Friday, 9 March 2012

An update

The eagle-eyed among our readership - and thanks to both of you for sticking with us - will have noticed we've just about ground to a halt here.
This isn't down to any falling out with each other, the game, the blogging 'scene' or anything like that, more a change in circumstances that seriously limits our time available to do what we've been doing. As a result, we're winding this up - well not winding up so much, but certainly putting into the deep freeze for now. Months/years from now when we come to defrost it (not sure where this metaphor is going at this point, but stick with it) we may find it's still good to eat and pick it up again, but for now that's it.

We'll be keeping on with the twitter, so follow us there if you want to digest our little nuggets of thought, follow us on there. We'd also like to thank the good folk at Premier Sports TV for their support.
In the meantime, may we divert your attention to for all your futbol Sudamericana needs and also our sister site, Euroballs, where we may pop up on occasion in the not-too-distant future.

Thanks for your readership. See you about.

The CONMEBalls team

Friday, 24 February 2012

Ex-pat of the week #12

This week's noteworthy performances do not include Ever Banega, who is out for the season after breaking his tibia and fibula by running himself over with his own car.

Lionel Messi. You might not have heard of this lad, but he's got a bit of promise, underlined by a trifling four out of Barcelona's five against Valencia at the weekend. Special mention too for Pablo Piatti, whose early goal for Los Che seemed to anger La Pulga Atomica and spur him to these heights.
Denis Stracqualursi. Relatively unheralded on signing for Everton, it has taken a while for the ex-Gimnasia and Tigre striker to settle in England and his opportunity to start games has come about by injuries, transfers and, consequently, necessity. But he's making the most of his opportunity and helped send Everton through to a cup quarter-final a week after bagging one in a league win over Chelsea.
Ezequiel Lavezzi/Edinson Cavani. A joint nomination for the Napoli tyros. Brilliant against Fiorentina last Friday night and equally good against Chelsea in midweek. Six goals between them too, shared equally, and a general air of brilliance that surprised only people who hadn't been paying attention. And Ray Wilkins.
Marcelo Toscana. Bagged the solitary goal for Vitoria Guimaraes to inflict Benfica's first defeat of the season and open up the Portuguese championship once again.
Matias Fernández. The Chilean was fantastic as Sporting CP overcame Legia Warszawa in the Europa League. They were in the box seat after a 2-2 draw in Poland, but toughed it out at the Alvalade, Fernandez driving them forward from midfield and chiming in with a late winner.

And the winner is... Ezequinson Lavani. Or Ediqiuel Cavezzi. Whichever. Individually they were both quite fabulous, but together they formed a dynamic thrust - ooerr missus - that was simply unmatched. Fiorentina and Chelsea couldn't live with it. On this week's form, we doubt anyone else could either.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Ex-pat of the week #11

This week's round-up of the best of South America playing their trade away from the continent does not feature Diego Lugano, who proved himself to be a bit of a bell-end by describing Luis Suárez as "the only victim". The Champions League and Europa League returned and the latter proved the more entertaining. Here are the nominees:

Robinho. One of a trio of Milan players that ripped Arsenal a new one at the Giuseppe Meazza in the Champions League. Alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin Prince Boateng, Robinho was pretty much unplayable and weighed in with a couple of classy finishes.
Maxi Lopez. Had Milan succeeded in signing Carlos Tevez in January, Lopez would have remained a Catania player. He paid for himself to stay in Milan while the Tevez storm blew over and is beginning to reap the benefits, helping Milan to top spot in Serie A with the equaliser in the win over Udinese.
Radamel Falcao. Again proved himself to be possibly the deadliest striker running around today with a superbly taken brace in Rome against Lazio in the Europa League.
Jonathan Cristaldo. One of five Argentines in the Metalist Kharkiv side, striker Cristaldo was unstoppable away in Salzburg, scoring twice and virtually eliminating the Red Bull-backed nouveau riche Austrian history-deniers.
Everton. With FC Twente on a roll under their new manager, it looked a nailed on certainty they'd win the local derby at Almelo with Heracles last Friday. Heracles had other thoughts, particularly their dynamic midfield schemer Everton who bossed it throughout and scored twice in a 3-2 win.

And the name in the golden envelope is...
Jonathan Cristaldo. The diminutive striker ran Salzburg ragged and pretty much put his side in the last 16 of the Europa League with his performance. The 22-year old has one senior cap for Argentina, but he's improving all the time and more will surely follow.

