For those who have not been paying attention to what is going on in Argentina, you have been missing out in what promises to be a very entertaining and chaotic push in the final four games for the Torneo Inicial season. Currently leading the Torneo Inicial through 15 games is Rosario-based Newell’s Old Boys who are on top with 29 points, but right behind Newell’s are two teams who are tied for second with 27 points.
Newell’s came into the Torneo Inicial as the defending champions as they won the 2013 Torneo Final and with questions about how they would be able to cope with the loss of coach Gerardo Martino to FC Barcelona and striker Ignacio Scocco. Well, former Martino assistant Alfredo Berti has continued with the same tactical philosophy that Martino instilled in his tenure and the club has not missed a beat.
In addition Maxi Rodriguez who has stepped up in place of the departed Scocco and leads the team with six goals scored. David Trezeguet, a player deemed persona non grata by Ramon Diaz over at River Plate, has come in and delivered with five goals so far, showing that he is still a capable goalscorer when healthy.
A few draws as of late has seen Newell’s lead over those in second shrink to two points, and one of those teams currently in second behind Newell’s is San Lorenzo, who they played against on Saturday and drew 1-1.
“El Ciclon”, as San Lorenzo is referred to, started the season slowly but have picked up their play. The team coached by Juan Antonio Pizzi has been a consistent top-six side since he took over as the coach in October 2012. Unlike the other teams currently in the top three, San Lorenzo are lead by a core group of young players who have come up through the club’s youth teams.
Players like Angel Correa, Alan Ruiz and Gonzalo Veron have stepped up and performed at a high level while veterans like Martin Cauteruccio, Ignacio Piatti and Leandro Romagnoli have proven to be the right mix to have San Lorenzo in serious contention.
Along with San Lorenzo, Boca Juniors are the other team that is tied in second place and looking to win after having overcome a horrendous Torneo Final 2013 and a slow start to the current Torneo Inicial. What has been the main difference for the team coached by club legend Carlos Bianchi?
The difference is three-fold. The first is that new signing Daniel Diaz has provided leadership and defensive resolve to a backline that lacked both those qualities last season. The second reason is Emanuel Gigliotti, another new signing who has been the proven goalscorer the team lacked as he has scored seven so far.
The final reason for Boca being in contention is that another club legend midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme has been healthy. With his mind fully invested into the game, he has served as the midfield maestro who is the ultimate no. 10 for a Boca team that has looked like a potential champion.
While clubs like Lanus and Arsenal de Sarandi are only four points back of Newell’s, it is clear that the winner of the Torneo Inicial will be a three horse-race between Newell’s, San Lorenzo, and Boca.