Episode 202: Boca close in on the title and Argentina gear up for World Cup qualifying

The two hundred and second episode of Hand Of Pod sees Sam, English Dan and Andrés convene to discuss a weekend of football which saw Boca Juniors open up an imposing six point lead at the top of the table with just three matches remaining. Following San Lorenzo and Rosario Central’s 2-2 draw, Boca struggled a bit but still beat Crucero del Norte 1-0, as a result of which Crucero, to no-one’s surprise, are relegated. Still clinging on to their Primera status – for now – are Nueva Chicago, who grabbed a 2-1 win over Vélez Sarsfield. River Plate put in an awful performance and were well beaten, 3-0 by Independiente, and Quilmes’ good form continued. This weekend the Primera takes a break for the first double-header of CONMEBOL’s marathon World Cup qualifying campaign, which will see a Lionel Messi-less Argentina host Ecuador on Thursday and travel to Paraguay on Tuesday. HOP is sponsored by Argentina Independent, a fine English-language source of news from Argentina and across Latin America.

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Mystic Sam’s World Cup Qualifying predictions (last week in the league: 7/15)
Argentina 3-0 Ecuador
Paraguay 1-2 Argentina

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Episode 197: More AFA power struggles, crisis at Crucero del Norte and violence rears its head again

This week’s Hand Of Pod sees Sam and Andrés have as much off-pitch stuff to focus on as on-pitch. San Lorenzo drew and Boca Juniors won, to leave Boca two points clear at the top heading into this Sunday’s clash of the top two, but the bigger news last weekend was in Mendoza, where Godoy Cruz v Racing was called off after 25 minutes with Racing leading 1-0, after Godoy Cruz barras started pelting the players with stones, apparently in protest at new manager Gabriel Heinze’s refusal to give them money. There is also crisis at Crucero del Norte, whose players have started to publicly complain about how they have to travel to away matches. As well as all this, we look at the latest bizarre twists in the ongoing story of Marcelo Tinelli’s campaign to get elected as president of the Argentine FA, look at two more points dropped by River Plate, and much more. HOP is sponsored by Argentina Independent, a fine English-language source of news from Argentina and across Latin America.

You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher, and follow us on Twitter.

Mystic Sam’s twenty-second round predictions (last week: 3/14)
Banfield v Argentinos
Tigre v Godoy Cruz
Central v Arsenal
Temperley v Belgrano
Defensa y Justicia v Newell’s
Huracán v Independiente
Crucero v Lanús
Colón v Sarmiento
Boca v San Lorenzo
Racing v Gimnasia
Olimpo v Unión
Chicago v River
San Martín v Vélez
Atlético de Rafaela v Quilmes
Estudiantes v Aldosivi

Episode 196: San Lorenzo and Boca extend their lead, Gerardo Martino isn’t happy and more

In the hundred and ninety-sixth episode of Hand Of Pod, Sam and Andrés look back on a weekend which saw San Lorenzo and Boca Juniors extend their (joint-)leadership of the title race, as they both won and River Plate slumped to a second straight defeat. Even more amazingly, Nueva Chicago won for the second week running – though we suspect both they and the team they beat, Crucero del Norte, will still be the two sides ultimately doomed to relegation. Argentina manager Gerardo Martino had some choice words for the Argentine FA’s schedulers, and River are entering the transfer market after Ramiro Funes Mori’s sale to Everton leaves them with a slot to fill in the defence and the cash to do so. HOP is sponsored by Argentina Independent, a fine English-language source of news from Argentina and across Latin America.

You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher, and follow us on Twitter.

Mystic Sam’s twenty-second round predictions (last week: 6/15)
Newell’s v Colón
Argentinos v Crucero del Norte
Sarmiento v Atl. Rafaela
Vélez v Defensa y Justicia
Quilmes v Temperley
Arsenal v Tigre
San Lorenzo v Banfield
Independiente v Estudiantes
River v Huracán
Unión v Central
Aldosivi v San Martín
Belgrano v Olimpo
Godoy Cruz v Racing
Lanús v Chicago

Episode 175: Central’s fine start, Newell’s search for identity & one third of the league are awful

In the hundred and seventy-fifth episode of Hand Of Pod, Sam, Andrés and Peter discuss another weekend of action which included an amazing 53-yard lob from San Lorenzo’s Pablo Barrientos, River Plate throwing away a 2-0 lead to draw with Unión, and Boca Juniors being held away to Colón. Rosario Central, meanwhile, have won four out of four under rookie manager Eduardo Coudet, whilst their cross-city rivals Newell’s Old Boys still don’t look the finished article, though they defend with the ball well. Also, a third of the league are bloody awful – to no-one’s surprise – with Crucero del Norte the unwilling poster boys for the shortcomings of most of the ten newly-promoted sides. Hand Of Pod is sponsored by Argentina Independent, a wonderful source of English-language news from Argentina and across Latin America.

You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher, and follow us on Twitter.

Mystic Sam’s fifth round predictions (last week: 6/15)
Crucero del Norte v Olimpo
Racing v Colón
Banfield v San Martín
Boca v Defensa y Justicia
Gimnasia v Chicago
Unión v Independiente
Sarmiento v Newell’s
Central v Temperley
Tigre v Atlético de Rafaela
Argentinos v Estudiantes
Godoy Cruz v Lanús
Quilmes v Vélez Sarsfield
San Lorenzo v Huracán
Arsenal v River
Belgrano v Aldosivi