This section returns in a week's time. Let us know if you spot any noteworthy performances.
Meanwhile, we apologise for the lack of regular updates from the Brazilian state leagues and the Copa Libertadores which cranked back into life last week. Unfortunately, the need to earn a living has impinged on the time our contributors have to dedicate to this project. Normal service will resume soon.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Ex-pat of the week #10

Which South Americans caught our eye this week? Well Martin Demichelis did, but for all the wrong reasons with his own goal as big-spending Malaga lost to Granada on Monday night. However, these five did the right things:

Martin Caceres. Bagged a brace for Juventus as they beat Milan in the San Siro in the Coppa Italia and was pretty well unplayable throughout.
Lucas Barrios. Might have left Borussia Dortmund during the January window, but stayed put and has since been brilliant for the Schwarzgelb. He was outstanding at the weekend as BvB went top of the league with a 2-0 win over Nurnberg, taking advantage of draws elsewhere and he chipped in again in the DFB Pokal in midweek against Holstein Kiel.
Juan (Silveira dos Santos). Roma shoulder-barged the Inter bandwagon off the rails - if that's not mixing too many metaphors - and Juan was at the heart of it in the middle of defence, keeping the Inter attack at arm's length. And he popped up with one of Roma's four at the other end.
Nenê. He just won't go away. Again, PSG failed to move him on during a transfer window and again he's forced his way into the side by being great. Scored twice at the weekend to further stake his claims as PSG remain three points clear at the top of Ligue 1.
Raul Bobadilla. Frozen out by Gladbach, the Argentine striker moved to Switzerland in January and marked his Young Boys debut in fine style with one of their three as they saw off Servette, consolidating third and closing in on Luzern in second.

And the winner is... Raul Bobadilla. The lad can be a handful and, by the same token, can infuriate. Clearly not in Lucien Favre's plans, he's made a fine start to life in Switzerland.

More next week and your nominations are welcome below or on twitter.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Ex-pat of the week #9

Slim pickings this week for some reason, so we'll be brief. This week's nominees are:

Diego Alves. Saved a Lionel Messi penalty.
Diego Milito. Milito has been nominated a few times and on the fringes for quite a while. He's impossible to leave out this time. He bagged four goals for Inter in midweek against Palermo and good job he did too, because his back five conceded the same amount.
Claudio (Rodriga Siqueira Carlino). The veteran Brazilian defender bagged two - one from the penalty spot - as lowly Gil Vicente beat Porto in Barcelos, denting the Dragons' title ambitions.

And the winner, for proving that little feller isn't a machine after all: Diego Alves. He can look like a flap merchant at times, but he's proving a key member of the Valencia squad these days. And he saved a Lionel Messi penalty.
More next week, if any games survive the freezing weather across Europe.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Campeonato Carioca - Taça Guanabara - Week 2

Group A

Bonsucesso 3-1 Maduriera
Macaé 0-0 Flamengo
Nova Iguaçu 0-0 Botafogo
Resende 3-2 Olaria

The big surprise in Group A at the weekend was the failure of the big two to gain victories. Flamengo, with a big game on Wednesday night in the Libertadores ahead of them, again sent out very much a second team and they were held to a goal less draw at Macaé. The same could be said about Botafogo who travelled to Nova Iguaçu and were also held to the same scoreline. Away from the big two, Bonsucesso picked up their first win back in the top flight of Carioca football when they defeated Madureira 3-1. Resende bounced back from their opening day defeat at Botafogo when they were victorious over Olaria. They raced into three goal lead before two late strikes from Allan left them hanging on for dear life for the last two minutes.

Group B

Friburguense 2-1 Bangu
Volta Redonda 0-3 Fluminense
Americano 1-1 Boavista
Duque de Caxias 1-3 Vasco da Gama

Business as usual in Group B as the big two both recorded comfortable victories. Fluminense needed three goals in the last eighteen minutes to see off Volta Redonda with Wellington Nem picking up his first goal since returning from his successful loan spell at Figueirense last year. A strong Vasco side were eventually too strong for Duque de Caxais at the Engenhão. Juninho Pernambucano put Vasco ahead before Gilcimar stunner the complacency out of Vasco with a leveller nine minutes after the break. Alecsandro restored the Vasco lead four minutes later before Diego Souza wrapped things up. Friburguense picked up their first win back in the top flight when two goals from Romulo set up victory agaisnt Bangu. The other game produced the first draw in Group B when Boavista would have been disappointed to let a lead slip against Americano and it finished all square.

Despite being in Libertadores action on Wednesday night Flamengo will back up on Friday night when they face Olaria. They line up like this

Group A

Bonsucesso x Nova Iguaçu
Macaé x Resenda
Madureira x Botafogo
Flamengo x Olaria

Group B

Bangu x Vasco da Gama
Friburguense x Duque de Caxias
Fluminense x Boavista
Volta Redonda x Americano

Campeonato Paulista A1 - Week 3

São Paulo 2-1 São Caetano
Oeste 0-0 Mirassol
Portuguesa 2-1 Guaratinguetá
Botafogo SP 1-2 Comercial
XV de Piracicaba 2-3 Bragantino
Corinthians 1-0 Linense
Catanduvense 1-1 Palmeiras
Paulista 1-1 Santos
Guarani 2-0 Ituano
Mogi Mirim 1-3 Ponte Preta

Only two team remain now with 100% records after Week 3 of the 2012 Paulista A1 as Mogi Mirim and Paulista fell by the wayside at the weekend. So, it's the big guns of São Paulo and Corinthians who remain perfect for the season, the former were 2-1 winner over São Caetano on Saturday night with Lucas Silva getting the winner thirteen minute from time. An pretty much full strength Corinthians side were made to work for their victory over Linense with the winner coming from Emerson Sheik with elven minutes left. Mori Mirim went down 3-1 at home to Ponte Preta side which has recovered from it's opening week defeat with back to back victories. Alan Kardec was the savour for Santos as they came from a goal down to end Paulista's 100% start. Renen put Paulista ahead with eight minutes gone and they were sixteen minutes away from victory before a fourth of the season for Kardec levelled things. The Santos striker has now scored in all three games so far this season as both teams remain unbeaten.

