Episode 219: two wins get Argentina’s World Cup hopes on track, Messi’s brilliance and more

The two hundred and nineteenth episode of Hand Of Pod sees Sam joined by Andrés and Fran to look back on Argentina’s two recent World Cup qualifying victories, away to Chile and at home to Bolivia. The character shown by the team, the attacking play in both first halves and of course the six points were some of the positives (as was Lionel Messi’s brilliance in both matches), but the displays weren’t perfect by any means, and we run the rule over what could have been better. Listeners’ questions range from new Argentina goalscoring hero Gabriel Mercado to Daniel Osvaldo’s fitness and whether it’s acceptable for a foreigner to support Arsenal de Sarandí (the answer to that last one is ‘no’).

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Mystic Chris Murtagh’s ninth round predictions (last time out Mystic Tom Robinson got 10/15!)
Atlético Tucumán vs Huracán
Olimpo vs Central
Temperley vs Estudiantes
Racing vs Tigre
Boca vs Atlético de Rafaela
Patronato vs River
Banfield vs Colón
Newell’s vs Aldosivi
San Martín vs Argentinos
San Lorenzo vs Belgrano
Vélez vs Godoy Cruz
Defensa y Justicia vs Arsenal
Sarmiento vs Indepediente
Gimnasia vs Quilmes
Unión vs Lanus

Episode 208: Argentina finally click in World Cup qualifying, and we gear up for the playoffs

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.

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Episode 207: We are five! Previewing Argentina v Brazil with Tim Vickery

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.

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Mystic Sam’s predictions for Argentina’s two upcoming WCQs:
Two draws

Episode 200: Tevez makes headlines as Boca stay top, Martino’s first WCQ Argentina squad and more

Hand Of Pod is 200 episodes old, and this week Sam is joined by Peter and Andrés for a champagne celebration in a bumper episode. We look back over a weekend of Primera action which saw Carlos Tevez make more bad headlines (for breaking an opponent’s leg) than good (for scoring twice) during Boca Juniors’ 3-1 win over Argentinos Juniors which saw them remain top of the table. There were a few belting goals as well, and there’s praise for the fine form of Independiente, Quilmes and others. We examine the run-ins of the title candidates – of whom we’ve decided there are three, with both leaders Boca and current second-placed San Lorenzo still yet to play third-placed Rosario Central, and also look at Gerardo Martino’s first World Cup qualifying Argentina squad, which among more predictable calls includes Paulo Dybala’s first call-up and Gonzalo Higuaín’s exclusion. All this and plenty of listeners’ questions! Thanks for your support over our first 200 episodes, and here’s to plenty more… 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 twenty-sixth round predictions (last week: 9/15)
Olimpo v Godoy Cruz
Atlético de Rafaela v Unión
Colón v Belgrano
Racing v Argentinos
Crucero del Norte v River
Tigre v San Lorenzo
Chicago v Aldosivi
Boca v Banfield
Defensa y Justicia v Quilmes
Central v Gimnasia
Lanús v Independiente
Huracán v Vélez
San Martín v Sarmiento
Temperley v Arsenal
Estudiantes v Newell’s

Episode 163: Carlos Tevez returns to the Argentina fold, and just how good are River Plate?

In episode 163 of Hand Of Pod, Sam is joined by Peter and Andrés to discuss Carlos Tevez’s return to the Argentine national team, ahead of the upcoming friendlies in England against Croatia at Upton Park and Portugal at Old Trafford. After that, we spend a good while wondering just how good this current River Plate team are, after Marcelo Gallardo’s boys beat Estudiantes 2-1 in the Copa Sudamericana on Wednesday evening to make it 29 matches unbeaten in all competitions – equalling River’s best unbeaten run of the professional era, and leaving them just two short of the longest unbeaten run in the club’s entire history. Does this say more about the current state of the Argentine league than anything else? After that, we look at the rest of the league. Listeners’ questions include just how things are going for Juan Román Riquelme’s Argentinos Juniors.

As ever, Mystic Sam’s previews for this weekend’s matches are below. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher, and follow us on Twitter.

Mystic Sam’s fourteenth round predictions
Banfield v Olimpo
Godoy Cruz v Belgrano
Gimnasia v Racing
Quilmes v Vélez
Central v Atlético de Rafaela
Tigre v Lanús
San Lorenzo v Boca
River v Estudiantes
Arsenal v Independiente
Defensa y Justicia v Newell’s

Episode 158: Martino’s first Argentina squad, a possible format change & more

The hundred and fifty-eighth episode of Hand Of Pod sees Sam and English Dan discuss Gerardo Martino’s first real Argentina squad, after he was obliged to name an AFA-imposed one for the friendly against Germany earlier this month. We discuss why Carlos Tevez wasn’t included, and what the inclusions of Erik Lamela and Javier Pastore tell us about where Martino is going with his side. The AFA are talking about reverting the format of the league back to a 20-team top flight from 2016, and we have a weekend of action to look back on including yet another River Plate victory – this time a 4-1 thrashing of third-placed Independiente (which explains why Peter was mysteriously unavailable this week).

As ever, Mystic Sam’s previews for this weekend’s matches are below. You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher, and follow us on Twitter.

