Barracas Central v Union de Santa Fe
There is a Covid outbreak at Union Santa Fe. After a difficult start of the year, Argentina has pretty much been corona free, but three players tested positive this Tuesday. The three players are starting centre back Diego Polenta and subs Juan Ignacio Nardoni and Sebastián Jaurena. On top of that, defensive midfielder Juan Portillo is suspended after his red card in the heated derby against Colón.
It causes manager Munua some problems on the midfield, as Nardoni is Portillo’s natural replacement and Jaurena would usually be next in line. It means Munua will play someone out of position as defensive midfielder. With Polenta out, Munua might go back to a back four as well, but that would mean that they’d need another midfielder with defensive skills, and that seems a big ask at the moment.
Barracas Central are again playing well this season, they mostly had the upper hand against last season’s runner-up Tigre and simply look steady again. Midfielder Iván Tapia is in good form with a goal and an assist in the first two games and manager Alfredo Berti made them a team that have a fairly positive style of play and collect their points. I suspect Unión have a bit more quality, but with several players out and the fear of more Covid cases, I fancy Barracas’s chances on a result.
Atlético Tucumán v Lanús
Atlético Tucumán has had a decent start of the season after two tough games. They collected a point at home against Colón and a completely unexpected point in the away game against title candidate River Plate. In that game they were mostly on the back foot and the point was mostly down to the goalkeeper. Bolivian national team goalkeeper Carlos Lampe played his first game for Tucumán and immediately became man of the match with several good saves. Since manager Lucas Pusineri joined the side in April, they are simply so much harder to beat.
Marcelo Ortíz is back from a suspension and Ramiro Ruíz Rodríguez is back from injury, so Pusineri has got all his best players available for this game. Lanús don’t have that luxury, it looks they will still be without Pepe Sand and Jose Lopez, their two best strikers from last season. Midfielder Alexandro Bernabei is also expected to miss this game. Just like Tucumán, Lanús drew the first two games of this season, but the club expects more, so the pressure on manager Jorge Almirón is mounting.
The bookmakers don’t pick a clear favourite for the victory, but I think Tucumán’s current form and attitude is much better. The results have been above expected and I suspect that will radiate into this game, that’s why I expect the home side to pick up three points.
Platense v Gimnasia y Esgrima la Plata
Platense and Gimnasia have had a good season start and are, surprisingly, the number one and two in the Argentinian league at the moment. In fact, from 28 teams, only one team won both matches so far and that is Platense. It is rather surprising giving their record last season, where they failed to win any of the last 11 games. With a couple of quality signings, including former Lazio, QPR, West Ham United and Watford striker Mauro Zárate, they improved substantially.
The 35-year-old striker was immediately important with the winning goal against Godoy Cruz. Platense’s attacking strength increased substantially compared to last season with Zárate. Miracles can’t be expected from him, but in the Argentinian league he can still be very important towards the end of his career. Together with former Catania and Saint-Étienne striker Gonzalo Bergessio, Platense have a very experienced attack, that should be good for several goals, especially early in the season, when fitness probably won’t be such a big issue yet.
Gimnasia are second in the league with four points, and with Johan Carbonero and Cristian Tarragona their attacking line is extremely dangerous as well. The pacey Colombian winger, who is rumoured to sign for Racing Club soon, improved massively towards the end of last season and took that level with him over the break. Tarragona is probably the most in-form striker in Argentina at the moment, with eight goals from his last eight games. As both Gimnasia and Platense mostly lean on their attackers, goals seem a likely prospect in the match between the top two of the league.
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