Palmieras also remain unbeaten but has to settle for yet another draw, this time at promoted Catanduvense. The Big Green fell behind to an Osny goal seventeen minutes from time before Fernano de Santana rescued a point eight minutes from time. Guarani made it two wins from three when they defeated Ituano at home. Two goal from Ronaldo in the space of seven first half minutes the difference between the sides. The first goal less draw of the season took place at Oeste when they were held by Mirassol. Its a first point of the season for the home side but they remain next to the bottom of the table.

XV de Piracicaba are still on the hunt for their fist win of the season, but Bragantino were able to claim their in the highest scoring game of the weekend.A last minute goal from Romarhino giving Bragantino the points and denying the home side a second point of the season. Portuguesa were another side to put a register in the win column when they defeated bottom of the table Guaratinguetá at the Candidé. They had to come from behind as well after Thiago Cunha put the visitors ahead after twenty minutes but Henrique and a Marcelo Cordiero penalty turned things around. Finally Botafogo's mixed start to the season continued when they let a lead slip to give Comercial their first win back in the top flight. Alex Barros put Botafogo ahead but a goal in each half from Elionar Bombinha, the second ten minutes from time, gave the visitors the win.

No rest for the wicked and week 4 takes place in midweek. They line up like this

São Caetano x XV de Piracicaba
Guaratinguetá x Botafogo SP
Bragantino x Portuguesa
Comercial x Catanduvense
Mirassol x Paulista
Ituano x Corinthians
Palmeiras x Mogi Mirim
São Paulo x Guarani
Santos x Oeste
Ponte Preta x Linense

Premier Sports TV is the home of South American Football in the UK
You can subscribe at or by calling 0871 663 9000

Friday, 27 January 2012

Campeonato Paulista A1 - Week 2

Mirassol 1-1 Catanduvense
Botafogo SP 2-1 XV de Piracicaba
Oeste 2-3 São Paulo
Ponte Preta 5-1 Bragantino
Paulista 3-0 Comercial
Linense 3-3 São Caetano
Palmeiras 1-1 Portuguesa
Guaratinguetá 0-2 Corinthians
Mogi Mirim 3-0 Guarani
Santos 2-1 Ituano

Two games into the season and only four teams remain with 100% records after two games. São Paulo and Corinthians you would expect, but the other two are Paulista and Mogi Mirim. São Paulo has to come from a goal behind to help secure their victory at Oeste while Corinthians had a much easier time of things down at Guaratinguetá where two first half goals from Chicão and Alessandro saw the Muskateers home. An early goal from Hernane set Mogi Mirim on their way to a 3-0 victory over promoted Guarani. Another side new to the top flight, Comercial, were easily dispatched by Paulista with Chiquinho's last minute goal putting the icing on the cake of another 3-0 victory.

With Oeste, Comercial and Guaratinguetá still waiting to pick up a point this season, the other team yet to make an impression on the league table is Bragantino. They ended up on the back of a 5-1 defeat at Ponte Preta, who bounced back from their weekend defeat although three goals in the final three minutes made the scoreline a little lop sided. A still under strength Santos were another side to pick up their first win of the season but they needed a last minute Alan Kardec goal to defeat Ituano at the Vila. Botafogo SP were the other side to get their first win of the season when they defeated promoted XV de Piracicaba. Gustavo Bastos with the winner nine minutes from time.

At the Pacaembu, Palmeiras needed a Ricardo Bueno goal nine minutes from time to rescue a point after Portuguesa had gone ahead four minutes after the break through Maylson. Catanduvense picked up their first point at the season at Mirassol. Sergio Manoel put the home side ahead with nine minutes gone but Washington levelled fifteen minutes later. Finally the highest scoring game of the week was at Linense where the home side came from behind twice in an exciting 3-3 draw with São Caetano. The visitors were two up inside eighteen minutes before Éder Marcelo levelled for Linense five minutes after the break. Carlos Silva put São Caetano ahead again half way though the second half but Fabio Santos squared matters four minutes later but neither team could find a winner.

