Primera Division Preview: Week 10 (Oct 8-11)
Estudiantes defends the top position early on Friday's night as the rest of the candidates struggle to reduce Pincha's advantage.
It's been a surprising first half for the Apertura. Estudiantes has shown to be one of Argentina's strongest teams during the last years and their regularity has granted them the top position with 22 points, five points above every runner-up.
Avellaneda's derby Independiente vs Racing will surely be this week's most exciting clash, but Roberto Sensini's Newell's Old Boys are to be taken into consideration: The Lepras' confidence received a huge boost in midweek by defeating Union San Jose for the Copa Sudamericana 6-0.
Banfield's visit to Sarandi also on Friday will have a great impact on the table standings: A draw won't be enough for any of them to keep up with Estudiantes' pace. Who'll jeopardize Pinchas' leadership by Monday?
It's been a rather successful month for Estudiantes. Since Alejandro Sabella's boys were eliminated from the Copa Sudamericana they could focus on the Apertura's fight. They defeated Gimnasia in La Plata's derby and have now opened a five point advantage from Velez and Arsenal, their main followers.
Gaston Fernandez has returned to the starting squad and his versatility in the offense multiplies Estudiantes' points of attack. He scored a delightful goal last week and will now be able to count with Juan Sebastian Veron's assistance in the midfield. Estudiantes' most experienced midfielder provides the experience needed to overcome a recent newcomer from the first minute on.
But not everything is a sheet of roses for Estudiantes' coach: Rodrigo Braña is experiencing intense pain in his right foot and the Chapu might not be ready to perform against Olimpo.
Braña's absence will make some room for Gabriel Peñalba in the starting squad. He lead Argentinos towards Clausura's title but has not had many opportunities in Estudiantes. This is a golden opportunity for Peñalba to show his worth, and he should not let it go to waste: He's got a lot of skills that could surely strengthen Estudiantes' playing, but it might take more than one single match to understand the inner workings of the team.
The visitors are becoming more and more compromised with the relegation fight as the weeks go by and it's unlikely they'd be able to return home victorious from La Plata. Olimpo has lost the last five matches they've played, and a sixth defeat might be more than Omar De Felippe's boys can handle.
One of the strangest modifications for this game is the presence of Matías Ibáñez between the posts instead of Laureano Tombolini. Three main defenders return to the starting squad, wingers Eduardo Casais and Cristian Villanueva and central defender Marcelo Mosset.
Friday's late game features Arsenal against Banfield at the Viaducto. One of the hosts' main strength is their defense, having received only five goals in the first 9 matches. But one of the pillars of Sarandi's defense -Juan Krupoviesa- is ruled out with injuries, making room for Damián Pérez.
"Banfield is a perfectly arranged team, with highly experienced players. We'll have to be really focused and pay constant attention. We have to keep our goal shut, and trust on the efficiency of our strikers" declared Arsenal's defender Lisandro Lopez.
The Drill are once again living a dual life and fighting both for the Argentinean League as well as for the American glory. Banfield occupies the 9th position in the standings with 14 points but could climb up to the 2nd position upon a victory and some assistance from their neighbors.
Julio Cesar Falcioni does not like to introduce many modifications from one week to another, as he believes the players have to get to know each other on the field to make the best out of each other. But a number oh physical problems forced Banfield's coach to try different alternatives.
Luckily for him, Marcelo Carrusca, Julio Barraza and Federico Sardella are ready to return to the starting squad, and they'll surely be given a chance to recover his best level prior to visiting Deportivo Tolima in midweek.
But Taladro's coach didn't want to reveal much information about his strategy. Mauro Dos Santos, won't be able to perform, suffering a skull traumatism. Alejandro Delfino will be his substitute, and he'll have to deal with Arsenal's asphyxiating midfielder. Will the Taladro be able to return home with three decisive points to catch up with Estudiantes at the top?
It's been over a month since Huracan celebrated its last victory. Miguel Brindisi is aware this is a perfect opportunity to make up for the lost time and start adding units to avoid the relegation fight. All Boys have not been defeated in the last five matches and should not let this six-pointer for the relegation fight get out of their hands.
All Boys' main weakness has been their defense, and things will be even more now tense with Emanuel Perea and Luciano Vella ruled out with injuries. Both teams have score only four goals in the tournament while receiving 11 and 8 goals respectively. Matias Rudler, of great performance during week's training is likely to be given an opportunity within the starting squad.
Fernando Sánchez returns to the team and his vast experience in the midfield will surely come in handy against Brindisi's Globos. Watch out for Sebastian Grazzini, Albo's captain and most dangerous player.
Huracan's manager will have to do without Kevin Cura, unable to perform suffering a muscular distension. Young Alejandro Quintana might be the chosen one to lead the advance from the right wing, joining Gustavo Machin and Federico Nieto against All Boys' goal.
