Thanks, and the weekend ahead

First of all, now I’m back on English soil after six weeks in Spain, I’d like to thank all those readers who kept checking the site over the last six weeks and reading what I had the time to put up by way of news. I was expecting reading figures to absolutely plummet while I was away, but in fact they merely dipped. It’s much appreciated.

Of more interest, of course, is the football coming up this weekend, which is going to include no fewer than four clásicos in Primera A – and the small matter of the two frontrunners for the championship playing each other. For the main team news so far, read on…

Independiente announced on Wednesday night that they’ve sold out their 5,000-ticket popular allocation for Sunday’s clash in El Monumental against River, in spite of recent poor performances from the team. Only laterales (tickets along the side) now remain for the away supporters, who seem determined to get behind their team and get a title challenge back on track.

River, for their part, suffer a blow prior to the match with the confirmation that centre back Nicolás Sánchez will be out for the remainder of the season after fracturing a toe in his left foot in Tuesday night’s agonising edging-out of Defensor from the Copa Sudamericana. Sánchez will be operated on, but won’t be playing again before the end of the year, and River will be hoping to get back to winning ways without him on Sunday. Danilo Gerlo is in pole position to take his place.

Racing – Boca is the other clash between members of the ‘Big Five’, and the hosts are looking to force the game with both Sebastián Arrieta and Cristián Pellerano set to start on Saturday. Boca, meanwhile, may well leave playmaker Leandro Gracián on the bench after he ended Wednesday’s training session out of the ‘starters’ team. Instead Sebastián Battaglia and Ever Banega look set to provide what, if nothing else, will be a highly combative central midfield partnership.

San Lorenzo host Huracán on Sunday as well, and there’s not a lot to report gossip-wise for this one, except for the fact that Ramón Díaz has, to the surprise of absolutely no-one, been bigging up his side’s chances. ‘We don’t want to lose any more points,’ he said when asked about how he was approaching the match, whilst his striker Andrés Silvera, who played on the other side of the divide in 1998, announced of the long-awaited return of the rivalry to Primera A fixture lists ‘Whoever loses won’t be able to leave their houses.’

San Lorenzo defender Jonathan Bottinelli, meanwhile, was forced to explain quotes a few days ago in which he claimed that ‘Boca are much more of a clásico [for San Lorenzo] than Huracán,’ claiming that since he’d never faced the latter in a Primera A match before, he hadn’t been aware of what the rivalry meant to fans. Jonathan, they may have been out of the top flight for a few years, but they’re still the sixth most popular side in the country…

Huracán, by the way, haven’t provided any significant headline-worthy quotes this week, unless one counts manager Ossie Ardiles’s short interview with Olé on Monday which, since it concentrated solely on non-footballing matters (he discussed the state he’s found Argentina in since returning home after living in London), we won’t. Maybe they’re just preparing for the match.

And Tigre – Lanús? The clash of first and third hasn’t got too much attention, alongside all those derbies. But it’s set to be an interesting weekend…

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