It might feel like the season has barely begun but a quarter of the league campaign is already gone. And if you’re wondering how it went by that quickly, consider this – after this weekend, we’ll already be a third of the way through the season, for all intents and purposes! Crazy, right? This weekend isn’t as jam-packed with attractive fixtures as round four was, but there are still a few to look out for and, as ever, a few to politely turn down if your other half’s family asks whether you’d like control of the TV remote during the weekend asado. Step this way…
Just Give Friday A Miss, To Be Honest
There are only two Primera matches on Friday, and frankly neither of them look especially attractive. Newell’s Old Boys v Unión (7:15 PM) is a duel of teams from Santa Fe Province (Newell’s is from Rosario, as you quite probably already knew, and Unión is from the city of Santa Fe itself), but it’s not a clásico and neither is it being played between teams in especially good form. Newell’s did thrash Racing 5-0 in its last home game, true … but that was followed up with a 4-1 capitulation to Boca Juniors last weekend. Unión on the other hand is already giving me the impression that it’s going to be a draw specialist, just like last year.
The other Friday match looks a bit more interesting, thanks to the presence of Godoy Cruz, which visits Banfield (9:15 PM). Banfield hasn’t won – or looked especially good – since the opening weekend, but Godoy Cruz has drawn with Independiente, beaten River Plate away and then thrashed Colón last time out – and Colón, remember, had three wins from three before heading to Mendoza. The Mendoza outfit has a habit of significant squad turnovers in between seasons, and some years that works better for it than others. 2016 appears to be one of the better years, so far, but I’m not convinced Banfield will provide interesting enough opposition to make this an attractive excuse to stay in on Friday night.
This Weekend’s Clásico Is A Tasty One, Though …
The inter-group rivalry match this weekend sees Huracán finally return to the domestic fixture list. Huracán already returned to some sort of football, although it wasn’t happy about having to play its Copa Libertadores group stage opener on Tuesday night a mere three weeks after that coach crash on the way to Caracas airport in which two players picked up injuries (I guess no one at Huracán has heard what happened to Manchester United in February 1958, after which it still completed its fixtures as scheduled). Both Huracán and San Lorenzo lost 2-0 on Tuesday in the Libertadores, though Huracán’s defeat was at home to Atlético Nacional, whereas San Lorenzo’s was away at high altitude to Liga de Quito.
All the same, this should be an entertaining clásico because the form book really went flying out of the window last time these teams met. Last year, Huracán was recently promoted back to the top flight and playing, quite frankly, dreadfully in most of its league matches. San Lorenzo ended the 2015 Primera in second position; Huracán finished it in twenty-third. But it was Huracán, in Parque Patricios (where this weekend’s game will be played on Saturday at 7:15 PM), which dealt the fatal blow to San Lorenzo’s title hopes, grabbing a 1-0 win which was its first win in six matches and San Lorenzo’s first defeat in fourteen. Oh, sure, San Lorenzo won the first derby of last year pretty comfortably in the Nuevo Gasómetro, but the more recent meeting was a fine example of the old derby day cliché. Neither side have shown a particular aptitude for defending so far in 2016, either (granted, Huracán haven’t played many matches), so there could be goals in this one, too.
Keep An Eye Out For The Other Grandes Too
The other tasty matches involve the rest of the Big Five – though on this occasion that’s not just an easy way of working out which ones to recommend. Racing v Boca Juniors (Sunday, 7:15 PM) is a meeting of teams who will have hoped to start the year better than they’ve managed, but have shown some green shoots of revival lately; Boca in its 4-1 tonking of Newell’s last weekend and Racing in the 4-1 win over Bolívar in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday night, which was a fine way of following up that spectacular late equaliser in last weekend’s derby against Independiente (see video below). Boca’s players might be a little tired – they’ve been to Colombia and back in the Copa this week, and got a good kicking from Deportivo Cali for their troubles – but this should be an intriguing one. Plus it’s always worth watching Racing with its young Paraguay playmaker Oscar Romero in such outstanding form.
The other two don’t play until Monday, because of River Plate’s Libertadores trip to Venezuela on Friday night. River will have taken heart from a 4-0 win over Trujillanos, which must have helped breed some confidence in defense after the chaotic 3-3 draw with Rosario Central last weekend. It hosts Independiente (Monday, 9:15 PM), which will be fresher, but needs a decent result itself to pick itself up after that clásico equaliser from Racing. There should be goals in this one, because both teams like to get forward and neither, to be honest, is all that good at defending.
Also Don’t Miss
Rosario Central is also always an entertaining watch, and after its late scrambled 1-1 draw at home to Nacional on Thursday in the Libertadores, it visits Colón (Sunday, 5 PM). Colón lost its 100% record in spectacular fashion away to Godoy Cruz last week, so there’s pressure on both teams here; can Colón get back to winning ways, or at least impress? Can Central show it can cope with the fixture congestion brought on by the Copa?
A lot of the other matches look more underwhelming this time round – that’s just the way the fixture list cookie has crumbled – but if previous rounds this year are anything to go by we’re going to see plenty of golazos and crazy matches anyway. Just enjoy whichever ones you watch (but stay away from Olimpo v Arsenal at 7:15 PM on Sunday. I can’t see how anyone’s going to come out of that looking good).