Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Copa Sudamerica Dreams / Arsenal Preview

First off let me ask why, oh why must Newell's Old Boys next match be scheduled for Thursday? I wouldn't complain, save for the fact that I've been getting together with friends every Thursday night (except holidays, and such) for nearly thirty years straight... and as I've been hosting these nights for the past three it's not like I can gracefully bow out.

Still, I should be able to get the live feed of the match going... I might even persuade myself to move the computer to the room where we will be gathering, so it's not like I won't be able to see any of the game.

I'm really hoping that the 5-0 win over Colón de Santa Fe gives Newell's some momentum going into the final three games of the Clausura. Two of those matches will be on the road, starting with Thursday's match against Arsenal de Sarandí. La Lepra have not done well on the road so far this year, having won only one match out of seven away from the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa. After Arsenal, it's back home to face Gimnasia LP, and then back to Buenos Aires for a showdown with San Lorenzo.

Sticking to one match at a time (I'll get back to Gimnasia & Los Cuervos before we play them, I promise,) Arsenal should be an easy win. They have given up the most goals of the Clausura (28 - tied with Boca Jrs,) and are second worst on goal difference (-11 to Atlético Tucumán's -12.) They also have a worst record at home (2 wins 1 draw and 4 loses) than they do on the road (3 wins, 2 draws, 4 loses.)

Right now, after sixteen games, Newell's find themselves in 6th place, one point behind 5th place Lanús, the only team that the team realistically has a chance of overtaking. 5th place has always been my measuring stick for Newell's having a great championship, but, perhaps more than that, there is still the matter of earning a spot in the up coming Copa Sudamerica, and the team's placement in that tournament.

Having taken the time to look up what it takes to qualify (the top six teams over the course of the entire season - Apertura and Clausura combined - qualify from Argentina,) as well as those standing, I can say that Newell's could conceivably qualify in the first slot. Let's go ahead and look at where the remaining team that could qualify are:

65 pts Independiente
64 pts Estudiantes LP
64 pts Banfield
64 pts Argentinos Jrs.
63 pts Newell's
57 pts Vélez Sarsfield
56 pts Lanús
54 pts Colón (Sta.Fe)

I'd really love to look at this another way as well, what if the Primera División de Argentina was not split into two championships? Right now, if that were the case, there would be five teams that would still be in the title race with only three matches to go. But it is a two championship campaign, so let's get back to the Sudamericana. Newell's are in fifth place, but only two points behind qualifying leaders Independiente. Should Newell's, as is my wish, win all three of their remaining matches they stand a good chance of jumping over any of the teams above them.

Of course, I suppose I should look at the other possibility, and that would be that Newell's drops out of the qualifying positions. To avoid that, however, should be easy. Win one match, or tie all three, and the lowest the team would drop to would be the sixth, and final, qualifying spot.

And, finally, here's the anticipated starting 11 for Thursday's match against Arsenal:

Sebastián Peratta
Agustín Alayes, Rolando Schiavi, Juan Manuel Insaurralde
Mauricio Sperduti, Lucas Bernardi, Diego Mateo, Leonel Vangioni
Mauro Formica
Jorge Achucarro, Joaquín Boghossian

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