Week three takes place this weekend and they line up like this

São Paulo x São Caetano
Oeste x Mirassol
Portuguesa x Guaratinguetá
Botafogo SP x Comercial
XV de Piracicaba x Bragantino
Corinthians x Linense
Catanduvense x Palmeiras
Paulista x Santos
Guarani x Ituano
Mogi Mirim x Ponte Preta

Premier Sports TV is the home of live South American Football in the UK
You can subscribe at or by calling 0871 663 9000

Copa Libertadores - First Stage First Leg

Arsenal 3-0 Sport Huancayo
El Nacional 1-0 Libertad
Unión Española 1-0 UANL
Real Potosí 2-1 Flamengo
Internacional 1-0 Once Caldas
Peñarol 4-0 Caracas FC

The opening game of the 2012 Copa Santander Libertadores took place in Avellaneda on Tuesday night as Arsenal put one foot into Group Four with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Sport Huancayo of Peru. Jorge Córdoba put the Arsenal one up half way through the first half and Emilio Zelaya doubled the lead nine minutes before the break. Half way through the second half the home side were reduced to ten men when Carlos Carbonero was sent off but they grabbed a vital third two minutes from time when substitue Claudio Mosca struck five minutes after coming on. In Quito, El Nacional will take a slender advantage back to Asunción next week after a single goal victory over Libertad. Juan Luis Anangonó got the only goal of the game a minute before half time. There was also a single goal in Santiago as Unión Española grabbed an advantage to take back to Mexico next week after victory over UANL. Gonzalo Barriga with the goal just short of the hour as the teams compete for a place in Group Three.

A much changed Flamengo side from the one the opened up the Carioca at the weekend travelled to the highlands of Real Potosí with a place in Group Two up for grabs. The visitors were at full strength, but were lacking in match time but they took the lead on the half hour through Luiz Antonio. The lead lasted two minutes before Claudio Centurion levelled for Real and they gave themselves an advantage for the return at the Engenhão next week when Edgardo Brittes got a winner just short of the hour. If past reputations were anything to go by, this is the tie of the round as two former winners in Internacinal of Brazil and Once Caldas of Colombia met in Port Alegre with a spot in Group One up for grabs. It will be the 2010 champions who will take an advantage back to Caldas next week after Andre D'Alessandro set up Leandro Damião who continued his fine form of 2011 with the only goal of the game after twelve minutes. Last year's runner up Peñarol of Uruguay should take their place in Group 3 after rolling Caracas of Venezuela in Montevideo. Two goals in three minutes from Nicolas Freitas and Marcelo Zalayeta put the home side in control. João Pedro made it three twenty minutes after the break and Fabian Estoyanoff got a fourth twenty minutes from time. The night went from bad to worse for Caracas when Fidel Pérez was sent off eight minutes from time.

The second legs take place next week

Libertad v El Nacional
Sport Huancayo v Arsenal
Flamengo v Real Posotí - LIVE on Premier Sports TV
Once Caldas v Internacional
Caracas v Peñarol
UANL v Unión Española

Premier Sports TV is the home of the Copa Libertadores in the UK
You can subscribe at or by calling 0871 663 9000

Ex-pat of the week #8

Pretty much all the big leagues are back up and running now, so it's wall-to-wall FOOTBALL from here on out until spring. Who has caught the eye of our panel this week?

Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian has been at his very best lately. A spell filling in at right-back has, if anything, improved his all-round game, but restored to the flank he was devastating for Manchester United as they beat Arsenal and turned a five-horse race into a straight duel.

Diego Milito. The boy can't stop scoring, and as a result Inter can't stop winning. He bagged another in the league against Lazio last weekend as Inter went to eight straight wins, a run that was only ended by...

Edinson Cavani. Bagged both and was generally amazing as Napoli ended Inter's long run of wins with a 2-0 Coppa Italia quarter-final win.

Fernando Muslera. Galatasaray assumed control of the Turkish Super Liga and have done so on the back of a string of clean sheets. Another one this week for their Uruguayan goalkeeper.

Radamel Falcao. Another week, another bagful of goals for the Colombian. Three more this week as Atlético cruised past Real Sociedad. When Falcao plays well, Atléti play well and he's key to the club's fortunes.

And the nod goes to:

Fernando Muslera. We don't give enough credit to goalkeepers at times, but after a difficult time in Italy, Muslera settled quickly in Turkey and is a key part of Gala's title push.

More at the same time next week. Do let us know if you spot a noteworthy performance in the meantime.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Campeonato Carioca - Taça Guanabara - Week 1

Group A

Flamengo 4-0 Bonsucesso
Botafogo 3-1 Resende
Olaria 0-1 Nova Iguaçu
Madureira 1-0 Macaé

The big two in the Group both got off to victories. Flamengo made light work of promoted Bonsucesso at the Engenhão as they prepared for their midweek Copa Libertadores qualifier in Bolivia. Two goal in the space of three first half minutes from Jael put Flamengo in control before Camacho and Adryan wrapped things up in the second half. The day after the Engenhão witnessed Botafogo make hard work of overcoming Resende. Sebastian Abreu put the Alvinegro ahead but Emerson's leveller on half time stunned the small crowd. Maicosuel restored the Botafogo lead before a second from Abreu wrapped things up. Nova Iguaçu got off to a winning start when Leandrão's goal midway through the second half was enough to give them victory at Olaria. Madureira also made a winning start to the season when Dinei's goal a minute before the break was enough to give them victory over Macaé.

