The all-Argentine semi-final of the Copa Sudamericana, between Arsenal and River Plate, will kick off at 8:45pm (local time) on Thursday night in El Viaducto, and both sides look like they’re going to be operating with slightly tweaked starting lineups from the norms.
For the hosts, Arsenal, former River midfielder Andrés San Martín cracked a rib during the weekend game against Rosario Central, and won’t recover in time to take his place against his one-time employers. Israel Damonte will stand in. Cristian Díaz replaces Darío Espínola at left-back, whilst a couple of other changes fot tactical reasons mean Arsenal will be lining up in their accustomed 4-4-2, with Diego Villar replacing Javier Yacuzzi and Leandro Biagini in for Alejandro ‘Papu‘ Gómez.
River were training away from El Monumental on Wednesday, to escape the prying eyes of the press. This surprised them a bit, but not nearly as much as news that Daniel Passarella appears to be thinking of playing with a strike duo of Radamel Falcao García and – wait for it – Marco Ruben. Not Mauro Rosales, who’s looked useful when he’s played but hasn’t scored as many as hoped for. Not Diego Buonanotte, who’s been a revelation since being thrown in at the deep end in the superclásico a few weeks ago. But Marco Ruben, who’s had chances to impress for River before and, by and large, blown them all.
Using Ruben instead of (in particular) Buonanotte will allow Passarella to drag Ariel Ortega back and play him ‘in the hole’ as a classic enganche, a true Argentine 10. But what on earth is he experimenting with that for when the forward line River have used for the last few matches has (except for some wasteful finishing against Independiente on Sunday) been just fine?
Needless to say, you’ll be able to get the reports and feedback from the match as soon as it’s over on Thursday night right here on HEGS (I won’t promise a live update because I’m likely to be missing the first half hour). For now, the teams are expected to line up thus:
Arsenal de Sarandí (manager Gustavo Alfaro):
Gandolfi —- Mosquera —- Matellán —- Díaz
Carrera —- Casteglione —- Damonte —- Villar
Calderón —- Biagini
River Plate (manager Daniel Passarella):
Tuzzio —- Nasuti —- Gerlo —- Ponzio
Domingo —- Ahumada —- Belluschi
Falcao García —- Ruben