Newell’s Old Boys v Independiente
Copa de la Liga 2021
5th March 2021
🏟️ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, Rosario
“We’re still looking for the ideal eleven” said Newell’s manager Frank Kudelka during the week when asked about his rotation policy that has seen a different team line out for La Lepra in all three Copa de la Liga matches so far.
Despite that, he suggested that game 4, against Independiente on Friday night, will see the fewest changes to the team so far. A much improved performance in the 2-2 draw with Talleres confirmed that the centre-back pairing of Manuel Capasso and Cristian Lema is settling while full-back Matías Orihula, filling in for Mariano Bíttolo, was particularly impressive and will keep his place. Pablo Pérez, coming on as a substitute in that match, gave the team something extra and Kudelka hinted that he’d start against his former club Independiente.
That draw against Talleres, which Newell’s might have won if they’d kept eleven men on the pitch, seems to have bought Kudelka some time in the job but if Newell’s don’t win a match soon, there’s a feeling that his position will be under the spotlight once again.
Independiente, on the other hand, have been quietly putting together a run of results in the Copa de la Liga with two 1-0 wins over Patronato and Gimnasia after an opening day defeat to Lanús. In saying that, the football hasn’t been pretty, they’ve struggled for goals and many El Rojo fans think that appointing veteran coach Julio César Falcioni was revisionist rather than progressive. Falcioni has managed a long-list of clubs in Argentina, including Independiente back in 2005-2006, and four separate spells at Banfield.
Sebastián Palacios, a key player for Newell’s last season while on loan at Independiente, is back at his parent club and is firmly in Falcioni’s plans, having started their last two games. Kudelka said in his press conference on Wednesday that he wanted to keep ‘Tucu’ at Newell’s but that the club couldn’t afford him. He praised his ability but added that he hoped he had an off-day against La Lepra on Friday.
Newell’s v Independiente Team News
Jonatan ‘Churry’ Cristaldo has been called up to the squad for the first time since joining from Racing Club. Kudelka said on Wednesday that he’d be fit to start on the bench but wasn’t ready to play a full match yet.
Justo Giani is suspended after receiving a straight red card last week against Talleres.
Mariano Bíttolo, Facundo Nadalín, Franco Escobar, Nicolás Castro, Francisco González and Santiago Gentiletti are all on the injury list.
The big news from the Independiente camp is that their talented 18-year-old midfielder Alan Velasco, who has been tipped for stardom, is out of the game after testing positive for COVID-19. He is joined on the sidelines by American-born Alan Soñora (muscle strain), whose brother Joel provided an assist for Talleres’ equaliser against Newell’s last weekend.
📺 Watch Newell’s v Independiente on Friday 5th March: Live on Fanatiz
⏰ Kick-off: 19.15 ARG | 22.15 UK