After two weeks, Lanús have a stranglehold on the Clausura with two wins, two points clear of the rest of the pack. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Lanús will win again, but El Granate will lose some steam down the stretch and I don’t see them lifting the trophy at the end of the season. Feel free to prove me wrong, Gabriel “Chucho” Schürrer.
Week 3 features some matchups that will separate the men from the All Boys, if you will. Let’s get right to the details.
Looking Back: As mentioned, Lanús are the only team with two wins so far, having defeated my beloved Independiente 1-0 near the end of the match thanks to a goal by Mariano “Tank” Pavone, who you might remember was on River Plate’s relegated squad. He immediately jumped ship and landed at Lanús. Filthy mercenary. Independiente is now at the bottom of the table with Banfield and still haven’t scored a goal in this tournament. Ouch.
Speaking of Banfield, they got thrashed 4-0 by Vélez, who also won their midweek Libertadores game and lead their group. Ricardo “Skinny” Gareca has El Fortín looking solid and dangerous. If he can keep them firing on all cylinders, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. It goes without saying, but Banfield’s defense was just turrible.
Some other surprising results: Olimpo slammed Belgrano 4-1, Boca came up limp in a scoreless draw against Unión, and Racing lost to Godoy Cruz 1-0. On the relegation front, San Lorenzo is still in hot water despite a draw, and Tigre and Olimpo round out the bottom.
Midweek Gossip and Other Nonsense: Boca’s always good for some tension. Defensive oldster Rolando “Skinny” Schiavi (who never saw a Shawcross tackle he didn’t like) declared that the players “don’t like how we’re playing right now”. Falcioni canceled his Friday press conference in order to keep things quiet heading into Boca’s match against Newell’s Old Boys. Schiavi (who loves NOB) will miss the match through yellow card accumulation and a light knee injury.
Ramón “Buzzcut” Díaz is still tinkering with Independiente’s lineup in an effort to conjure up some offense. An aside about Diaz: rewind 15 years or so, this guy was the hottest manager in Argentina, winning titles with River Plate and routinely on the short list to manage the national team. Lately? Not so much. He tried to help San Lorenzo get out of their funk, but ultimately failed. The reason he’s at Independiente is because he’s on Argentina’s carousel of mediocre managers, and happened to be available when Independiente came calling. I really hope he gets his mojo back soon.
Gabriel “Batigol” Batistuta’s Colón de Santa Fe got off to a bad start this season, so the manager quit. Bati went to the carousel and quickly signed his old buddy (Spanish link) Roberto “Little Mouth” Sensini. The two were teammates on the Argentine selección and regularly played against each other in Serie A, where Sensini featured for Lazio, Parma, and Udinese. His last job as a manager was with Estudiantes, which didn’t work out.
Looking Forward: Week 3 gets underway tonight with an interesting clash between Atlético Rafaela and All Boys. Both teams have four points and will be looking for a win to keep pace with the rest of the pack leaders.
There’s two matches worth highlighting on Saturday, when Independiente face Estudiantes and Argentinos Jrs face San Lorenzo. This Estudiantes team is a far cry from the one that won titles with Sabella and a rejuvenated Verón. This Estudiantes still has Verón, but he’s overdue for retirement. If Independiente can find some good form and the back of the net, they might win. But I don’t want to jinx it. I’m also curious to see if San Lorenzo can put 3 points on the board and get some momentum going. They’re running out of time to get out of the relegation zone.
There’s a bunch of teams on four points playing Sunday, including Godoy Cruz v. Tigre: GC just got spanked in Chile in a Libertadores game, can they recover? But Tigre needs points to avoid relegation. I also already mentioned Boca v. Newell’s. I’ve got a soft spot for Newell’s and a cold, dead spot for Boca, but I still think Boca at least gets a draw out of this.
Finally, Lanús face San Martín on Monday and a win would guarantee first place for another week. But they’ll have to bounce back from last night’s loss to Olimpia in the Libertadores. Down 1-0 in the first half, Lanús managed an equalizer in the 2nd, only to see Maxi “Messi’s Cousin”* Biancucchi score the winner for the Paraguayans.
*He’s actually Messi’s cousin.