This game will be of vital importance for both teams, eager to abandon the bottom fight and focus on the title's chase. Who will bag the victory?
San Lorenzo could not maintain the leadership of the Apertura, and the last two defeats brought the Cuervos to the sixth position, seven points away from the top. Estudiantes inflicted aggravated wounds in San Lorenzo upon last week's victory, and only another triumph could help them overcome this adverse situation.
Luis Zubeldia's Granas have straightened their path towards the top, for after suffering two sound defeats (4-1 against Godoy Cruz and 4-0 against Racing) Lanus has bagged the full scoring in two consecutive matches against All Boys and Boca Juniors. The winner will be able to leapfrog any other candidate and get a little closer to Estudiantes, undisputed leader of the Apertura.
Granas' coach received big news on Thursday as Mario Regueiro and Luciano Balbi recover just on time from their injuries and will be an integral part of Zubeldia's scheme. Lanus' goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin declared regarding this clash "If we want to fight for the title we must win this game. San Lorenzo is a tough rival, Boca juniors was difficult too and we made it. I hope we can claim the three points" he said.
Silvio Romero and Gonzalo Castillejos will have to deal with San Lorenzo's experienced defense, and the visitors have performed better playing away than at the Nuevo Gasometro. Parque Patricios will host one of the most exciting matches of the week, who will claim the three points?
Clausura's reigning champion Argentinos Juniors is struggling to survive the Apertura's fight, standing at the 15th position with only nine points. Godoy Cruz's coach Omar Asad is once again leading the Tombas forces and his efforts could be rewarded with a ticket for the Copa Libertadores as long as Godoy Cruz continues its upwards path.
Argentinos' captain Nestor Ortigoza has finally recovered from his injuries and will return to the team in a moment of great need. Ortigoza is a highly tactical player with strong ball recovery skills, and for that reason Pedro Troglio is thinking on adopting a 3-5-2 defensive formation with strong presence on the wings to render Godoy Cruz's midfield hopeless in the Paternal. "We can lose everything, but our attitude will fall last" added Argentinos' captain.
"I'm very proud of my boys" stated Omar Asad when asked about the performance of his team. Team's top striker David Ramirez -sent off two weeks ago- returns to the team and Godoy Cruz's coach has decided he'll be taking over defender Roberto Russo's place, modifying team's formation to a 3-3-2-2 to take full advantage of Jairo Castillo and Luis Salinas' gunner skills.
"We're naturally bond to the attack" said Tomba's midfielder Diego Villar. "I'm in excellent form, and my fellow team mates make me feel really comfortable in the team. I recognize we're all doing things extremely well. This makes it easier to play quick, interact and dare for the goal" he added.
Argentinos needs the three points badly to leave the bottom fight and Godoy Cruz could only keep up with the title's race upon a victory. Who will succeed at the Diego Armando Maradona?
Newell's shining present will have them taking on Quilmes' Brewers in Rosario. Roberto Sensini's boys sound victory against San Jose for the Copa Sudamericana makes it possible for the Lepras to fight for both the Apertura's title and the American glory. Hugo Tocalli's Quilmes, on the other hand, are still struggling to celebrate their first victory in the tournament.
Diego Mateo has become one of Newell's main engines in the tournament, communicating with the offense and assisting with the defense constantly. Ivan Borghello's awakening has turned the Lepras into an aggressive powerhouse, building strong links with Mauro Formica on the attack.
Quilmes' defense weakens with Charles Aránguiz's absence, struggling with injury, but it's been confirmed he'll be traveling to Rosario and might be able to perform at least for some minutes. Last week against Arsenal the Brewers played one of their best matches in the competition, but their efficiency in the last meters was far from satisfactory.
Newell's will be exhausted by their Sudamericana duties and Tocalli's boys should take advantage of this to bag the three points. Sensini's Newell's depend on the victory to remain as a candidate for the Apertura, will they have what it takes to fight in two fronts at the same time?
The derby of Avellaneda will surely be one of the hottest matches of the week. Independiente and Racing have lost every hope of fighting for the title and all they've left in the tournament is defeating their eternal rival.
Independiente's new coach Antonio Mohammed will use a 4-3-1-2 formation to take better advantage of the speed of Rojos' wingers (Lucas Mareque and Julian Velazquez) and overwhelm Racing's defense from the wings.
Devils' top striker Nestor Silvera will finally be able to perform, recovered from an angina and he'll be joining Facundo Parra on the attack. Racing's defenders will have to keep Silvera under close watch, as his aerial expertise might doom the visitors to return home empty-handed.
"We need a victory to develop some momentum. A derby is always an interesting game to play but what finally matters is who claims the three points. In the little details you can find the difference" declared Independiente's coach. "I'm starting to know my players, and it's my obligation to arm an aggressive squad and don't waste time experimenting, this is not the proper time to do so" he added.
