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.