After wobbling for weeks, Boca Juniors are finally a step away from sealing an illusive Superliga title thanks to a possible World Cup star
Boca Juniors have done their best to make the Superliga title race interesting but on Sunday evening surely closed the door for good with victory over Newell’s Old Boys in La Bombonera.
Godoy Cruz’s fine run of six straight wins came to an end on Saturday with a draw away to Banfield and with that result, Boca were able to restore a six-point lead with only three games remaining.
The defending champions were still not particularly impressive against Newell’s but were grateful to the contribution of Cristian Pavón, who once more proved the difference on a night where Boca were in need of inspiration.
Jorge Sampaoli has already departed for Europe but after speaking with Pavón last week, the 22-year-old’s display will not have gone unnoticed and will surely boost his chances of a spot at the World Cup.
Injury looked to have ruled out Pavón earlier in the week; Guillermo Barros Schelotto will have been relieved that it wasn’t the case as once again the forward’s lightening pace, ability to beat defenders, directness and tremendous work rate was the catalyst for victory.
@CABJ_English player of the game:
Played a fantastic game, broke the Newell’s defense constantly, they had no answer for him. Assisted on the 1st goal and scored the 3rd goal. Almost impossible for Boca to lose when Pavon plays like today.
— Boca in English (@CABJ_English) April 23, 2018
A superb assist and a ferociously struck goal were vital and with Pavón racking up 65 consecutive games it is clear just how important he has become for Boca.
One more win would likely be enough to seal the title and with Pavón’s pace likely to be an option for Argentina this summer, a big money transfer looks set to follow the Superliga triumph.
Another who is set to join Pavón is Lautaro Martínez and although the Racing Club striker didn’t start in Rosario, the 20-year-old came off the bench to illustrate just why he could be Argentina’s surprise package in Russia.
Martínez, already firmly in Sampaoli’s plans, and teammate Ricardo Centurión are tearing up this year’s Copa Libertadores and while Racing look to miss out on automatic qualification via the Superliga, that didn’t stop Eduardo Coudet’s vibrant, young side picking up a valuable win away to Rosario Central on Sunday.
Those two already mentioned have deservedly taken the plaudits this season but in midweek Matias Zaracho shone and on Sunday, Brian Mansilla took his turn in the spotlight with a stunning opening goal.
Lautaro Martínez so far this season:
Copa Libertadores: 3 games & 4 goals
Superliga Argentina: 18 games & 11 goals & 4 assists
21 games, 15 goals & 4 assists. Directly involved in a goal every 93 minutes.
— FootballTalentScout (@FTalentScout) April 22, 2018
Racing introduced Martínez from the bench and soon after the Inter-bound striker showed just what he is all about. Nicknamed El Toro (TheBull) the youngster won possession close to half way and charged past two defenders before finding the bottom corner to seal the points.
Many people might still be wondering how this unproven youngster could be included in Argentina’s World Cup squad but those doubters will likely find out very soon.
Pavón and Martínez are not only strong candidates to go to Russia but could both have a big impact on the team for years to come and are in terrific form ahead of Sampaoli’s big decision.