Newell’s Old Boys (8th) v Colón (21st)
22nd February 2020
🏟️ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, Rosario
Colón, our opponents on Saturday, have only scored a single goal in 2020.
It’s hard to believe that Colón were in a continental final just three months ago, losing 3-1 to Ecuador’s Independiente del Valle in horrendous conditions in Asunción. The manager who led them to the final, Pablo Lavallén, resigned soon afterwards and the Colón board replaced him with former Newell’s coach Diego Osella, whose last Superliga mission ended with the relegation of his Belgrano side in 2019. Since that defeat in Asunción, Colón have only won one game in the league.
It’s a run of form that fans of Argentine football often acknowledge is normal when a team decides to throw everything at continental glory thus neglecting their league performance. The worrying thing for Colón is that this dip in domestic form has been so dreadful that unless they can come close to winning the Copa Superliga, which begins in three weeks, they look more and more unlikely to avoid the drop. Osella must feel like relegation from the top division is becoming his annual Groundhog Day moment.
On paper, Colón should be doing better. Less than a year ago, they splashed the cash like they were one of the wealthiest clubs in Argentina by bringing in Luis ‘Pulga’ Rodríguez, then top scorer in the league with Atlético Tucumán, and someone with his own history at Newell’s. They also won the race to sign Federico Lértora from Belgrano. Newell’s had coveted his services for a long time but Colón were simply able to offer more money. Newell’s fans were disappointed to miss out on Lértora but in hindsight, our manoeuvres in the transfer market have been much smarter. The spending didn’t stop there. Last month, they brought in high-profile players Lucas Viatri and Brian Fernández to bolster their attack and also signed Bruno Bianchi, once of Newell’s, to tighten things up at the back. Fernández was once one of the hottest talents in Argentina but has struggled with addiction issues, already gone AWOL from his new club and is unlikely to make his debut for Colón this weekend against Newell’s.
Despite Cólon’s failure to win a game since November, there are signs that their visit to Rosario won’t be as straightforward as La Lepra fans expect. Last weekend, they gained a point against champions Racing and Newell’s haven’t always had it easy when playing against teams who are in the midst of a losing streak. Cast your mind back to October when Diego Maradona returned to El Coloso del Parque with a Gimnasia side who had won one game in the previous eight. On that occasion, the Gimnasia players decided to put on a birthday party for their coach. He watched on from a throne while his players took Newell’s apart, winning by four goals (0-4) and registering their biggest league win for four years. Colón will take inspiration from that night, especially when you consider that Diego Osella has had many happy nights at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa in the past. Osella’s reign at Newell’s is seen in a positive light when you look at the coaches who took over at La Lepra between his spell and the appointment of Frank Kudelka before the start of this season. He was the Newell’s manager on the touchline when Maxi Rodríguez scored an injury-time winner at the Arroyito in October 2016 to give Newell’s a famous away win over Rosario Central in the Clásico Rosarino. Managers who can win away in the Clásico always leave some kind of legacy with fans of Newell’s Old Boys.
2020 has so far been kinder for Frank Kudelka with Newell’s yet to lose. Although injuries have depleted the squad, most recently the one which will keep Aníbal Moreno out of this match, the absences of a number of first-team players has created opportunities for those on the fringes. Facundo Nadalín and Pablo Pérez both impressed the last time out against Lanús so they’ll retain their places in the team while Sebastian Palacios is a no-brainer to start after his goal last weekend. Jerónimo Cacciabue will continue to work with the Reserve Team as he looks to build his fitness so Braian Rivero is likely to come in for Moreno in Kudelka’s only change.
With only two places separating both sides in the Promedios table, this is undoubtedly a relegation six-pointer. Redemption would be a less rocky path for Newell’s if they were to lose this one considering they still have to play lowly Godoy Cruz, the league’s bottom team, but a loss for Colón does seem quite terminal with Boca Juniors and Talleres their remaining opponents in the regular Superliga season.
📺 Watch Newell’s Old Boys v Colón: Live on Fanatiz
⏰ Kick-off: 21.45 ARG | 00.45 UK