Monetti shines as Lanús close on title
There appears to be no stopping Lanús now after a hard fought 1-0 win over Tigre in Victoria left El Granate all but confirmed as Zone Two champions. José Sand’s first half penalty proved to be enough but goalkeeper Fernando Monetti was the real match winner for the visitors. Following José Luis Gómez’s first half sending off, Tigre were in the ascendency after the break but a string of superb saves by the keeper bought from Gimnasia to replace Agustín Marchesín earned Lanús a monumental three points. A place in the 2017 Copa Libertadores is already confirmed but Jorge Almirón’s side are now seven points clear of Estudiantes in second place with three matches to play. Regardless of how El Pincha get on, a win over Aldosivi at home will clinch a place in the Transición final.
Will San Lorenzo or Godoy Cruz face Lanús in the final?
In Zone One, the opponents for Lanús are still unknown but two clubs have distanced themselves from the pack and while qualification for the Libertadores is a decent enough prize, the two are locked on the same points in the battle to top the league. San Lorenzo and Godoy Cruz now have three games to wrestle the number one spot and that will likely go to the final day.
San Lorenzo’s victory over Independiente was a fifth consecutive win and having recently beaten Godoy Cruz, it is Los Cuervos who are in the better run of form. However, El Tomba will not lie down and despite that defeat have notched back-to-back wins to remain level.
The San Lorenzo squad, many of whom made up the Copa Libertadores winning side will certainly be better prepared for the pressure and although they host River Plate this weekend, they certainly have a relatively straight-forward run in. Godoy Cruz are looking to make history and claim a first Primera title but have a couple of away games at Quilmes and San Martín that may prove to be banana skins.
Libertadores teams suffer but the 2017 tournament will look very different
It is no surprise that this weekend, only one of the five sides still competing in the Copa Libertadores won and that was Racing, who were playing another of those sides in Huracán. Since being eliminated San Lorenzo have been able to focus on the league and as such are contenders to win the Transición but the remaining sides have struggled.
River failed to beat ten-man Vélez in the Monumental, Rosario Central lost at home for only a second time under Eduardo Coudet against Gimnasia, Huracán reserves lost to Racing reserves and Boca Juniors provided Argentinos Juniors with their first win of 2016. It is hardly surprising with this weekend’s Primera fixtures in between the two legs of the Libertadores last 16 but the result of being unable to balance the two will have profound effects on the entrants to the 2017 edition.
One of the five remaining could perhaps win the Libertadores and qualify as holders but the others have missed the chance to qualift via the league. Unless there is a surprise in the final three matches, the four sides to qualify via the Primera will be Lanús, Estudiantes, San Lorenzo and Godoy Cruz. The Copa Argentina will leave another route to qualification but the failure to reach the 2017 Libertadores will come as a real blow to the remaining grandes.
Agüero’s brother makes debut but Independiente begin looking for replacements for Pellegrino
The debut of Gastón del Castillo, the 18-year-old brother of Sergio Agüero provided a sole positive for Independiente supporters after they watched their side lost at home to San Lorenzo and so end any distinct hopes of lifting the title. All too often when this current El Rojo side have needed a result they have come up short and Saturday’s defeat was the latest example.
Mauricio Pellegrino is likely to leave his post at the end of the season after failing to guide Independiente at least back into the Copa Libertadores and although his side missed good chances on Saturday it was yet another where they failed to find the net. Pellegrino has often come under fire for his negative tactics and although it has resolved the defensive issues of previous coaches it appears to have stifled the attack.
Regardless of whether Pellegrino has been let down by the form of key players or the injuries to Cebolla Rodríguez, the 44-year-old coach has not met the targets set out before him after a summer of investment. Gabriel Milito would appear to be the favourite to replace Pellegrino at the end of the season despite Jorge Sampaoli being mentioned as a far-fetched target.
Relegation looks to be going to the wire
Argentinos Juniors’ victory over Boca Juniors breathed life into their bid to avoid relegation and heaped pressure on Caruso Lombardi’s Sarmiento, who had dropped to the foot of the descenso as a result.
Los Bichos are far from safe and it is was only a Boca Juniors reserve side but Carlos Bueno’s second half goal provided a first win of the season and moved them off the foot of the descenso table. In need of a result on Tuesday evening, El Verde travelled to Banfield and despite playing most of the game against ten men, the visitors could only take a draw.
The draw means Sarmiento are now on exactly the same average as Argentinos Juniors with three to play.
Plus all the goals from round thirteen….