Round Fifteen of the Superliga 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
One of Argentina’s fiercest derbies takes place on Saturday afternoon in La Plata and while both clubs sit well out of title contention and safe from relegation, there will be plenty on the line when they look horns at El Bosque.
What has historically been quite an evenly contested clásico, in recent years Estudiantes have dominated the fixture and are undefeated now in fifteen. With that momentum, El Pincha arrive on Saturday in better form after kicking off 2018 in style. The victory over Independiente in Avellaneda was perhaps a little fortunate but Lucas Bernardo’s side were a joy to watch in beating Newell’s 4-2 last week.
Physically imposing at the back but quick on the break, Colombian Juan Otero has been in terrific form since the restart and will be the Estudiantes dangerman.
Gimnasia’s season has been very stop-start and although it led to Mariano Soso walking away at the end of the year, new manager Facundo Sava is yet to see things click. Unbeaten in two, Sava has seen his side slightly fortuitously beat Rosario Central and then fail to find a goal against Arsenal.
However, Gimnasia are far better on their own turf, winning 12 of their 17 total points.
The last two clásicos in El Bosque have been dreadful goalless draws, in which players have admitted the pressure of not losing means neither side really commit, and that is always a risk. On Saturday, Estudiantes arrive in some form and they will fancy their chances of extending their current run of superiority.
Defensa y Justicia’s fine form when Juan Pablo Vojvoda first took over has given way to three defeats on the bounce due in part to wasteful finishing and Nicolás Fernández losing his midas touch. El Halcón will hope to change that with the visit of a Chacarita Juniors side, who despite beating Vélez last Monday, look odds on to be relegated and are yet to win on the road.
Despite holding on for a point against Gimnasia last week, Arsenal have a foot-and-a-half already in the Nacional B so the a difficult trip to Santa Fe doesn’t promise much. Sergio Rondina’s side are the worst attack in the league and they face a Unión side, unbeaten at home. Leonardo Madelon’s side may have lost on the road to Central last week and be without Lucas Gamba but they sit in fourth for a reason.
Colón were a little unfortunate to lose against Independiente but regardless of El Sabalero not taking their chances, it was a fourth consecutive defeat without scoring a goal. Defensively strong, Eduardo Dominguez’s side will look to hit Newell’s on the counter and could get some joy as you never really know what to get from the hosts. Cut open at ease by Estudiantes last week in La Plata, La Lepra are usually better in Rosario and only Belgrano have left the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa this season with all three points.
Defeat to Chacarita was a reminder that Gabriel Heinze needs time. Mauro Zárate cut a frustrated figure, far too deep to make a real impact and Vélez are trying to incoporate a number of new players. However, this is Argentina so El Gringo won’t get forever to get things right and the visit of Patronato will certainly be earmarked for three points. Ruben Forestello’s side struggle for goals and have won only once away from Paraná.
The Argentinian media are still buzzing over Lautaro Martínez’s performance against Huracan and while the youngster’s hat-trick caught Jorge Sampaoli and looks to have pushed through a €27 million transfer to Inter Milan, Racing are straight back to work in Martínez’s home town of Bahia Blanca. Olimpo will look to shut-out La Academia’s individual talent as they did for much of their game against River last week. In the Monumental, Nacho Scocco was enough to break the Aurinegro and despite Eduardo Coudet’s side not yet clicking, you suspect Martínez, Lisandro López and Ricardo Centurión will have enough to tip this in the visitor’s favour.
Godoy Cruz chalked up their sixth win in six games in Mendoza in midweek and while their record on the road is pretty shoddy, El Tomba are formidable at home. That will come under test on Sunday, after just a few days rest, unbeaten in seven Belgrano come to town. El Pirata are defensively sound and have climbed into eighth off the back of that excellent foundation.
A thrilling victory in the Copa Libertadores during midweek in Quito was a huge boost for Banfield but perhaps not the best preparation for a trip to Córdoba on Sunday. El Taladro have the first leg of the third and final Libertadores qualifying round next week so Julio Cesar Falcioni’s small squad will once more be in use against Talleres. This schedule goes some way to explain Banfield’s one win in six but they would be underdogs against La T at present regardless. Frank Kudelka’s side are up in third after a third consecutive win last week and have the second best defensive record in the league.
Boca were far from their best in the draw with San Lorenzo and with key players missing and new signings trying to find their feet, getting back in that groove will likely take time. It will also still take a decent side to punish and Temperley don’t look to have that in them. Defeat at home to Talleres edged relegation a little closer but the spirit that saw El Gasolero escape last season, doesn’t seem to be there. Dreadful away from home and a blunt attack that doesn’t score enough, it is almost impossible to imagine a shock in La Bombonera. For all the talk of Boca being out of sorts, Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side sit six points clear and have the best attack and defence in the league.
River return to the stadium where their Libertadores dreams were shattered last year in a dramatic semi final defeat against a rampant Lanús side. While Marcelo Gallardo’s side have arguably not yet turned the corner completely after that loss, the club went big in the transfer window and there are signs of gradual improvement. The same can’t be said of Lanús, who now look a shadow of the side that lost to Gremio in the Libertadores final after a number of their star players leaving. El Granate are eight Superliga matches without a win and in desperate need of a boost but that looks unlikely to come against River. Nacho Scocco is in breathtaking form (see his goal(s) against Olimpo as evidence of that) and for the first time should be paired with record signing Lucas Pratto.
After a strong display against Temperley, Ricardo Zielinski will have been angered by his side’s lacklustre display against a second-string Banfield side. It was easy to see why El Decano have won only once away but they return to Tucumán on Sunday unbeaten. San Martín are also another team who prefer their home comforts and after dropping two points against Tigre in San Juan, victory on the road looks difficult, given the Verdinegro have managed that only once.
Argentinos Juniors were already coping pretty well with the rigours of top flight football but the return of Lucas Barrios has given them a real boost. Already back in the goals and linking play well, the Paraguayan international makes Los Bichos far more dangerous and while they may not be as potent away from La Paternal, Tigre have won once in fifteen games. New manager Cristian Ledesma was indebted to goalkeeper Federico Crivelli for the draw away to San Martín, which at least stopped a run of four straight defeats but wins are needed.
Huracán’s 1-0 win over an albeit sub-par River Plate was promising but El Globo were quickly deflated last week by Lautaro Martinez and Racing. Back in Parque Patricios now, where Huracan are yet to lose this season, Gustavo Alfaro’s side need to respond and they look set to be given a test by Central. Leonardo Fernández’s side battled to a win against Unión with ten men and will make things very difficult for the hosts.
Independiente v San Lorenzo
Postponed until April 4th