Published on January 31st, 2018 | by Peter Coates0
Carlos Tevez returns to give another boost to brilliant Boca
The Argentina SuperLiga has returned, but it’s the same story at the top of the table after the return of Carlos Tevez to Boca
1) Boca Juniors still the team to beat
Despite adding even greater depth to the Superliga’s strongest squad, it had been something of a disappointing summer for Boca Juniors – accusations of assault hanging over players, a Superclásico defeat and not being able to add the new central defender that Guillermo Barros Schelotto had desired had caused a sense of deflation.
However, back at La Bombonera that was quickly blown away with a victory over Colón that while was far from Boca at their best, was more than enough to beat usually difficult opponents and open up a six-point lead at the top.
Carlos Tevez was back to a rapturous reception and immediately showed the desire that many in Shanghai wished they had got just a fraction of but it was Uruguayan youngster Nahitan Nández who stole the show. The 22-year-old scored the second and now the big question for Barros Schelotto is who misses out when Pablo Pérez returns from injury.
2) River Plate in need of a lift
Rivals River Plate have their reinforcements but having done business late were unable to make the most of them on Sunday and were punished by Huracán. Record signing Lucas Pratto got 20 minutes but could do little to avoid Marcelo Gallardo’s side sliding to a 1-0 defeat.
Gallardo had said that the summer had been spent reflecting on what was a desperately disappointing 2017 in spite of lifting the Copa Argentina. However, there was little difference in Parque Patricios as Gonzalo Martínez provided the only real creative spark and Rafael Santos Borré wasted the only clear opportunities.
Taking only six points from the last 30 available in the Superliga and languishing down in 20th is simply unacceptable for River and while Pratto, Franco Armani, Juan Fernando Quintero and Bruno Zuculini will improve the team, results have to pick up quickly.
3) A bad start for the Grandes
River weren’t alone in suffering a slow start as the remaining three Grandes all tasted defeat in the opening round.
San Lorenzo had the chance to go level on points with Boca, playing on Friday, a day before the leaders, but saw Alexis Castro and Gonzalo Rodriguez sent off in a 2-0 loss away to Talleres. The decision, or financial restrictions, that prevented strengthening could prove costly for Claudio Biaggio’s side.
Eduardo Coudet made his managerial debut with Racing Club but despite handing starts to his new signings, Ricardo Centurión, Nery Domínguez, Alejandro Cerutti and Leonardo Sigali, La Academia fell 2-1 to Unión.
And finally, Independiente actually resumed their season a few days earlier with a match postponed from 2017 that somehow ended in a draw against Rosario Central but followed that up with a first league defeat since September as Estudiantes claimed a 2-1 win in Avellaneda.
4) Four continue to surprise
Racing’s defeat came at the hands of Unión and it should not really have come as much of a surprise with Leonardo Madelón’s side now up to third, still unbeaten in Santa Fe and possessing a front two of Franco Soldano and Lucas Gamba, who will continue to score goals.
El Tatengue are not alone occupying those Copa Libertadores qualifying spots as Talleres cemented their position with victory over San Lorenzo, despite losing Emanuel Reynoso and Jonathan Menéndez in the window; Huracán dug in to stun River and Belgrano maintained their surprising upturn in form with a win over Olimpo.
The four teams sitting in the top six wouldn’t have been predicted at the start of the campaign but if they could maintain these positions it would be a major shock.
5) No change in the relegation picture
And while there appear to be plenty of twists and turns ahead in the race for Libertadores qualification, the relegation battle is looking a little predictable.
Vélez Sarsfield, the only club to truly strengthen in the window, began 2018 with a victory under new manager Gabriel Heinze and put further distance between themselves and the drop zone as all six clubs directly beneath failed to win.
Patronato managed a point against beleaguered Lanús while Tigre, Olimpo, Temperley, Arsenal and Chacarita Juniors all suffered defeat. Tigre under new manager Cristian Ledesma were unlucky to lose in stoppage time to Banfield and will hope to remain in the spot above the bottom four. However, that looks to be as much down to the form of the current occupants of the relegation places. There is little to suggest any of those sides have what it takes to escape.