Defensa y Justicia v Newell’s Old Boys
Copa de la Liga 2021
13th March 2021
🏟️ Estadio Norberto “Tito” Tomaghello, Buenos Aires
After two years, Frank Kudelka’s 40th game in charge of Newell’s Old Boys against Defensa y Justicia on Saturday night (13 March) will be his last.
The club came to an agreement with the 59-year-old this week to terminate his contract early after an atrocious run of results in 2021. He gets one last chance to help Newell’s win their first game this year when La Lepra travel to Florencia Varela seeking to cause an upset against the current Copa Sudamericana champions.
Every team in Argentina seems like a difficult prospect for Newell’s right now but Defensa y Justicia have only lost 3 of their last 18 games and don’t seem to have lost any steam since the departure of Hernán Crespo, who joined São Paulo in February after the Sudamericana triumph.
In at El Halcón is a man that Newell’s know very well. Sebastián Beccacece is a noted fan of The Lepers and has come up against Kudelka’s men most recently as manager of Racing Club. He was still in charge at La Academia in January 2021, when Newell’s lost 3-1 away at Racing in the final game of the Copa Diego Maradona. Now in his third spell at Defensa, he has picked up where Crespo left off, winning 2 of his 4 games in charge (v Huracán and Patronato) with 1 draw and 1 defeat.
With the Newell’s players aware that their manager is leaving, to potentially be replaced by a well-respected figure of Argentine football (Germán ‘Mono’ Burgos), it’s hard to predict if their performance levels will rise with help on the horizon or if it’ll be more of the same from the struggling Lepers as long as Kudelka stands on the touchline.
It seems as though this current competition is already a write-off with Newell’s yet to win a game but the new manager, if it is indeed Burgos, will need to get the side playing well sooner rather than later, especially as the Copa Sudamericana 2021, which Newell’s will contest, begins in April. Added to that, although relegation has been suspended this year, a poor performance domestically would push Newell’s down the promedios table as promedio averages for 2021 will be taken into account when relegation is reintroduced in 2022.
It has been rumoured that Kudelka will hand a number of young players their full debuts on Saturday evening including forward Ramiro Sordo. Whether that’s a genuine message to the senior players who have let him down in recent games, or a wreckless final act, remains to be seen.
Defensa y Justicia v Newell’s Old Boys Team News
Jonatan ‘Churry’ Cristaldo may be handed his first start having made his debut as a substitute against Independiente last week.
Matías Orihuela and Braian Rivero have both been ruled out with injuries but Facundo Nadalín is back after missing the last few games. Franco Negri is likely to make his full debut in the absence of Orihuela. Justo Giani, who was sent off on his debut for Newell’s, returns to the squad after serving a suspension.
Mariano Bíttolo, Franco Escobar, Nicolás Castro, Francisco González and Santiago Gentiletti are all long-term injury absentees.
Defensa y Justicia have no significant injury worries. The strikeforce of Walter Bou and Braian Romero is likely to cause the Newell’s backline issues. Defensa could line-up with 3 former Newell’s players: Ezequiel Unsain, Gabriel Hachen and Eugenio Isnaldo, although Hachen hasn’t started a game since January and is normally used as an impact sub.
📺 Watch Defensa y Justicia v Newell’s on Saturday 13th March: Live on Fanatiz
⏰ Kick-off: 19.20 ARG | 22.20 UK