place in the latest Apertura standings. However the main excitement in the championship does not concern the Big Two as they are both well off the pace in the title race. With five rounds of matches to go in the first championship of the season Vélez Sársfield and Estudiantes de La Plata share the lead with thirty points each from 14 games, five points ahead of nearest challengers Arsenal de Sarandi.

Both Vélez Sársfield and Estudiantes have experienced championship success in recent years. Vélez won the 2009 Clausura title following a last-day showdown with their title rivals Huracán in which the latter gained much sympathy from neutral supporters following the way they lost the title in controversial circumstances. Estudiantes last won the Apertura in 2006 when, having finished on equal points with Boca Juniors, won a title play-off 2-1. They came close to winning the Clausura in 2010 but could only finish runners-up to eventual winners Argentinos Juniors by a single point. Now both teams have ambitions of lifting more silverware and consolidating their recent success making the most of the current situation in which River and Boca have been conspicuous by their absence in relation to the championship chase. On Matchday 14 Vélez won their fixture at home to CA Lanús by a single goal to nil thanks to Ricardo Alvarez’s 59th minute strike whilst Estudiantes slipped up losing 2-1 to CA Tigre. With five matches to go it is clear to see that there are still some potential twists to come in the championship race.

Despite the absence of the traditional two biggest clubs from the title race the Superclásico still retains its billing as the most anticipated fixture in the domestic game. River Plate hadn’t won any of these games for three years before last night but they finally chalked up a win over their eternal rivals after Jonathan Maidana’s perfectly timed header early in the second half was all that could separate the teams.


LDU Quito in a Liga of their own

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 3, 2009
Copa Sudamericana Logo

The Copa Sudamericana is South America's version of the UEFA Europa League

Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito, better known as LDU Quito, have won the 2009 Copa Nissan Sudamericana after what became an angst-ridden 5-4 aggregate victory in a two-legged final against Brazilian giants Fluminense. This is the third continental success for the Ecuadorians after winning the 2008 Copa Libertadores (South American Champions League), again beating Fluminense, and the 2009 Recopa (a South American version of the European Super Cup) in which they defeated another Brazilian team Internacional of Porto Alegre 4-0 over two legs. It has been a meteoric rise for the club who have steadily built a good footballing side and have become the dominant force in Ecuador. Their appearance in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup final against Manchester United made the football world take notice despite their narrow defeat to a lone Wayne Rooney strike.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for LDU this year. In the 2009 Copa Libertadores they came crashing back down to earth after the previous year’s joy of success. LDU finished bottom of their group behind Sport Recife, Palmeiras (both from Brazil) and Chilean representatives Colo Colo. Thankfully for LDU they finished second in the first stage of the Ecuador Serie A championship, thus qualifying for the Sudamericana, and from there they rediscovered their form in continental competition. After a first round 2-1 aggregate win against Libertad of Paraguay LDU then went on to beat Argentinians Lanus 5-1 (agg.) and Velez Sarsfield 3-2 (agg.) to set up a semi-final tie with Uruguay’s River Plate. A 7-0 drubbing of their opponents in the first leg meant that LDU could afford to take their foot off the gas in the second leg, which they lost 2-1. This set up a second major final with Fluminense who had overcome Paraguayans Cerro Porteno 3-1 (agg.) in their semi-final.

In the first leg of the final in Quito it was the Brazilians that struck early, Marquinho giving the visitors the lead after sixty seconds. After that though LDU dominated with Edison Mendez scoring a hat-trick before the hour mark and two late goals from Franklin Salas and Ulises de la Cruz securing a 5-1 lead to take to Rio de Janeiro. In the second leg the Ecudorians were on the defensive from early on as Dieguinho and Fred gave “Flu” a 2-0 lead at half-time. Any ideas that LDU may have had before the game of cruising this second leg were dashed even further eighteen minutes from the end when Gum made it 3-0 on the night to the Rio side. However despite the best efforts of Fluminense they couldn’t get the fourth goal necessary to take the match into extra-time (away goals not counting in this tournament) and the party could start once again in the Ecuadorian capital after LDU held out to win the final 5-4 on aggregate. LDU are now the envy of Ecuador having shown that they are in a league of their own for handling the big occasion. As a reward for this victory LDU will play Estudiantes de la Plata, the team that replaced them as Copa Libertadores champions in 2009, in the 2010 Recopa final.