Caught your breath from the weekend football yet? Well, take a deep gulp of air because it’s time to submerge yourself again! The matches come thick and fast this week, as Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday bring us the only midweek round of league action during the transitional championship, so here’s a one-off Friday Tuesday preview!
What To See:
All eyes will be on the Estadio Libertadores de América on Wednesday evening (7:15 PM) when Independiente hosts Rosario Central. El Rojo was frustrated away to Godoy Cruz in Mendoza on Friday night, only drawing 1-1, but the players know they’re better than that result suggested. This is the first of a run of awkward fixtures for Mauricio Pellegrino’s team; Independiente hosts hated rivals Racing over the weekend and will face River Plate away the following week. That impending clásico might tempt Pellegrino to rest a few players here to keep them fresh for Racing, but that could be a mistake.
Central has started as well as it left off last year; efficient on the opening weekend in beating Godoy Cruz, it was very impressive indeed a few days ago, getting a 2-0 win over Newell’s Old Boys in the Rosario derby which could have finished in a much more one-sided scoreline. One of only two teams in Group A with maximum points from two matches (Colón is the other), Central is going to be a real force this year and this match, even so early in the campaign, will provide a big indicator of which team’s title hopes are more realistic.
That isn’t the only match that looks interesting, though – and some of the others would have been rather surprising a couple of weeks ago. In Group A, Colón v Belgrano (Thursday, 7 PM) sees the early group leader at home to the team who took on and got a deserved win against River on Sunday night. Colón has been sharp so far, beating Arsenal and then thrashing Quilmes 4-2 away on Friday, but this is where things start to pick up, standard-wise. The teams Colón has beaten so far aren’t on the same level as Belgrano, which is better than it showed in its opening weekend defeat in the pouring rain away to Independiente. Confidence can work wonders, though, so it’s going to be fascinating to see whether Colón can keep its own standards up as its opponents get harder.
Atlético Tucumán v Unión (Thursday, 9:15 PM) would have looked like a relegation scrap before the start of the season – and it still might prove to be one. The home team is sky-high, though, with two wins from its opening two matches – matches it must have feared would pass without any points gained (at home to Racing and away to Boca Juniors). If it can get another win here, it could have taken a huge step towards safety already, given that only one team will go down at the end of this campaign.
The other ones to catch? Racing has been frustrating so far, only managing one point from two matches, but away (on Wednesday, 5 PM) to a demoralized and managerless Newell’s which has just been played off the pitch by clásico rival Central, the Academia ought to be able to step things up. Signs of improvement seem less forthcoming for Boca Juniors. The champion was beaten in its own stadium by Atlético Tucumán on Sunday, and scarcely believably Rodolfo Arruabarrena remains in charge – at least for this match – in spite of reports last week that it had been agreed he’d lose his job if the team failed to beat Tucumán. Away to San Martín (Wednesday, 9:15 PM) it should have an interesting game. It’s certainly an absolutely crucial one.
Things aren’t do-or-die for River Plate, but Sunday’s loss to Belgrano raised some questions (not least about Marcelo Gallardo’s decision to put Emanuel Mammana in the reserves when the first team was desperately short at center back), so a good result back on its own turf against Godoy Cruz (Thursday, 9:15 PM) will be the least the fans expect.
Banfield v Quilmes (Tuesday, 5 PM) is likely to be low quality but, to be honest, will probably be pretty entertaining anyway with both teams at least looking open so far. Given the kick off time you’ll probably miss it anyway, but if you’ve got the option of having it on in the corner of the office/café, it shouldn’t be too bad to pass the time. The late match on Tuesday, Argentinos Juniors v Vélez Sarsfield (9:30 PM) is definitely not one to reserve the television for, though. Vélez might have won at the weekend, but that wasn’t through any real quality of its own, and Argentinos is a pretty uninspiring outfit as well. There’s likely to be a lot of long ball from the host and a lot of indecisive messing about from the visitor.
That’s your lot for the midweek round, but join us again on Friday for a more usually-timed weekend preview!