Argentina’s revamped Superliga may only be three rounds old but there is already a familiar look to the league table with River and Boca on form
Boca & River out on their own
Unsurprisingly Vélez Sarsfield were unable to maintain their 100% start to the season and so El Fortín’s goalless draw away to Talleres left the heavyweights of Boca and River to pull away at the top on Sunday evening.
Champions Boca made no mistake despite falling behind early to Godoy Cruz in La Bombonera thanks to a Pablo Pérez brace and one each from Cristian Pavón and Uruguayan youngster Nahitan Nández; while River Plate scrapped to a 3-1 win away to San Martín with goals by Rafael Santos Borré, Carlos Auzqui and an overcome debutant Alan Marcel Picazzo.
Three from three for the two giants, seemingly paving the way for the expected title race
Boca are already the leading scorers and look ominously better placed than when they lifted the title last year. The prolific Darío Benedetto didn’t get on the scoresheet for a change but midfielder Pablo Pérez is in tremendous form and is rumoured to be close to a call up for Argentina. Eager to replicate a Boca match-day atmosphere, Argentina could have Benedetto, Pérez, Fernando Gago and Cristian Pavón among the squad when Peru visit next month.
River, meanwhile, keep pace with their rivals but are understandably making harder work of chalking up the wins. Marcelo Gallardo’s rotation after vital Copa Libertadores matches has stretched River’s squad but even with largely second-string elevens are finding ways past their Superliga opponents.
It is this strength that Boca and River have that mark them as the overwhelming favourites for the Superliga. Boca will have to juggle cup commitments in 2018 and so will be aiming to take advantage of a clear schedule during the first half of the season.
Soldano fires Unión to bright start
With one win in the final twelve matches of last season and only a solitary away victory throughout the entire campaign, expectations of Unión were limited. However, three games in and Leonardo Madelón’s boys remain unbeaten and notched up a second consecutive win over Defensa y Justicia.
The victory in Florencio Varela already matches last season’s record on the road and now Unión can look to press on.
Key to the relative success so far has been the form of 23-year-old centre forward Franco Soldano. A predatory penalty box finisher, Soldano has three goals to his name already and it was his brace on Saturday that proved decisive.
Having previously been linked with a move away from Santa Fe, Soldano looks to be finding some consistency and if he and Lucas Gamba can keep this up, not only will Unión be the beneficiaries this season but that move may come sooner rather than later.
Newell’s ease pressure with victory
Given how the last few months have been for Newell’s Old Boys, a victory was needed as soon as possible to settle the nerves in Rosario. Diego Osella resigning before the end of last season, a potential title challenge evaporating into a ninth-placed finish, problems with the barra bravas, the vice-president arrested under suspicion of drug smuggling and a number of key players leaving left Newell’s looking rather glum at the start of the season.
A winless start didn’t help matters and so there was a sense that a home defeat to relegation-threatened Olimpo on Saturday could have turned ugly.
Juan Manuel Llop’s side needed to dig in at times but goals from Luis Leal and exciting youngster Joaquín Torres gave the supporters reason to cheer. Institutionally La Lepra still seem in a bit of a mess but the squad must try and put that aside and build on a first three points of the season.
No points a concern for Argentinos Juniors
While Huracán are looking upwards from the relegation zone, newly promoted Argentinos Juniors are already feeling a little nervy after two straight defeats. For the second consecutive week, Los Bichos surrendered an early lead to suffer defeat and sitting at the foot of the descenso table, points are needed quickly.
After strolling to the Nacional B title, Argentinos Juniors were unfortunate to see Gabriel Heinze immediately resign and over the course of the window saw the likes of Esteban Rolón, Nicolás Freire and Francisco Fydriszewski all depart. Such key elements of the team that earned promotion were always going to be missed and new manager Alfredo Berti is now up against it.
Patronato and Saturday’s opponents Belgrano are hardly the toughest of teams that Los Bichos will face and with River and Racing up next, the wait for a first win back in the top flight looks likely to go on even longer.