Club football will now take a back seat in Argentina as matters of Leo Messi and the national team take over, but Boca are leading the way in the Superliga
There is only one real topic of conversation in Argentina this week as Lionel Messi and co. converge on Buenos Aires for a colossal week in World Cup qualification but before La Bombonera hosts the crunch Peru match, there is another round of Superliga action to dissect.
River stumble allows Boca to take early grip of title race
It may be early days but Boca Juniors opening up a four-point lead at this stage of the season is an ominous sign for the rest of the Superliga title hopefuls. Bitter rivals and closest competition, River Plate slipped up for the second consecutive weekend and while Boca produced only a marginally better performance, the champions eked out another victory.
Boca were far from their best against newly promoted Chacarita Juniors on Sunday, not helped by Erwin Cardona’s careless red card after a quarter of an hour, but thanks to Cristian Pavon’s early goal it was enough to chalk up a perfect fifth straight win.
After last week’s home draw with Argentinos Juniors, River needed to return to winning ways to keep pace with their rivals but another lacklustre display ended in a 1-1 draw with Tigre. An incident filled first half in a rainy Victoria saw both sides awarded penalties, Nacho Scocco scoring for River and Denis Stracqualursi missing for Tigre, both sides have strong appeals for another spotkick rejected and Lucas Janson equalising for El Matador.
River pushed for a winner and did have chances but lacked their usual sharpness in front of goal. Nacho Scocco has already proved his worth to Los Millonarios but with Sebastián Driussi and Lucas Alario gone, River desperately need others to step up and fill that goalscoring void.
Unión moved level with River in second but the four points they trail Boca by could already be hugely significant. Los Xeneizes schedule will obviously be more demanding in the second half of the season when the 2018 Copa Libertadores gets underway but River won’t want to be making up too much ground.
Independiente claim vital win while pressure increases on Racing
The Avellaneda giants had harboured hopes of challenging Boca for the title but have both made poor starts to the season; Independiente managed to secure a vital three points against Vélez Sarsfield but Racing took a turn for the worse with defeat to Argentinos Juniors.
El Rojo have not won since the opening weekend and have gone out of the Copa Argentina, so there was a degree of pressure on Ariel Holan for the first time since taking charge. The club may have focused on refereeing decisions recently but it has been their profligacy that has cost them and against Vélez it looked as though that may again be the problem.
After a host of missed chances and twice hitting the woodwork, eventually Maxi Meza made the breakthrough. El Rojo held off a decent response from Vélez but are still in need of improvement and must put a run together.
Racing, on the other hand, were unable to score a second win of the season and were undone by two late goals away to Argentinos Juniors. Diego Cocca may be the coach that brought the title to the club only a couple of years ago but his conservative tactics are already raising questions.
La Academia failed to create much in La Paternal and will hope to have youngster Lautaro Martínez back after the international break to provide an attacking spark.
Sand keeps on scoring as Lanús enjoy win
It wasn’t the most taxing hat-trick you’ll ever see but José Sand simply has the knack of scoring goals. There is nothing remarkable about the veteran striker’s game but he sniffs out chances and there are few more accomplished goal scorers in the top-flight.
A close range finish and two contentious penalties that left Gimnasia fuming, took Sand to 103 goals for Lanús and secured victory in La Plata. Three wins on the trot for El Granate and a place in the Copa Libertadores semi-finals is a decent place to be after an underwhelming start to the campaign.
Arsenal breathe life into relegation battle
After four straight defeats, little was expected from Arsenal ahead of their trip to the Estadio Florencio Sola on Monday evening. Banfield had secured Copa Libertadores football last season built largely on their form at home and started this campaign in similar form so Julio Grondona’s visitors claiming three points was a shock.
Even more so after youngster Juan Álvarez gave Banfield an early lead with his first professional goal and Arsenal were reduced to ten men. Rodrigo Contreras’ two-footed challenge on Renato Civelli will be one of the worst challenges seen all year and the striker was rightly shown a straight red card.
However, Banfield, so often the side playing on the back foot and breaking, looked at odds with being forced into a new role and Arsenal took advantage. Federico Milo and German Ferreyra secured a stunning turnaround and while Arsenal remain in the relegation zone, victory will serve as a real confidence boost.
Bernardi kicks off with victory as Estudiantes boss
To say that Lucas Bernardi got off to a good start as Estudiantes manager would be an understatement as El Pincha raced into a three-goal lead against Temperley to earn a first win since the opening weekend.
Gustavo Matosas’ resignation last week left Juan Sebastián Verón looking for a new coach once again and the Estudiantes president moved swiftly to bring Lucas Bernardi to the club.
His impact was immediate in the Estadio Alfredo Beranger as goals by Juan Otero, Pablo Lugüercio and Gastón Fernández put the visitors three-up after 16 minutes in a stadium that is normally a tricky place to go.
Who really knows what the issues were with Matosas but after a difficult couple of weeks it was a welcome result for Estudiantes.