Racing's creation will greatly miss Giovanni Moreno, called to perform for Colombia's National Football Team against Ecuador. Moreno missed a penalty shot against the Tricolor, but this didn't stop him from becoming Colombia's offensive leader.
Miguel Angel Russo decided Braian Lluy is the one to take over Moreno's place. The absence of his main playmaker forces Racing's coach to modify his scheme to a 4-4-2 with Patricio Toranzo retiring to the center of the midfield to join team's captain Claudio Yacob and provide more ball control to the Academia.
Pablo Luguercio and Gabriel Hauche will be once again the chosen strikers, with Claudio Bieler sitting in the bench once again. Russo does not want to risk a single point in the rest of the tournament and wants to build a solid scheme ready to face the matches to come.
The three point will cast the illusion that not everything is lost. It's a chance for redemption for Miguel Angel Russo or a glorious welcome for Mohammed, who will bag the victory?
The Fortin receives Colon on Sunday's evening determined to jump back on the title's chase. The last two victories have boosted the confidence of the Sabaleros, who are determined to bag the full scoring in Liniers.
Colon's new coach Fernando Gamboa is aware this match is to be faced as an early final in the tournament, as a victory might let them reach the fifth position whilst a defeat could sink them to the lower half of the positions table.
"This is one of the toughest matches in our schedule. They have players with great ball control, an excellent manager as Gareca, and they will be playing among their followers. We're confident nevertheless, we've great players in great form" declared Gamboa.
Colon's coach will repeat the overly aggressive formation that granted the Sabaleros the last six points. Damian Diaz, Joaquin Larrivey, Federico Higuain and Esteban Fuertes will lead the offense and Velez's defenders will have to be fully focused not to be overwhelmed by Colon's unearthly offensive strength.
The big news of the week for the visitors is team's captain German Rivarola likely return, as he's evolved favorably from his injuries as well as Facundo Curuchet and Cristian Ledesma.
The hosts have obtained only five points in the last four matches and they'd to witness Estudiantes climbing higher and higher from a fixed position. Against Newell's Velez suffered its second defeat in the tournament, and with 17 points a victory is mandatory to keep up with Arsenal's pace waiting for a chance to shorten Estudiantes' gap.
Fabián Cubero received his fifth yellow card against Newell's, and Ivan Bella is ruled out with injuries. Gaston Diaz and Augusto Fernández are likely to take over their places, respectively.
Whoever wins this game will be hunting for Estudiantes in the chase for the title. Who will it be?
Claudio Borghi's Xeneizes will be doomed without the three points in Victoria, and Tigre's coach Caruso Lombardi should be careful on how he deals with them if he wants to secure the three points.
A quick look at the figures of their last confrontations reveals that Tigre has never been defeated by Boca playing at home. These figures grow even larger considering the Matadores have not been beaten in the last six matches.
Boca's creative wizard Juan Roman Riquelme was brutal "We cannot play worse" he said. He's still recovering from knee surgery and he might be joining the starting squad earlier than expected.
Borghi will introduce a major modification in his scheme, for Clemente Rodriguez will be sidelined for three weeks for a disciplinary sanction and Matías Giménez will take over his position.
It'll be an important match for Gimenez, former Tigre's player, and he knows he should take advantage of this opportunities to make it on the regular team. "I cannot waste more opportunities, I'll do my best to help the team claim the three points and follow Gaona Lugo's example". he added.
If given the space, Boca's strikers won't forgive. The Matadores might not be able to bear with a sound defeat, and for that reason Tigre should adopt an aggressive character from the first minute on. Borghi's future will surely depend on the outcome of this game, who will claim the three points?
Monday's late game will have a great impact on the relegation fight, for both River Plate and Gimnasia La Plata are struggling to escape from the risk zone and whoever wins this game will be making a declaration of principles and opening an important gap to face the next matches standing on safe ground.
Gimnasia's new coach Pablo Morant wants to explore new possibilities and will be giving Cristian Piarrou an opportunity within the starting squad for the first time in over a year. "It'll be important to return home with at least one point to start our recovery. We cannot return home empty-handed if we want to change the general mood" stated Lobos' midfielder Luciano Aued.
Miguel Angel Cappa is still looking for the perfect formation and will introduce once again modifications in his scheme when Gimnasia visits the Monumental on Monday. Mauro Diaz has won his place within the starting eleven, giving more control of the ball in the midfield, and Mariano Pavone will be joining once again Gabriel Funes Mori on the attack.
Team's promising midfielder Manuel Lanzini is likely to be back in the next weeks and his return will strengthen Millonarios' creation. A must win for both teams, who will leave the Monumental with a smile upon its face?