Episode 129: ¡San Lorenzo campeón!, Lanús claim the Sudamericana, and a general Inicial round-up

The hundred-and-twenty-ninth episode of Hand Of Pod is also the last of 2013, and Sam is joined by English Dan and Joel to look back over a Torneo Inicial that was settled in an entirely predictable manner; with all four of the title hopefuls failing to win, meaning San Lorenzo took the trophy by default with the lowest points total of the three-points-for-a-win era. Lanús have the consolation of the Copa Sudamericana, only the third major trophy in their history (and the second in the last six years), whilst River Plate, Boca Juniors, Racing and the rest of the pre-season supposed title hopefuls could only look on enviously. We consider Colón’s woeful last few months, look at how Independiente are going at the halfway point of their campaign in the B, and Joel gives us the lowdown on Rodolfo D’Onofrio, who as of Tuesday is the new president of River Plate, having won Sunday’s elections by a resounding margin. It only remains for us to say thanks for listening during 2013, merry Christmas if you’re celebrating it, and we look forward to entertaining (or at least bothering) you all again in 2014.

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Episode 128: Still no wiser about the champions, Lanús’ Sudamericana hopes & Colón in crisis update

The hundred-and-twenty-eighth episode of Hand Of Pod was recorded two days before the start of the final round of league fixtures, and we still have no idea who out of San Lorenzo, Lanús, Newell’s Old Boys and Vélez Sarsfield are going to be champions – Vélez host San Lorenzo and Newell’s host Lanús in the last round, but those matches won’t be played until Sunday the 15th. That’s due to Lanús’ participation in the Copa Sudamericana final (they drew the first leg 1-1 shortly after we recorded this episode). We also look at Racing’s continuing improvement, San Lorenzo bottling the job against Estudiantes, a five goal thriller between Gimnasia and Quilmes, and give updates on the situations at Colón (who could be forcibly relegated) and Independiente (going well in the B). The next episode of Hand Of Pod won’t be until after the league season is finally over, the week starting the 16th December.

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Mystic Sam’s final round predictions
Belgrano v All Boys (already finished – Belgrano won)
Racing v Godoy Cruz (already finished – Racing won)
Rafaela v Arsenal
Argentinos v Central
Boca v Gimnasia
Estudiantes v Tigre
Quilmes v River
Olimpo v Colón

Episode 127: Racing’s upturn in form, River & Boca have problems, and who’s going to win the title?

In the hundred-and-twenty-seventh episode of Hand Of Pod, Sam, Andrés and guest Ilan are invited round to English Dan’s swish new pad. We discuss the fallout of last weekend’s clásico, which saw Racing beat River Plate 1-0, and look at how and why the title frontrunners dropped points yet again (to be fair to them, in four cases it’s because they were playing each other). We also bring the latest from the situation in Santa Fe, where Colón are in danger of being de-affiliated from the AFA, ask whether Ramón Díaz and Carlos Bianchi are really the best managers for River and Boca Juniors, and basically teach ourselves during the recording who All Boys’ new manager Ricardo Rodríguez – who started with a 2-0 win in La Bombonera – is. Oh, and there’s news of the first Swiss person ever to score a competitive goal in the Argentine league. Since this episode was recorded, Lanús have advanced to the final of the Copa Sudamericana, where they’ll play Ponte Preta.

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

Episode 126: Colón in crisis, another weekend of shocks, and a six-way title race

In the hundred-and-twenty-sixth episode of Hand Of Pod, Sam, Andrés and Santi are joined by Rob Brown, an Englishman who’s in Buenos Aires for a few months almost entirely in order to watch Juan Román Riquelme play. We discuss another weekend of surprising results and exciting matches – not least a five goal thriller in Sarandí, where Santi and Rob watched Arsenal beat Boca Juniors 3-2 – and look at crisis club Colón, whose players refused to turn up for their match against Atlético de Rafaela on Monday. Some of Colón’s players are owed wages going back as far as a year, and the affair has cost club president (and Julio Grondona associate) Germán Lerche his position; he resigned after the fracas on Monday. We also ask how much worse River Plate can get, before considering a thrilling six-way title run-in (San Lorenzo, Newell’s Old Boys, Arsenal, Boca Juniors, Lanús and even Rafaela all have a decent shot at the trophy) and looking back on Argentina’s international friendlies in the USA, among other topics.

