One day there will be proper headlines as well as embedded images and videos in these updates but for now, given the time-constraints, minor health problems and other excuses nobody wishes to hear about, readers will have to settle for these rudimentary dispatches. Bear with this for the time being and rewards will be reaped in the long-term as we will all blossom with knowledge and experience together. Thus, rampaging forward we shall go with the last few days’ worth of news and highlights relating to the the prominent Venezuelan players who make their livings away from their homeland:
In the last update, the exploits of Buriram United’s Andres Túñez in Thailand were bumped up the running order and owing to the increased recognition of his achievements over the weekend, he is afforded the privilege of kicking off this week’s column. Indeed, Marca, the internationally renowned Madrid-based football newspaper, ran a feature on the former Celta Vigo man that detailed how since leaving Galicia in the summer, his reputation has attained almost stratospheric levels – at least within Thailand. The article keenly reports his accomplishments on the field, as since his arrival less than two months ago, Buriram have gone undefeated and are now two points clear at the top of the table, not to mention in the League Cup final (thanks in no small part to two semi-final goals from El Gladiador). Local fans have really taken to him, bestowing upon him an iconic status that has been aided by the face-mask that he has worn since he broke his nose in his first match in the country. Remarkably, 5,233 replicas of this mask have been purchased by supporters to show their appreciation. Regarding his on-field contribution at the weekend, Túñez played the full 90 minutes and, needless to say, Buriram United ran out comfortable winners as they defeated Suphanburi 4-0. He can be in little doubt that Sanvicente is keeping note of such performances.
The latest league of relevance to be inaugurated in the Old Continent was the Russian Premier League, where Zenit St. Petersburg were one of four teams to dish out thrashings by a four-goal margin. AVB’s men delivered their particular pummelling away to Arsenal Tula, with Venezuela’s finest finisher Salomón Rondón returning to the line-up and scoring the second goal after 18 minutes. He confidently lashed home a low cross from Hulk, who deserves praise for his driving charge up the inside-right and then running onto Danny’s one-two that allowed him the space to provide the service for Rondón – not to mention for this venomous firecracker that put his side 3-0 up. Rondón was later taken off for Alexander Kerzhakov, the man who started ahead of him in the first leg of the Champions League Qualifier against AEL Limassol – but who will get the nod for this week’s crucial return leg?
Elsewhere in competitive action, Alexander González was the only one of the Switzerland-based contingent to make it onto the field over the weekend as his side, FC Thun, lost to a late goal in a 3-2 home defeat to Paulo Sousa’s Basle. González started the game but was withdrawn with just over an hour played as Thun were chasing the game with the score at 2-1. Whilst he was on the pitch, he played in an advanced position on the left of midfield and almost netted for the first time this season as a giddy rampage into the area culminated in a left-footed strike that hit the underside of the bar and bounced just the wrong side of the goal-line.
Moving on to the summary of friendlies, there can be no more triumphant place to start than with Málaga, home of summer signing Roberto Rosales and youth product Juan Pablo Añor. However their respective seasons pan out, nobody can take away from them the silverware they deservedly earned in the two-day Schalke 04 Cup tournament that occurred this weekend. Indeed, irrespective of the timing and perceived nature of these matches, there can be no doubt that Málaga were comfortably the best team of the four, as they made light work of both Newcastle United (3-1) and then West Ham United (2-0). Añor came on as a second-half substitute in both games and while he may have largely been subdued in what amounted to a water-carrying role as he played many short and safe midfield passes, he did this with a certain grace, poise and confidence that spoke of a man who did not look daunted by the step up in quality. Nevertheless, this competition certainly exhibited Málaga’s strength in depth, so however many minutes on the pitch he manages to enjoy with the first-team this year, he can certainly be proud of every single one of them. Regarding Rosales, he missed the first game but played the entirety of the West Ham match from the right-back position. It has to be said that his day will give he and his manager cause for reflection as while he may have helped to keep a clean sheet and played a part in the second goal with an attacking run, he faced problems from winger Matt Jarvis throughout the match. Indeed, on the British television coverage, commentator John Roder remarked on several occasions that Jarvis ‘has the beating of Rosales all day long’, as the former Gillingham man repeatedly outpaced him on the outside to put in crosses and force his way into the box. With a better target man – say, a fit Andy Carroll – the outcome may have been somewhat different. However, while this may be reading too much into one performance, Rosales can nevertheless take heart from the incontrovertible fact that were he to prove more convincing in his offensive play than his defensive, this alone would certainly be no barrier to success in La Liga (see Marcelo and Dani Alves).
