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Friday Football Preview: Round 4

By | [email protected] | February 19, 2016 1:19pm

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No sooner is the third round of matches behind us in this crazy Primera championship than the fourth is upon us; Saturday to Tuesday brings another 14 matches (Huracán’s game, this time away to Argentinos Juniors, is once again postponed) and the way the first three rounds have gone, there should be plenty more surprises in store. What’s more, a quick perusal of the fixture list reveals remarkably few stinkers, and a good amount of enticing matches in the next few days. So, let’s dive in…

These Ones Should Be Good

San Lorenzo v Vélez Sarsfield is the opening match of the round (Saturday, 5 PM) and is between two teams who are in good form. I’m somewhat surprised to be saying that about Vélez, which was dreadful last year, but after an opening week defeat to Sarmiento, Christian Bassedas’ management seems to have started getting the best out of a young squad. It was only Argentinos Juniors which was beaten in midweek, but the manner of the win was impressive.

Mariano Pavone grabbed two goals for Vélez away to Argentinos on Tuesday (photo via larazon.com.ar)

Mariano Pavone grabbed two goals for Vélez away to Argentinos on Tuesday (photo via larazon.com.ar)

San Lorenzo is a significantly tougher challenge, and some spice will be added by the fact that – while it’s not a clásico – these two clubs don’t especially like each other. The host has two wins and a draw so far, and the players look like they’re coming to terms with Pablo Guede’s attacking mentality. There is still a suspicion that San Lorenzo’s defense is something of a soft underbelly, though, and it hasn’t been seriously tested since the 2-2 draw with Patronato in the first round. There are goals in this one, for sure.

Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys also meet on Saturday (9:15 PM), in La Bombonera, and it’s another match that should be worth catching. Both started the year very poorly – in Newell’s case this was a continuation of their bad form throughout 2015 – and both got back to winning ways in recent days. Boca looked slightly improved (not much, but enough) in getting a 1-0 win from a tricky trip to San Juan where it took on San Martín. Newell’s, on the other hand, shrugged off defeat in Sunday’s clásico against Central by doing horrible, cruel things to Racing in a 5-0 win. One way or another, we’ll learn something from this match; can Newell’s possibly follow that jaw-dropping performance up with another win? Has Boca really managed to turn a corner? It might not necessarily turn into that good a game, but it’s going to be an interesting one given the circumstances, for sure.

Another must-watch is in Rosario, where Central – in wonderful form, with three wins from three matches – hosts River Plate (Sunday, 9:30 PM), which lost for the second match running on Thursday night. River dominated Godoy Cruz in spite of being reduced to ten men by Leonardo Pisculichi’s first half red card, but that defense continues to look shaky, and gave up two goals. Central’s forwards must be rubbing their hands together with glee, but River could use a win and will surely get its act together sooner or later.

There’s one undoubted highlight, though, and that is the clásico de Avellaneda, as Independiente hosts Racing (Sunday, 7:15 PM). Both teams need a win, having been well outplayed by the two Rosario clubs in their most recent matches, and Racing’s upcoming Copa Libertadores opener on Wednesday seems unlikely to result in a rotated squad here; this is one of the biggest derbies on the continent, after all. The atmosphere will be incredible and the teams have it in them to step up their games here. The pressure might well prevent that from happening, but Avellaneda derbies are at least almost never dull.

It’s a hard one to predict as well, with the last 10 league meetings (including those two playoffs for a Copa Libertadores spot at the end of last year) bringing five wins for Independiente and four for Racing; recent history dictates it’s unlikely to end in a draw, but actually picking a winner is a risky business. If you’re able to get access to a television shared by fans of both clubs, you shouldn’t be short of entertainment either way.

Any Matches To Avoid?

Well, Quilmes v Patronato (Monday, 7 PM) doesn’t look too promising. These teams are second and third from bottom in Group 1, and neither have managed a win yet. Patronato seem so far to have a bit more about them, but I’m not convinced this one will be worth watching in its entirety. I have similar reservations about Atlético de Rafaela v Temperley (Tuesday, 7 PM). Neither side are playing well, and the race to avoid relegation is the closest thing to intrigue I can see here.

Once again, opponents celebrate as Atlético de Rafaela players hang their heads (photo via infonews.com)

Once again, opponents celebrate as Atlético de Rafaela players hang their heads (photo via infonews.com)

After this round, we’re back to a normal schedule with Copa Libertadores matches in midweek and Primera games at the weekend. So, see you back here in a week’s time to preview round five!