As usual, Mystic Sam’s predictions are just below. Click here if you’d like to subscribe to us on iTunes.

Mystic Sam’s seventeenth round predictions:
Vélez v Godoy Cruz
Argentinos v Quilmes
Olimpo v Central
Rafaela v San Lorenzo
Lanús v Gimnasia
Newell’s v Arsenal
Boca v All Boys
Racing v River
Belgrano v Tigre
Estudiantes v Colón (if it goes ahead)

Episode 125: We are 3; Lanús on the title charge, and Racing are rubbish again

The 125th episode of Hand Of Pod was recorded on our third birthday, and Andrés and Sam raise a glass to that fact before getting stuck in to last weekend’s action, which saw Boca Juniors make up some ground on the top two, Newell’s Old Boys and San Lorenzo, after they’d drawn against each other. The biggest winners of the last few weeks, though, have been Copa Sudamericana semi-finalists Lanús, who might just have a tilt at the title. We check out the run-ins that each of the top five have with four matches of the season remaining, and ask whether Atlético de Rafaela could possibly be candidates as well (answer: no). There’s another chance to moan about how crap River Plate are, and a celebration of the fact that Vélez Sarsfield’s elimination from the Copa Sudamericana last week means South American football’s not bent after all. What better birthday present could we ask for?

We’d like to thank everyone who’s supported us and listened to us over the last three years – it’s hugely appreciated. As ever, Mystic Sam’s predictions for the sixteenth round are below. If you’d like to subscribe to HOP on iTunes, you can click here.

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

Episode 123: Maradona’s birthday, Giunta’s balls, and a lot of very angry people

The hundred-and-twenty-third episode of Hand Of Pod was recorded on Diego Maradona’s 53rd birthday, and after giving that fact the amount of coverage it deserves, we move on to a review of the last two rounds of Torneo Inicial action. Central shocked Newell’s in the clásico rosarino, River Plate still can’t score and Manu Gigliotti’s in fine form for Boca Juniors. Oh, and RACING HAVE WON A MATCH! Former Arsenal (de Woolwich) player, and now former Quilmes manager, Nelson Vivas clocked a fan and has been replaced by big-balled ‘Argentine Ferguson’ Blas Giunta, and a lot of other people have been getting very aggressive indeed in Argentine stadia. For once, it’s mostly players, not barras. There’s also time to consider whether River Plate goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero really deserves an Argentina call-up, and the amount of attention Mauricio Pochettino’s English managerial exploits are getting in Argentina (short answer: zero).

As ever, you’ll find Mystic Sam’s predictions for the coming weekend just below, and as ever, don’t forget you can subscribe to us on iTunes if you’re one of the 7.something billion people who haven’t yet done so.

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

Episode 122: A World Cup qualifying roundup, previewing the Rosario derby and more

The hundred-and-twenty-second episode of Hand Of Pod gave us a lot to talk about, and it was quite an achievement to have got the final thing down to an hour and a half. Santi hosts in his new home for the first time, and Sam is also joined by German/Chinese/Relevant Dan and HOP debutant Jonathan Gilbert, author of a recent New York Times piece previewing this weekend’s clásico rosarino. We discuss Argentina’s World Cup qualifying campaign and what they need to improve between now and Brazil 2014, before looking back over a weekend of surprises in the league and asking whether Newell’s Old Boys already have the title sewn up. As already mentioned, Newell’s play their bitter enemies Rosario Central this weekend, and we also preview the return to the Primera  of perhaps the country’s most passionate derby.

As ever, Mystic Sam’s predictions are below. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to us on iTunes (other podcast services are available).

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