Round Twelve of the Primera season kicks off on Friday evening – here is when and where everything is happening over the next few days with a brief preview and links to all the statistical information and possible starting line ups for each game via WhoScored.
Game of the week
The meeting of two grandes is always something of an event but the circumstances of this latest Boca Juniors and Racing clash makes it all the more interesting. Without overly impressing, Boca have quietly climbed up the table and into the thick of the title race with an unbeaten run that stretches back to the opening weekend. The nine-month wait for an away win has been ended with back-to-back wins and with Fernando Gago back from injury, Los Xeneizes looked in good shape last week against San Lorenzo. On the road in 2016, Boca have been terrible but Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side have not had any such problems and are now 12 without defeat.
Ricardo Zielinski was a clásico defeat away from being under intense pressure at Racing but last Sunday’s emphatic win over Independiente was not only the best performance of the season but a potential turning point for El Ruso. The influential Marcos Acuña will miss the trip to La Bombonera with a respiratory infection but with the form that Gustavo Bou and Lisandro López showed last weekend, La Academia pose a threat for anyone.
Despite being well beaten by Tigre last time out, it was a first defeat in seven for Quilmes and at home Los Cerveceros have been excellent this season. Unbeaten in five with four victories, have seen Alfredo Grelak’s side put a bit of breathing space between themselves and the drop zone while Sarmiento remain in the thick of the relegation fight. Currently entrenched in one of the four places destined for the Nacional B this is another six-pointer for Burruchaga’s boys.
Caruso Lombardi knew the pressure when he was hired and it was for exactly this relegation situation that Huracán brought in the fiery coach. Just one place above the relegation zone, now would be an ideal time for El Globo to claim their first home win of the season. Narrow defeats to the league’s top two have seen Colón drop to tenth but Paolo Montero’s side remain the best defence in the Primera and will once again look to keep a clean sheet and nick three points from a set-piece or a counter.
Sebastián Bececcese was three minutes away from a debut win as Defensa y Justicia coach but has no time to dwell on that heartbreaking defeat to Patronato. El Halcón are in the thick of the relegation fight and have won only once all season so are in desperate need of a result. Their hosts’ rally against relegation may have come too late but while La Crema remain in the Primera, they seem up for the fight. The victory over San Martín ended a run of four without a win and in the Monumental they have looked more than competitive.
Despite having several players missing, Pedro Troglio’s side bounced back from their first defeat in nine matches two weeks ago to comfortably beat Quilmes last Saturday. Only Estudiantes have won in Victoria this season and that was all the way back on the opening weekend so it doesn’t bode well for an Aldosivi side that are now fourteen without a win away from Mar del Plata.
No one would have expected this would be a game of such intrigue near the top of the table at the start of the season. Newell’s continue grinding out wins and Maxi Rodríguez’s late winner against Colón closed the gap on Estudiantes after Banfield ended the league leaders’ 21-match unbeaten run with a 3-2 win at the Estadio Florencio Sola. Were El Taladro on their own patch, they would perhaps be favourites but Newell’s have dropped just two points from six matches in Rosario and will be aiming to eke out another three points.
Pablo Lavallén will be making his debut as Atlético Tucumán after a run of one win in nine matches saw Juan Manuel Azconzábal walk away but the former San Martín coach must address the slump. Godoy Cruz’s late equaliser against Sarmiento earned a first away point of the season but while El Tomba have been poor on their travels, in Mendoza their record has been superb. Only two points dropped from the six home games and 84.6% of all their goals scored illustrate just how difficult a task this is for the visitors.
San Lorenzo’s dip in form over recent weeks has seen Los Cuervos crash out of the Copa Sudamerican and the Copa Argentina and win just twice in five Primera matches. However, Diego Aguirre’s side are yet to lose away from home and will want to go into the mid-season break as close to the leaders as possible. At the opposite end of the table, Olimpo are fighting for survival. Unbeaten in five but with three consecutive draws, Los Aurinegros remain in the drop zone. Their record in Bahía Blanca is the only thing keeping them afloat – Tigre are the only side to win there this season – but that record is likely to come under attack on Saturday.
Perhaps it was a coincidence that Estudiantes’ 21-match unbeaten run came to an end with Santiago Ascacibar suspended but El Pincha missed the outstanding ball winner and with El Ruso back for Sunday, the league leaders will expect to return to winning ways. That will be easier said than done against the Primera’s in-form side, Talleres. Despite the draw with Arsenal last Friday, La T remain on an impressive six-match unbeaten streak of their own.
Rosario Central booked their spot in a third Copa Argentina final in as many years on Wednesday night and while that competition has been the priority, El Canalla’s league form has obviously dipped. Eduardo Coudet’s side are now six matches without a win, and have drawn their last four and much will depend on the side that is selected against a Unión side unbeaten in four. A far better side in Santa Fe than on their travels, only Belgrano have won at the Estadio 15 de Abril this season and after winning their previous two home matches Juan Pumpido will be hoping to extend this latest run.
Patronato have now chalked up five wins from six matches and are unbeaten at home in four representing quite the turnaround from the side that lost four of the opening five fixtures. Such a change in fortune is exactly what Vélez Sarsfield wish for as for the timebeing El Fortín remain perilously close to the relegation zone. Omar De Felippe’s side are one of the lowest scorers in the top flight and have picked up just a single point from six away matches.
The Copa Argentina run aside, this season has been woeful for Belgrano and with Rosario Central ending their title hopes on Wednesday, Leonardo Madelón must now concentrate on improving matters in the league. One win all season and the lowest scoring attack means surely the only way is up. Temperley’s hopes of Primera survival are rapidly declining as El Gasolero are running out of opportunities to improve and get out of the bottom four. With one win in 10 and a single point from the last five, it is getting critical in the descenso.
Following such a dreadful defeat to Racing in the clásico, Gabi Milito finds himself under a lot of pressure ahead of the visit of River. Club icon or not, a repeat of that performance and Milito could be out. Independiente are in such poor shape at the minute even a below strength River will fancy their chances in Avellaneda. Marcelo Gallardo’s side booked their place in the Copa Argentina final on Thursday in impressive fashion and El Rojo may quietly be hoping River choose to rotate on Sunday evening.
Arsenal just need a win from somewhere – rooted to the bottom, the only team yet to pick up three points, and an appointment of a new coach that has made no immediate effect. The goalless draw away to Talleres showed some defensive resolve (and luck) but they need wins at home to avoid the drop. San Martín are in marginally better shape but after successive 3-0 defeats to Patronato and Atletico de Rafaela, Pablo Lavallen has gone and there is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the club.
Three consecutive wins suggest champions Lanús have finally woken up and certainly in the win over Temperley last Friday, Lautaro Acosta and Miguel Almirón looked somewhere back to the form that led El Granate to the title. Gimnasia’s league form has undoubtedly been affected by their Copa Argentina run but with River Plate emphatically ending that on Thursday, El Lobo must now address a run of one win in nine.