Group B

Fluminense 3-0 Friburguense
Boavista 3-1 Duque de Caxias
Vasco da Gama 2-0 Americano
Bangu 1-2 Volta Redonda

Unlike Flamengo, Fluminense don't get their Libertadores campaign underway for a couple of weeks but they put a strong side out to defeat Friburguense in Bangu. Araújo set the Tricolor on their way after fifteen minutes before Rafael Moura doubled the lead nine minutes before the break. Thiago Carleto got the third six minutes into the second half to give Fluminense a comfortable night. Vasco da Gama start their Libertadores campaign the night after Fluminense and they were comfortable winners over Americano at the Engenhão. Alecsandro put them ahead after half an hour and Fágner doubled the lead ten minutes later. Despite losing Jonathan to a red card sixteen minutes from time Vasco were able to comfortably hold on. Last season's Taça Guanabara runners up Boavista got their campaign off with victory over a Duque de Caxias side which took 30th minutes lead through Gilcimar. Two goals in a minute from Luiz Alberto around the hour but Boavista ahead before Somália grabbed a third fifteen minutes from time. Finally a last minute goal from Volta Redonda ensured that there were no drawn games at the weekend. Bangu took a third minute lead through Tiago Neiva but Joao Gabriel levelled on the hour before Jhonnattann snatched all three points.

With Flamengo in continental action this midweek Round two takes place next weekend and they line up like this

Group A

Bonsucesso x Maduriera
Macaé x Flamengo
Nova Iguaçu x Botafogo
Resende x Olaria

Group B

Friburguense x Bangu
Volta Redonda X Fluminense
Americano x Boavista
Duque de Caxais x Vasco da Gama

Campeonato Paulista A1 - Week 1

Corinthians 2-1 Mirassol
Portuguesa 0-2 Paulista
Ituano 3 - 0 Guaratinguetá
XV de Piracicaba 1 - 1 Santos
Guarani 2 - 1 Oeste
Comercial 3 - 4 Linense
Bragantino 1 - 2 Palmeiras
São Paulo 4 - 0 Botafogo SP
São Caetano 1 - 0 Ponte Preta
Catanduvense 0 - 2 Mogi Mirim

The four promoted sides had mixed results as the 2012 Paulistão got underway at the weekend. Guarani, who despite being in the national top flight in 2010, got the best result with a come from behind 2-1 victory over a ten man Oeste side that made the finals last year. Fabio Souza got the Guarani winner seven minutes from time. Last year Série A2 Champions XV de Piracicaba are back in the top flight after a 16 year absence and they will be happy with a point against reigning champions Santos. Alan Kardec put Santos ahead in the first half but André Cunha grabbed an equaliser two minutes from time for XV de Piracicaba. The other two promoted sides were defeated, Comercial threw a two goal lead away to go down to the odd goal in seven at home to Linense while Catanduvense learned life will be hard in the top flight when they went down 2-0 at home to Mogi Mirim.

Santos apart, the big guns all started their season with victories. São Paulo were the biggest winners on the day with a 4-0 victory over Botafogo SP with Luís Fabiano chipping in with the last goal. Palmeiras needed a Maikon Leite winner six minutes from time for them to win at Bragantino while Corinthians needed two goals in the last fifteen minutes to overcome Mirassol at the Pacaembu. Two sides which have been promoted to the National top flight for 2012 both fell to defeat. Portguesa went down 2-0 at the Candidé to Paulista while Ponte Preta were defeated by a Moradei goal for São Caetano. Ituano stayed in the top flight on goal difference last season but got their season off to a confident start with a thumping victory over Guaratinguetá to leave them second in the table behind São Paulo after the first week.

As ever, no rest for the wicked in the Paulistão as Week 2 takes place this midweek

Mirrasol x Catanduvense
Botafogo SP x XV de Piracicaba
Oeste x São Paulo
Ponte Preta x Bragantino
Paulista x Comercial
Linense x São Caetano
Palmeiras x Portuguesa
Guaratinguetá x Corinthians
Mogi Mirim x Guarani
Santos x Ituano

Premier Sports TV is the home of South American football in the UK
You can subscribe at or by calling 0871 663 9000

Saturday, 21 January 2012

2012 Copa Libertadores Guide

Next week the the 53rd edition of the Copa Santader Libertadores will get underway in Buenos Aires when Arsenal take on Sport Huancayo in the first game of the qualifying round as 35 teams attempt to wrestle the crown away from last year's winner Santos of Brazil.

12 teams enter in the qualifying round with 26 teams going straight into the group phase. Brazil have six entries this year as holders Santos are guaranteed the chance to defend their title. Argentina have five entries and the rest of the associations, plus invitees Mexico have three qualifiers each.

