Final round 3 so far: There goes the home dominance…

After the opening matches of the 2014 Torneo Final, I wondered whether the dominance of results favouring the home sides which we saw during the Torneo Inicial was set to continue. Four away wins in the second round of games seemed to suggest otherwise, and now it would appear we have more evidence for the case against: seven matches have so far been played in round 3 (three on Tuesday and four on Wednesday), and five of them have ended in away wins. Only Vélez Sarsfield – 3-0 against All Boys – and Estudiantes – 2-1 against Lanús – managed to win at home.

The away wins have been a 2-0 win for Arsenal away to Olimpo – the home side’s first defeat in six matches – a disciplined (if slightly fortunate) 1-0 win for Tigre over Racing, a 2-0 win for San Lorenzo against Argentinos Juniors, a 2-0 win for Colon against Quilmes (a match which featured an absolute rocket into the top corner from Gabriel Graciani) and, late on Wednesday night, a 2-1 win for Godoy Cruz against River Plate.

For a tactical take on Tigre’s performance against Racing, I highly recommend this piece by temporary Hand Of Pod team member Rob Brown, although he sadly fails to mention the difficulty their manager Fabián Alegre would surely have holding down a job with an English club if he turned up for matches there looking the way he looks for Tigre’s games (which, I’d like to make clear, is something I greatly admire about him).

It’s hard to believe Colón hadn’t scored in nine hours of football prior to Graciani’s goal against Argentinos at the weekend, and even harder when you see the confidence with which he hit the absolute blooter that put them 1-0 up against Quilmes. Just perhaps, playing like this, they might be able to drag themselves kicking and screaming back above the relegation battle.

If they can, it’s bad news for Argentinos, who were so thoroughly outplayed by San Lorenzo that they didn’t manage so much as a single shot on target, and now sit bottom of the relegation table. Still, losing to the champions is not in and of itself something to be ashamed of, and if they can find a much-needed confidence boost soon, there is hope.

The biggest frustration so far in this round – as ever – is for River Plate. They scored again, but yet again they got stuck on one goal, and then watched as Godoy Cruz turned the game around and got a last minute winner. There were some frankly interesting refereeing decisions along the way – the consensus seemed to be that Éder Álvarez Balanta was unlucky to pick up a second yellow card, though TV replays of his grapple with Facundo Castillón were scarce for some reason – but River benefitted from officiating mistakes as well, notably when Godoy Cruz had what would have been a second goal wrongly disallowed for offside – the ball appeared to have hit José Luis Fernández before crossing the line, but in fact it went in off the post.

There follows a video of the goals from the round so far. And really do look out for Graciani’s. It’s quite a hit.


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