The two hundred and ninth episode of Hand Of Pod sees Sam joined by English Dan, Andrés, Fran and guest Rob Crisp for a brief roundup of the qualification playoffs for the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, and a preview of the finals for same (including a Racing v Independiente double-header for the final Libertadores spot, which is going to be great fun for the neutral). On Thursday night, Huracán reached their first ever continental final, a 2-2 draw at home to Copa Sudamericana holders River Plate giving them a 3-2 aggregate win and meaning River’s amazing run of continental success under Marcelo Gallardo has come to an end, a couple of weeks before they get underway at the Club World Cup. We look back on that tie, on what Huracán have got to shout about and how they might do in the final against Independiente Santa Fe, and at River’s ongoing issues ahead of their trip to Japan. HOP is sponsored by Argentina Independent, a fine English-language source of news from Argentina and across Latin America.
The two hundred and eighth episode of Hand Of Pod is a relatively short one (by our standards), in which Sam and English Dan meet to discuss the encouraging improvement in Argentina’s performances in World Cup qualifying, which in the last week have seen them claim a (slightly unlucky) 1-1 draw at home to Brazil and a 1-0 win way to Colombia. Is Gerardo Martino’s ‘idea’ any clearer, and how will it be affected when Lionel Messi returns to the team? We also look forward to the pre-Sudamericana and pre-Libertadores liguillas (playoff tournaments) which are all that now remain of the Argentine Primera season for 2015, and have a rather inexpert go at working out which teams have been and might still be promoted from the second and third divisions. HOP is sponsored by Argentina Independent, a fine English-language source of news from Argentina and across Latin America.
Episode 207 of Hand Of Pod is a very special one, because on Friday we turn five years old. Sam is joined for the celebration by Andrés, English Dan, Peter and very special guest Tim Vickery, who’s flown down from Rio de Janeiro specially for the occasion. Entirely coincidentally to Tim’s visit (honest), on Thursday night Argentina host Brazil in World Cup qualifying, so after a review of last weekend’s most important league action – which saw Nueva Chicago relegated in spite of an impressive win over Quilmes – and a discussion about our team of the championship, we move on to previewing Argentina v Brazil. There’s plenty of chat throughout about the differences between football in the two countries, from the trends in management (Argentina good, Brazil bad) to player development, in which it seems both countries have something of an imbalance in very different ways. HOP is sponsored by Argentina Independent, a fine English-language source of news from Argentina and across Latin America.
Mystic Sam’s predictions for Argentina’s two upcoming WCQs:
The two hundred and sixth episode of Hand Of Pod sees Sam, English Dan, Andrés and Fede convene to talk about what might be Argentina’s first proper domestic league-and-cup double (although given how young the Copa Argentina is, that’s not quite as historic as it sounds). Carlos Tevez ended up making the difference for a Boca side who got cross the line in the title race on Sunday by beating Tigre, and who owed a large debt of gratitude to an eyecatchingly bad refereeing (and linesmanning) performance in Wednesday night’s Copa Argentina final against Rosario Central. We discuss Boca’s merits and what they need to strengthen ahead of next year’s Copa Libertadores, and look forward to the upcoming final weekend of normal season league action, with a rundown of what’s at stake in each of the matches Mystic Sam predicts. HOP is sponsored by Argentina Independent, a fine English-language source of news from Argentina and across Latin America.
Mystic Sam’s thirtieth round predictions (last week: 8/15)
Lanús v Sarmiento
Estudiantes v Unión
Chicago v Quilmes
San Martín v Arsenal
Defensa y Justicia v Godoy Cruz
Colón v Gimnasia
Temperley v Argentinos
Olimpo v Banfield
Independiente v Vélez
River v Newell’s
Huracán v Belgrano
Atl. Rafaela v San Lorenzo
Central v Boca
Tigre v Racing
Crucero del Norte v Aldosivi