12 March, 2008

Obscure South American of the Week

Name – Lisandro Lopez

Affiliation - FC Porto

Reason for coolness – He often celebrates goals by pulling out the corner flag and pretending to fire it like a machine gun. That’s gangsta.

Reason for obscurity – I guess it’s kind of just assumed these days that anyone decent from the Portuguese league has already been snapped up by a Spanish side, so there’s no real point in watching it. However, while Porto might not be the same Deco-inspired side that triumphed under Mourinho, they are still a very decent attacking outfit with flair down both wings and Lisandro as it’s cutting edge.

Hailing from Argentina, Lisandro started his career with Racing Club in the national top flight, quickly earning a reputation for being a hard-working forward who could play wide or down the middle. Finishing top scorer in the 2004 Apertura tournament, (see previous entries for an explanation of Argentine season format) he understandably attracted attention from all over Europe, with Arsenal linked at one point too. Faced with the final difficult decision between Charlton and Porto though, Lisandro strangely chose the Portuguese champions for a small fee of 2.5 million, and helped them retain their crown the next two subsequent seasons.

It is this current year however that Lisandro has really started to draw attention, functioning superbly as a central striker with a record this season of more than a goal in every other game across all competitions. What’s strange is that Lisandro isn’t really that quick, or that strong, or even that good running with the ball at his feet. He is simply a natural striker with a great sense of positioning and anticipation, feeding off the superlative service of Porto midfield stars Ricardo Quaresmo and Lucho Gonzalez. His approach in front of goal is a simple, old-fashioned one, as he is able to make the most of his ability to somehow effortlessly turn defenders and hit the top corners with power time and time again. His goal this week in the Champions League against Schalke was a textbook Lisandro finish actually; tight hold up play and turn, followed up by an early-taken rocket past the excellent Neuer:

Unfortunately Porto are now out of the competition so that’s basically all you’re gonna see of Lisandro this year. However, if this form continues and he ends the season with more than 20 league goals as expected, do not be surprised to see him staring alongside Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi for Argentina in the very near future, after already popping up as a substitute a couple of times during the 2006 World Cup qualification campaign. Peep some skills and a literal hatful of goals for Porto here -