With some rusty performances from Argentina’s first division sides last weekend – understandable after the extended break – it’s safe to say the cobwebs are now fully blown away. With 15 matches across the weekend and into Tuesday, here’s a few to keep an eye on.
Newell’s Old Boys v Vélez Sarsfield
Third-placed Newell’s go into this one on Saturday following a frustrating loss away to in-form Defensa y Justicia last week. Captain Maxi Rodriguez dubbed the defeat a “warning“, but asked supporters not to panic.
They’ll be looking to rekindle the kind of form that saw them thrash San Martín 6-1 just before the summer break, moving them up to second place in the league. However, they face a resurgent Vélez side who grabbed a last-minute winner to beat Estudiantes 3-2 last Friday.
Mariano Pavone was the hero last weekend for El Fortín and has been cleared fit to play tomorrow, despite an initial injury scare. He’ll be hoping to carry his team to another victory and another step away from the foot of the table.
Kick-off: 17:00, Saturday March 18th
Godoy Cruz v San Lorenzo
El Tomba finished second in the table last season, yet currently sit in a hopeless 17th position. San Lorenzo now sit second in the table, but considering both teams’ most recent results, Godoy Cruz will fancy their chances.
The team from Mendoza started their Copa Libertadores campaign steadily, but the same can certainly not be said for their opponents. El Ciclón went down 4-0 to Brazil’s Flamengo in their first fixture, while on Wednesday night they lost their second 1-0 to Atlético Paranaense. They did get a manage a win last weekend though, albeit against second-from-bottom Belgrano.
Their dip in form may have something to do with the fact that they lost Emmanuel Mas, Sebastián Blanco and Martín Cauteruccio in the summer’s transfer window, three players who contributed, through goals and assists, to 30 of their 49 goals in second semester of 2016. They’re certainly in a rut, and if they want to keep up with Boca in first or even have a hope of reaching the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores, they’re going to need goals from somewhere.
This one could either see two sides go at it with the intent to get their seasons back up and running – or, we could be in for a goalless snooze fest. Fingers crossed it’s the former.
Kick-off: 17:15, Sunday March 19th
Estudiantes v Patronato
While this match up doesn’t seem too appetizing at first glance, there’s actually more up for grabs than you might expect.
Estudiantes are fourth in the table and on a bad run, having lost five of their last six league matches. They started the season well and ended up in the top three going into the summer break, largely thanks to a fairly kind run of fixtures in the first half of the season.
Entre Rios province’s Patronato, meanwhile, sit in thirteenth – which, surprisingly, is only six points behind their opponents. Should they win – and they might, given their 4-2 win over Arsenal last weekend – they could go as high as 8th, while Estudiantes could tumble down the table to as low as 7th.
Kick-off: 17:15, Sunday March 19th
Elsewhere, Boca will look to strengthen their position at the top in their first game back at La Bombonera, against mid-table Talleres de Córdoba. Racing will feel confident in continuing their good run away at Belgrano, while Atletico Tucumán take on Aldosivi on Monday. Lanús will face River on Tuesday night.