These fixtures are dated to UK times and a game a week will be covered by Premier Sports TV. Friend of the site Will Downing will be up into the early hours calling the shots from the premier club competition in South America

Qualifying Round

Game 1: Arsenal (Argentina) v Sport Huancayo (Peru) Leg 1: 24 Jan, Leg 2: 31 Jan
Game 2: Real Potosí (Bolivia) v Flamengo (Brazil) Leg 1: 25 Jan, Leg 2: 1 Feb
Game 3: Peñarol (Uruguay) v Caracas FC (Venezuela) Leg 1: 26 Jan, Leg 2: 2 Feb
Game 4: El Nacional (Ecuador)v Libertad (Paraguay) Leg 1: 24 Jan, Leg 2: 31 Jan
Game 5: Internacional (Brazil) v Once Caldas (Colombia) Leg 1: 25 Jan, Leg 2: 1 Feb
Game 6: Unión Española (Chile) v UANL (Mexico) Leg 1: 25 Jan, Leg 2: 2 Feb

Group 1: Santos (Brazil), Juan Aurich (Peru), The Strongest (Bolivia), Winner Game 5

Feb 9: Winner Game 5 v Juan Aurich
Feb 15: The Strongest v Santos
Feb 24: The Strongest v Juan Aurich
Mar 8: Santos  v Winner Game 5
Mar 14: Juan Aurich v Santos
Mar 15: Winner Game 5 v The Strongest
Mar 21: The Strongest v Winner Game 5
Mar 23: Santos v Juan Aurich
Apr 5: Winner Game 5 v Santos
Apr 6: Juan Aurich v The Strongest
Apr 19: Juan Aurich v Winner Game 5
Apr 19 Santos v The Strongest

Group 2: Olimpia (Paraguay), Emelec (Ecuador), Lánus (Argentina), Winner Game 2

Feb 10: Emelec v Olimpia
Feb 16: Lanús v Winner Game 2
Feb 23: Olimpia v Lánus
Mar 9: Winner Game 2 v Emelec
Mar 13: Lanús v Emelec
Mar 16: Winner Game 2 v Olimpia
Mar 20: Emelec v Lánus
Mar 29: Olimpia v Winner Game 2
Apr 3: Lanús v Olimpia
Apr 5: Emelec v Winner Game 2
Apr 12: Olimpia v Emelec
Apr 12: Winner Game 2 v Lánus

Group 3: Bolívar (Bolivia), Atlético Junior (Colombia), Universidad Católica (Chile), Winner Game 6

Feb 9: Universidad Católica v Bolívar
Feb 10: Winner Game 6 v Atlético Junior
Feb 22: Bolívar v Winner Game 6
Feb 24: Universidad Católica v Atlético Junior
Mar 7: Winner Game 6 v Universidad Católica
Mar 9: Atlético Junior v Bolívar
Mar 21: Bolívar v Atlético Junior
Mar 29: Universidad Católica v Winner Game 6
Apr 6: Atlético Junior v Universidad Católica
Apr 11: Winner Game 6 v Bolívar
Apr 18: Atlético Junior v Winner Game 6
Apr 18: Bolívar v Universidad Católica

Group 4: Boca Juniors (Argentina), Zamora (Venezuela), Fluminense (Brazil), Winner Game 1

Feb 8: Fluminense v Winner Game 1
Feb 15: Zamora v Boca Juniors
Feb 22: Winner Game 1 v Zamora
Mar 8: Boca Juniors v Fluminense
Mar 14: Fluminense v Zamora
Mar 14: Winner Game 1 v Boca Juniors
Mar 29: Boca Juniors v Winner Game 1
Mar 30: Zamora v Fluminense
Apr 10: Zamora v Winner Game 1
Apr 12: Fluminense v Boca Juniors
Apr 18: Boca Juniors v Zamora
Apr 18: Winner Game 1 v Fluminense

Group 5: Nacional (Uruguay), Alianza Lima (Peru), Vasco da Gama (Brazil), Winner Game 4

Feb 9: Vasco da Gama v Nacional
Feb 10: Winner Game 4 v Alianza Lima
Feb 16: Nacional v Winner Game 4
Mar 7: Vasco da Gama v Alianza Lima
Mar 15: Winner Game 4 v Vasco da Gama
Mar 21: Alianza Lima v Nacional
Mar 22: Vasco da Game v Winner Game 4
Mar 27: Nacional v Alianza Lima
Apr 4: Alianza Lima v Vasco da Gama
Apr 5: Winner Game 5 v Nacional
Apr 13: Alianza Lima v Winner Game 4
Apr 13: Nacional v Vasco da Gama

Group 6: Corinthians (Brazil), Deportiva Táchira (Venezuela), Nacional (Paraguay), Cruz Azul (Mexico)

Feb 8: Nacional v Cruz Azul
Feb 16: Deportivo Táchira v Corinthians
Feb 22: Cruz Azul v Deportivo Táchira
Mar 8: Corinthians v Nacional
Mar 13: Nacional v Deportivo Táchira
Mar 15: Cruz Azul v Corinthians
Mar 22: Corinthians v Cruz Azul
Mar 28: Deportivo Táchira v Nacional
Apr 3: Deportivo Táchira v Cruz Azul
Apr 12: Nacional v Corinthians
Apr 19: Corinthians v Deportivo Táchira
Apr 19: Cruz Azul v Nacional

Group 7: Vélez Sarsfield (Argentina), Deportivo Quito (Ecuador), Defensor Sporting (Uruguay), CD Guadalajara (Mexico)

