Yes, another round-up. How about that, eh? From now on, there should be two each week for the Venezuelans Abroad category – one on Monday/Tuesday, the other on Friday/Saturday morning. Consider the first post an update on the past few weeks as well as an introduction to all the major players that will be featured. Future posts should be more selective, but if you are interested in any particular player who has not been mentioned, feel free to leave a comment and you should receive a quick response soon after!
So without further ado, these are the notable highlights involving Venezuelans playing outside of their homeland over the past few days:
While the likes of Arsenal and Athletic Bilbao may still be waiting another three weeks to begin their involvement in the Champions League, some of their back-room personnel may well have had an eye on the first legs of the Third Round Qualifying games that were played this week. Most significantly to us was the surprise 1-0 home victory for AEL Limassol of Cyprus over André Villas-Boas’s Zenit St. Petersburg. While the falsely billed Venezuelan Civil War never materialised (a scandal already for this site?) as neither Venezuelan played for the home side (Jonathan España was an unused substitute and Jaime Moreno was not registered to play), Salomón Rondón did get on the field for the visitors to play the final 30 minutes. Limassol’s winner came from a free-header not long after Rondón’s arrival, with what was the Cypriots’ first – and only – effort on target from a total of 3 chances (in comparison to Zenit’s 5 from 22). Shortly after, what was a manageable set-back was made somewhat more arduous as the Belgian international Axel Witsel lashed out in the 30-plus degree heat at an opponent and earned himself a red card and a suspension. Nevertheless, even without Witsel, Zenit will be the favourites going into the home leg next week, though first they must begin their league campaign
Thursday witnessed the Europa League’s Third (yes, third – keep up) Qualifying Round. Two Venezuelans were in action away to Swedish opposition, with firstly Yonathan Del Valle starting for Rio Ave and playing just over an hour in their 1-0 victory against IFK Göteborg. Fellow striker Josef Martínez also made an appearance, albeit for the last 20 minutes in Torino’s 3-0 victory against Brommapojkarna. .
Moving on to domestic league action, France’s Ligue 2 kicked off on Friday, with the Ochoa-less Ajaccio drawing 0-0 away to Arles-Avignon. Grenddy Perozo, who claims to have had offers from elsewhere but says it would take something special to tempt him away from Corsica, was an unused substitute.
Europe is still up to its eyeballs in friendlies, with teams at varying stages of their pre-season. Several of our men have been in action, starting with the French-based pair of Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (for Nantes vs. Vendée Luçon) and Juan Falcón (for FC Metz vs. Reims), who both received run-outs. Mario Rondón (CD Nacional) and, taking a break from the Swiss season, Pedro Ramírez (FC Sion) featured in higher-profile friendlies against Sunderland and Benfica, respectively. Darwin Machís gained more match-time with Granada as they drew 2-2 away to Albacete – he’s really pushing to be part of the first team set-up this year and his agent Sebastian Cano (who also represents Josef Martínez and Alexander González) believes the next fortnight will be crucial as to whether he remains in the manager’s plans. Perhaps the most significant European friendly news also came in Spain, more specifically the Madrid conurbation of Leganés where the local side have been recently promoted to the Liga Adelante. This is where Udinese’s surplus goalkeeper Rafael Romo surprisingly turned up in the past couple of days, having been the subject of speculation that he would be reunited with former national team boss Richard Páez back home. He appears to be on trial and got to work quickly, playing in a 2-0 away victory against CF Talavera. The number of Venezuelans in Spain appears to be growing at a steady rate.
The achievements of Andres Túñez need to be given more prominence this weekend. Not only has the colossus helped Buriram United go undefeated and rise to the top of the Thai Premier League but this week he also scored in the second leg of the semi-final of Thailand’s League Cup away to Ratchaburi – having already scored in the first leg. Given his achievements and the fact that in just over a month he already has three goals (with this latest one, a towering header past a hapless goalkeeper from an inswinging free-kick from the right, being nearly identical to the one in the first leg), one can not help feel that this league may be too easy for him.
Copa Mexico action this week and while Giancarlo Maldonado did not feature for Atlante, Juan Arango most certainly did for Xolos de Tijuana and assisted the last two goals in a 3-1 victory against Zacatepec from the league below. The following day, Arango reportedly said that he would not be coming on the national team’s tour of Asia in September, instead wishing to settle down in Mexico for the time being. This did not sound like an official retirement from what must be Venezuela’s finest ever player but nevertheless it is clear that Sanvicente has plenty of big decisions to make in the upcoming month and these and much more will be discussed elsewhere on this site in the future. Returning to Arango’s club form, he also featured in league action, playing 78 minutes and coming close from a free-kick in last night’s 1-1 home draw against Tigres. Xolos are yet to win in the league, though whether César Farías is panicking as much as some of the fans is unclear.
None of the four main players that will be tracked from this region (excluding Venezuela which will soon have its own column here) actually played. The two Colombia-based players, Alejandro Guerra and Luis Manuel Seijas, were left out of their sides’ cup matches though there is not much to be read into this as both Atlético Nacional and Santa Fe will both be confident of qualifying from their groups. There were no games in Chile of relevance to us, but the league resumes at the weekend.
That thus rounds up the action that occurred during the week that has not already been covered on this site and the next round-up should appear here on Monday or Tuesday morning.
If you have any further questions about events discussed or any players that have been missed out, please leave a comment below and you can be sure to get a relatively swift response!