Moving on to a rapid recap of the remaining friendlies: Oswaldo Vizcarrondo played the majority of Nantes’ 0-0 draw with Atalanta (penalties were played – the Italians won), though Fernando Aristeguieta missed out again through injury and it is unknown whether he will be fit for the start of the season this weekend. Tomás Rincón put on the Genoa shirt for the first time, coming off the bench with 18 minutes remaining in a 1-0 defeat against Bastia – former Tottenham man Iago Falque also made his non-competitive debut. For the second game in a row, Juan Falcón came on as a half-time substitute for FC Metz, this time proving pivotal to the outcome as he set up an 89th-minute winner against Evian. Franco Signorelli, another man hoping to make an impact in his debut season in the top-flight of a major European league, featured in the first-half of Empoli’s 0-0 draw with Ponsacco, last year’s Serie D champions. Both Jeffrén Suárez and Dani Hernández played in the first half of Real Valladolid’s 1-0 defeat to Real Oviedo, which will be particularly beneficial to the latter, whose future at the club has appeared uncertain at times over the summer. Darwin Machís and Josmar Zambrano played on opposing sides in Granada’s 2-0 away victory over Recreativo de Huelva, with Machís scoring the second goal just before the break and helping to boost his case for a regular place in the match-day squad. Zambrano may or may not take heart from the fact that he emerged onto the field in the second half, after which no further goals were conceded. Fernando Amorebieta played the opening hour of Fulham’s late 1-0 victory over Çaykur Rizespor of the Turkish top-flight, which appears to have quietened – for the time being, at least – the rumours of an alleged imminent departure.
On a related note, this section ends with some transfer news. Rafael Romo, who only recently turned up somewhat unannounced in a friendly outing for Spanish side CD Leganés, has today finalised a deal to take him back to Venezuela to be reunited at Mineros de Guayana with former national manager Richard Páez. This move has been rumoured for a while and is believed to be a loan from Udinese.
Emilio Rentería has hit the headlines again, putting in another stellar performance as he scored the first from a rebound and assisted the second with a cross in San Marcos’s 2-1 victory over Unión Española. He has since been speaking to the press stating, amongst other things, that he would relish the opportunity to return to the national side and prove himself, particularly to Noel Sanvicente, who managed him at Caracas FC. The other two players in this region who took to the field over the weekend were the Colombia-based pair of Alejandro Guerra and Luis Manuel Seijas. Guerra played the remaining 25 minutes of Atlético Nacional’s 1-1 away draw with Alianza Petrolera, whereas Seijas played on the left of midfield for Santa Fe in the entirety of their 0-0 away draw with Patriotas FC. Despite this point earned, he may feel that his side should have picked up all three points as just after the hour mark his Argentine team-mate Omar Pérez hit a poor penalty that was easily saved down the middle.
News from this continent is shorter than usual this week as Juan Arango played on Friday in a game that has been covered in the preceding update and Bernardo Añor did not feature at all in Columbus Crew’s 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire. Giancarlo Maldonado did, however, play the entirety of Atlante’s game at the weekend, though could not prevent them from being defeated 4-2 by Alebrijes. If you feel starved of Vinotinto action in this particular region then the best that can be offered to you is a resigned shrug along with the fleeting footage of Maldonado urgently bundling over the opposition goalkeeper when attempting to retrieve the ball after Atlante pull a goal back to make it 2-1.
That concludes the round-up of the last few days of action but if you have any further questions about events discussed or any players that have been neglected, please leave a comment below and you can be sure to get a relatively swift response!