Feb 7: Defensor Sporting v Vélez Sarsfield
Feb 8: CD Guadalajara v Deportivo Quito
Feb 14: Defensor Sporting v Deportivo Quito
Feb 23: Vélez Sarsfield v CD Guadalajara
Mar 7: Deportivo Quito v Vélez Sarsfield
Mar 14: CD Guadalajara v Defensor Sporting
Mar 22: Vélez Sarsfield v Deportivo Quito
Mar 28: Defensor Sporting v CD Guadalajara
Apr 10: Deportivo Quito v Defensor Sporting
Apr 11: CD Guadalajara v Vélez Sarsfield
Apr 17: Deportivo Quito v CD Guadalajara
Apr 17: Vélez Sarsfield v Defensor Sporting

Group 8: Universidad de Chile (Chile), Atlético Nacional (Colombia), Godoy Cruz (Argentina), Winner Game 3

Feb 15: Atlético Nacional v Universidad De Chile
Feb 17: Godoy Cruz v Winner Game 3
Feb 21: Winner Game 3 v Atlético Nacional
Feb 22: Universidad de Chile v Godoy Cruz
Mar 6: Winner Game 3 v Universidad de Chile
Mar 9: Godoy Cruz v Atlético Nacional
Mar 23: Atlético Nacional v Godoy Cruz
Mar 30: Universidad de Chile v Winner Game 3
Apr 4: Godoy Cruz v Universidad de Chile
Apr 11: Atlético Nacional v Winner Game 3
Apr 20: Winner Game 3 v Godoy Cruz
Apr 20: Universidad de Chile v Atlético Nacional

Round of 16 First Leg: Week commencing 30th April
Round of 16 Second Leg: Week commencing 7th May
Quarter Final First Leg: Week commencing 14th May
Quarter Final Second Leg: Week commencing 21st May
Semi Final First Leg: Week commencing 11th June
Semi Final Second Leg: Week commencing 18th June
Final First Leg: Week commencing 25th June
Final Second Leg: Week commencing 2nd July

Premier Sports TV is the home of the Copa Libertadores in the UK
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Friday, 20 January 2012

Ex-pat of the week #7

The French league resumed this week with the last two - Germany and Holland - set to begin again this week as Europe snaps out of holiday mode. There was derby action too in Italy and Spain and cup games galore. Here's who stood out for us this week:

Fernando Amorebieta. Athletic Club de Bilbao are making great strides under Marcelo Bielsa and his Venezuelan centre-back is at the heart of it. Another clean sheet in the league and a rare goal - his second this season out of a total of two for the club in seven years - was followed by another clean sheet in the Copa del Rey against Mallorca as Athletic put one foot in the semi-finals.
Radamel Falcao. Difficult times at Atlético Madrid, but things have started well under new manager Diego Simeone as they walloped Villarreal with Colombian striker Falcao the stand-out player on the field.
Nenê. When the Qatari money flooded into PSG, it was thought that Nenê's days there were numbered. But he's worked his way into his new manager's thinking and bagged a brace as the Parisians maintained top spot by beating a good Toulouse side 3-1.
Matias Suárez. Get used to the name as he's attracting a lot of interest. Anderlecht opened up four-point gap at the top of the Belgian league after beating Club Brugge at the weekend, Suárez the stand-out player and scorer of the third goal.
Maicon. Inter are on a roll in the league and also making strides in the Coppa Italia. Maicon rifled in a thunderbastard opener from 25 yards for the opener this week against Genoa and created the second, eventually finished by Andrea Poli, in a 2-1 win.

And the winner...
Radamel Falcao. When he's on song, Atléti look like world-beaters. When he isn't... But he was this week and got his new gaffer off to a flier.

Seriously. Can you name this section better than this? Let us know yeah

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Campeonato Carioca 2012

With the Paulista kicking off this weekend the action also gets underway in the other of the state leagues we cover in Brazil. The Campeonato Carioca. The 111th edition kicks off this Saturday afternoon with Flamengo looking to defend both the Taça Guanabara and the Taça Rio.

The sixteen clubs are split into two groups with the Big 4 in Rio, Vasco da Gama, Flamengo, Botafogo and Fluminense seeded so two are in each group. Friburguense return to the top flight after a 12 month absence and they take their place in Group B while Bonsucesso also come into the top flight and they will play in Group A.

The format of the competition is unchanged. The teams are drawn into two groups with the big four seeded two to a group. The first stage is the Taça Guanabara where all the teams play a single round robin against the teams in their group, giving seven games. The top two in each group meet in a single game semi final with a group winner playing the opposite group runner up, which if level goes straight to penalties, before a single game final which again goes to penalties after 90 minutes.

The second stage is the Taça Rio, for this the clubs play every team in the opposite group giving a total of 8 games. As with the Guanabara the top two in each group meet in a single game semi final with a group winner playing the opposite group runner up, which if level goes straight to penalties, before a single game final which again goes to penalties after 90 minutes.

If a team wins both stages, as happened last year with Flamengo, they are automatically crowned state champions and the need for the play off is not required. Otherwise the winners of the Taça Guanabara and Taça Rio meet over two games at the Engenhão with the winners over the two games being crowned State champions.

The Big Four normally fill the play off spots but Boavista surprised everyone last year by making the Taça Guanabara final while Olaria pipped Botafogo to a place in the Taça Rio Semi Finals. This year though things could be a bit different with three of the big four, Botafogo being the exception, have the Copa Libertadores to contend with. Flamengo still have to get through the qualifying stage which starts the week following the opening fixtures. Fluminense and Vasco da Gama have qualified directly in the group stage so their distraction is a possibly great than that of Flamengo.

