Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nerves Of Steel - or - Trying Not To Think About El Clásico

When I think about Newell's Old Boys match Sunday against Rosario Central, I get nervous, so while I'm at work I try not to. From postings I'm seeing on Facebook it's the same for many a Lepra, anticipation mixed trepidation, to down right fear. This is where living far away from Rosario, and Argentina, does have it's benefits. I don't have to go to work, or school, and deal with the fact that my coworker/fellow student/teacher/boss belongs to the other side.

At most I'll have to bite my tongue should I come upon someone who unwittingly wears yellow and blue in my presence. Even then, the only time that really bothers me is if they are in strips, or if it's the week before or after the clásico. Thankfully, the University of Michigan teams don't wear strips.

But tonight I have to spend sometime thinking about what's to come. Newell's are on top of the league table, still tied with Banfield, who have been matching us win for win for what seems like forever. Because of that, one could say that Sunday's game is a must win, but that would be a lie. It's a must win because it's the clásico rosarino, and Sin Aliento have to be put in their place, La Lepra have to prove their dominance, in a rivalry that's about as even as you can get.

In the complete history of the two clubs, there have been 320 clásicos played between the two teams. Newell's have won 105, while Central have managed 100, with 115 draws. On the down side, Central has scored 450 goals in those matches, while Newell's trails with 448. In my eyes, that means that Newell's must win by three or more in order to set things right.

If we lose to Los Canallas it will be devastating. Even if Newell's then went on to win the Apertura, there will be a celebration, but one tainted with the knowledge that we lost to them. If we lose, or even draw, and then don't win the title, the Sinas will be able to point to this match and claim that they killed our hopes and dreams. There for, Newell's must win. In fact, I'd trade a win over Central over a title any day, any time, any where.

Already, the press has put together an anticipated line up for Newell's:

Sebastián Peratta; Alexis Machuca, Juan Insaurralde, Ignacio Fideleff; Nahuel Roselli, Hugo Barrientos, Lucas Bernardi, Leonel Vangioni; Mauro Formica; Jorge Achucarro y Joaquín Boghossian

With the return of Achucarro from international duty, Sánchez Prette goes back serving his ban. Insaurralde returns to rest Schiavi, Formica moves back into the playmaker role. I'd feel more secure if Schiavi were able to play, and while Barrientos has done well in his absence, I miss Mateo in midfield.

Meanwhile, no changes are expected in Central's line up:

Jorge Broun; Diego Chitzoff, Guillermo Burdisso, Diego Bragheri, Paul Ambrossi; Jonatan Gómez, Mario Paglialunga, Jesús Méndez, Gervasio Núñez; Emilio Zelaya y Gonzalo Castillejos

To be honest, there isn't much I know about this set of Sinas... with the exception of their keeper. During the Clausura '09 clásico it was Broun who kept Newell's from winning in a game that ended in a 1-1 deadlock.

Also announced are the referees for the weekend's matches, and once again Newell's draw an official that will be calling his third match of the Apertura in which Newell's will be playing, this time it's Diego Abal. I don't know how they assign referees in Argentina, but I think it's odd that at the end of the clásico there will be three officials to have worked three Newell's games, six that will have called one, and still there are referees working this weekend that haven't worked one.

Here's the full list of this weekend's referee matchups. Those in bold have yet to work a Newell's match:

Estudiantes - Tigre, Mauro Giannini.
Lanús - Colón de Santa Fe, Rafael Furchi.
Huracán - San Lorenzo, Pezzotta.
Atlético Tucumán - Chacarita Juniors, Saúl Laverni.
Independiente - Banfield, Pablo Lunati.
Newell's - Rosario Central, Diego Abal.
Boca Juniors - Gimnasia y Esgrima (LP), Carlos Maglio.
Godoy Cruz - River Plate, Néstor Pittana.
Argentinos Juniors - Arsenal, Héctor Baldassi.
Vélez Sarsfield - Racing Club, Juan Pablo Pompei

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