Despite winning El Decano’s Libertadores dream may come up short
Atlético Tucumán did what they needed to do on Friday night with a dramatic late 3-2 win over San Martín inside a pulsating Estadio Monumental José Fierro. For 48 hours El Decano sat two points clear of Estudiantes in second place and in an automatic Copa Libertadores qualification spot as their most unlikely of dreams appeared momentarily possible.
Estudiantes coming from behind to beat Boca Juniors in La Plata on Sunday brought Atletico back down to earth but if either side drops points on the final day it is likely to be punished. El Pincha are now in pole position but must complete the job with a trip to Unión, a side unbeaten in six and having won their past three home games, while Atletico travel to face Newell’s. The away form of El Decano has certainly cost them and despite Newell’s struggling for goals, there is no room for error.
You would certainly have to make Estudiantes favourites and if Atlético Tucumán do end up in third, their may be a hint of disappointment after the club’s best opportunity slipped away. However, this is no taking away from the fact that many thought El Decano would be battling relegation and instead they have matched the Primera’s big boys and remain with a remarkable 31-game unbeaten streak at home.
Can Argentinos Juniors avoid the drop?
The outlook is still bleak for Argentinos Juniors despite holding Lanús to a 1-1 draw in La Paternal on Sunday. Sarmiento’s defeat to Tigre at the same time means one of the two will be relegated but Caruso Lombardi’s side still hold the advantage. Temperley managed to escape the situation with a 2-0 win over Newell’s and so El Gasolero will still be playing Primera football next season.
Argentinos Juniors still trail Sarmiento by two points in the descenso table and so nothing other than a victory away to Atlético Rafaela will do for Los Bichos. Sarmiento travel to Bahía Blanca to face Olimpo knowing that their fate is in their hands, a first away win of the year would guarantee Caruso Lombardi’s sides safety.
Given that Los Bichos have won just once all season, and that was by a single goal against a reserve Boca side, it’s difficult to make a case that they can drag themselves out of this situation or that they even deserve it. If Raúl Sanzotti’s boys had shown some of the fight they displayed against Lanús earlier in the season perhaps they wouldn’t be where they are now.
Godoy Cruz take a slender advantage over San Lorenzo to the final day
While Lanús confirmed their place in the Transición final with three games to spare in zone two, San Lorenzo and Godoy Cruz ensured that their bids to face El Granate will go to the final day.
Pablo Guede’s San Lorenzo defeated Colón in Santa Fe thanks to a Nicolás Blandi brace (his fifth goal in four games) while Pol Fernández’s superb free kick was enough to give El Tomba three points against Belgrano.
With a game remaining, the two sides are tied on 33 points at the top of zone one but with Godoy Cruz holding the advantage of a far superior goal difference. El Tomba travel to San Juan for their Primera clásico against San Martín on the final day while San Lorenzo host Banfield. Godoy Cruz’s fixture certainly has more of a potential banana-skin look to it but should both sides win, as expected, it will be El Tomba competing with Lanús for the title.
Barovero the latest of River’s Libertadores heroes to say goodbye
It hasn’t been a good 2016 so far for River Plate but on Saturday evening in the Monumental, Marcelo Gallardo’s side gave a fitting send off to goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero and left-back Leonel Vangioni, two of the Copa Libertadores winning side who will be leaving the club at the end of the season.
Saturday’s 1-0 win over Gimnasia was only a second win in ten Primera games and coupled with River’s failure to defend their Libertadores crown it has been a pretty underwhelming period since lifting the famous trophy.
Marcelo Barovero and Leonel Vangioni leaving marks almost the end of the Libertadores side, with only Gabriel Mercado, Jonathan Maidana, Leonardo Ponzio and Rodrigo Mora remaining. Such is the way in South American football and it’s high turnover of players, Marcelo Gallardo must now seek to rebuild ahead of the year-long tournament.
What does life after Pellegrino hold for Independiente?
In Avellaneda, Independiente began life after Mauricio Pellegrino with a convincing win over Arsenal. Reserve manager, Fernando Berón took charge and noticeably had El Rojo attack with greater purpose and intensity. Goals from Leandro Fernández and Rodrigo Gómez handed El Rojo the win but supporters will have been buoyed by the reemergence of Martín Benítez, who enjoyed his best game of the season by far, and in general a far more dynamic performance.
It hasn’t been a good season for Independiente and the lack of goals, a perceived defensive mindset and ultimately a non-existant title challenge cost Pellegrino his job. Gabriel Milito is expected to be named the new manager this week and if he can get the best from the likes of Benítez, Fernández and Vera then El Rojo will be a threat next season.