So the action gets underway this weekend and we'll have a round up of things on Monday

The opening fixtures are

Olaria x Nova Iguaçu        
Madureira x Macaé        
Fluminense x Friburguense        
Flamengo x Bonsucesso
Boavista x Duque de Caxias
Vasco da Gama x Americano        
Bangu x    Volta Redonda        
Botafogo x Resende

Monday, 16 January 2012

Campeonato Paulista 2012

After seven weeks off for the big clubs, and just five in the case of Santos after their trip to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup. It's back to business at weekend as oldest league tournament in Brazilian Football gets underway for it's 111th edition.

The new play off format which was introduced last season will continue into 2012. The first round will be single elimination on a 1 v 8; 2 v 7; 3 v 6; 4 v 5 format. The winners then progress to the semi finals and again that will be a single elimination game. The final as ever will be played over two games in mid-May. For the opening two rounds the highest placed team will be at home and if it's all square after 90 minutes penalties will decide things.

Santos are the defending back to back champions, but after dominating in 2010 they won the competition from fourth place last year despite having the Libertadores as huge distraction. This will again be the case this year as they look to defend their continental title as well. They will open up their campaign at last year's Série B champions XV de Piracicaba.

The four big clubs in São Paulo finished in the top four places in the league with São Paulo actually winning the league stage before crashing out to Santos in the semi finals. Corinthians were runners up last year, the finished third in the league despite having no Libertadores distractions. Although the National Title ended up with the Muskateers they will be looking for a 27th title. Palmeiras, under Felipão, finished second after the league state before losing on penalties to Corinthians in the semi finals. Their form was alarming in the national championship towards the end of last year and the pressure will be immediately on the former Brazil, Portugal and Chelsea coach.

Of the other teams, Ponte Preta and Portuguesa will be looking for strong seasons as they prepare for a return to the National top flight in May while last year's Troféu do Interior winners Oeste and Mirassol will be looking to repeat last years play-off qualifying success.

The four promoted clubs who take their place in the top flight are XV de Piracicaba, Guarani, Comercial and Catanduvense the champions of Série A2 this year. They will be looking to keep their place in the top flight as four team will be relegated to Série A2. One more change has seen Americana return to Guaratinguetá and change their name back again.

So we get underway this weekend and they line up like this and we'll have a full round up on Monday. Confirmation that coverage on Premier Sports TV is yet to arrive but we expect a couple of games to feature.

Corinthians x Mirassol - Selected for TV Coverage
Portuguesa x Paulista
Ituano x Guaratinguetá
XV de Piracicaba x Santos
Guarani x Oeste
Comercial x Linense
Bragantino x Palmeiras
São Paulo x Botafogo SP - Selected for TV Coverage
São Caetano x Ponte Preta
Catanduvense x Mogi Mirim

Premier Sports TV is the home of South American Football in the UK
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Friday, 13 January 2012

Ex-pat Of The Week #6

Welcome back. As the leagues around Europe crank back into action, it's time to have a first look at those making their way in the game away from South American shores and make note of those who are doing it rather well. Yes, it's the first Ex-pat Of The Week* for 2012. Here are your nominees:

Ricardo Álvarez. Diego Milito - the forgotten man at Internazionale - may have bagged a brace, but the architect of their 5-0 win over Parma was fellow Argentine Alvarez. This was Inter's fifth win in a row which saw them climb to fifth place in Serie A, a great tonic to begin 2012 this way after the season started so badly.
Erik Lamela. Meanwhile, in the Coppa Italia, Roma's Argentine midfielder Lamela continued his emergence at the top level with a starring role against Fiorentina, capped by two goals.
Diego Lugano. A winning start for Carlo Ancelotti at PSG and he was indebted to two South Americans. Javier Pastore put the oil-rich Parisians ahead against fifth division St-Colomban, but they were begged back by a second half penalty. Lugano popped up with a winner two minutes into stoppage time to spare blushes all round in what could prove to be a significant result.
Óscar Cardozo. The Benfica striker has hit the ground running after the winter break, steering his side to a win in the League Cup and chipping in as they beat União de Leiria 4-0 to return to the top of the Liga Zon Sagres.
Gonzalo Castro. The league isn't yet back up and running in Spain, but the Copa del Rey round of 16 took place during the week. Mallorca trailed 2-0 to Real Sociedad after the first leg in San Sebastian and back on the island, they improved the lead with an early Diego Ifrán strike. Cue a nost impressive comeback as Los Bermellones stormed back with six unanswered goals, Uruguayan midfielder Castro getting the first to get the ball rolling and the fourth, which but Mallorca ahead in the tie for the first time.

And the winner is...
Erik Lamela. We like this boy and he's getting better and better. This was his best performance for the Giallorossi to date and we hope there are plenty more to come.

* - we really could use a better name for this feature than that. Any suggestions? That and nominations for next week's award, chuck us a line on Twitter or leave us a comment below.