Mystic Sam’s ninth round predictions
Estudiantes v Vélez
Independiente v Central
San Lorenzo v Gimnasia
Atlético de Rafaela v Olimpo
Boca v Quilmes
Tigre v Defensa y Justicia
Belgrano v Racing
Lanús v River
v Banfeld
Arsenal v Godoy Cruz

Episode 152: San Lorenzo win the Libertadores, Martino is the new Argentina boss & more

On the hundred and fifty-second episode of Hand Of Pod, Sam, Peter, Andrés and Joel are joined by Neil Clack, a former resident of Buenos Aires and author of Animals! The Story of England v Argentina, who is visiting BA again after a few years away. We’ve got a lot to talk about, starting with San Lorenzo’s first ever Copa Libertadores win on Wednesday night. We also discuss Gerardo Martino’s unveiling as Argentina manager after Alejandro Sabella stood down, Juan Sebastián Verón’s announcement that he’ll stand for the Estudiantes de La Plata presidency in September, yet more potential messing around with the league structure… oh, and the first weekend of league action, because that happened as well. It’s a long one, but we hope you’ll enjoy it.

Mystic Sam’s second round predictions are below, as ever (Newell’s v Gimnasia has already been played, and ended 1-1). You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher (or both), and follow us on Twitter.

Mystic Sam’s second round predictions
Newell’s v Gimnasia
Olimpo v Tigre
Banfield v Defensa y Justicia
Vélez v Arsenal
Estudiantes v Independiente
Quilmes v Godoy Cruz
Racing v San Lorenzo
River v Central
Belgrano v Boca
Atlético v Lanús

Episode 149: Looking back on a successful World Cup for Argentina, and where to next?

The hundred-and-forty-ninth episode of Hand Of Pod sees Sam, English Dan, Andrés and Gustavo look back on the semi-final and final of Argentina’s World Cup campaign, and on the tournament as a whole from the Argentine perspective. What went wrong, what went right, what could have better and more. We ask whether Lionel Messi had a good or a bad tournament, look at the reasons for his attacking colleagues not firing on all cylinders, and consider what might have been in the final. We also turn our attention to some names for the future, and consider how Argentina’s squad for the next World Cup, in Russia 2018, might look. At the time of posting, Alejandro Sabella hasn’t made a decision on whether or not he’ll continue in charge, but we also consider the good job he’s done so far, and ask who might take over if he does decide to go.

You can subscribe to HOP on iTunes or Stitcher, and follow us on Twitter. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks to preview the new championship.

Episode 114: Teo Gutiérrez’s never-ending transfer saga, Argentinos leading the way & more

We’re only three rounds into the season, but all the same it’s a little bizarre to be looking at a league table and seeing Argentinos Juniors on top of it. In the hundred and fourteenth episode of Hand Of Pod, Santiago sings the praises of their manager Ricardo Caruso Lombardi, Sam continues to get exasperated by River Plate’s eternal struggles to get Teo Gutiérrez registered to play, and Joel is the usual voice of calm reason. We also consider Boca Juniors’ and Estudiantes de La Plata’s improvement, why Rosario Central haven’t yet lived up to the promise of the opening weekend, and how much trouble Luis Zubeldía is in at Racing, as well as Gerardo Martino’s barely acceptable start as Barcelona manager. Listeners’ questions include whether Lionel Messi really needs to win a World Cup before he’ll be considered better than Diego Maradona.

As ever, Mystic Sam’s predictions are right below, and you can subscribe to us on iTunes if you haven’t already by clicking here.

Mystic Sam’s fourth round predictions
Belgrano v Gimnasia
Rafaela v Newell’s
Racing v Arsenal
Vélez v Lanús
Central v Godoy Cruz
Argentinos v Tigre
Olimpo v All Boys
River v Colón
Estudiantes v Boca
Quilmes v San Lorenzo

And in the remaining second round match (to be played on Tuesday)…
Newell’s v Gimnasia

Episode 112: Previewing the 2013 Torneo Inicial

The hundred-and-twelfth episode of Hand Of Pod sees Sam and Santiago reviewing the couple of weeks of transfer activity that have followed episode 111, and previewing the 2013 Torneo Inicial. First, we answer the question on everyone’s lips: ‘What is a Gerardo Martino, and why has it been chosen to manage FC Barcelona?’ after which we get into the important stuff. You know – the domestic stuff. Who have been the winners and losers in terms of players out and in? Which club have decided to get around restrictions on non-Argentine players by, erm, completely ignoring said restrictions? Can Boca possibly do any worse than they did in the first six months of the year? And how have the AFA managed to make twats of themselves since you last heard from us? Step this way, and we’ll fill you in.

As ever, you’ll find Mystic Sam’s predictions below. If you’re an Apple fan/tolerator, you can click here to subscribe to us on iTunes, and if you  want to find out how Mystic Sam does (almost) as the weekend unfolds, you can follow us on Twitter. Please. We’ll love you forever.

Mystic Sam’s first round predictions
Godoy Cruz v Argentinos
Arsenal v Estudiantes
Tigre v Vélez
All Boys
v Rafaela
Colón v Racing
Lanús v Belgrano
Central v Quilmes
San Lorenzo v Olimpo
Gimnasia v River