Newell’s Old Boys v Boca Juniors
Copa de la Liga 2021
21st February 2021
🏟️ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, Rosario
In an ideal world, Newell’s might have had an easier game to follow the opening day defeat to Vélez in this season’s Copa de la Liga, but the champions Boca Juniors are in town on Sunday night. They are also in search of their first win of the campaign having drawn 2-2 at home to Gimnasia last weekend.
Like Vélez last week, Boca are very familiar opponents to La Lepra and the teams met both home and away in November 2020. In the home leg at El Coloso, Boca were 0-2 victors despite Newell’s winning the possession battle. Later on in the month at La Bombonera, just days after the death of Diego Maradona, Miguel Angel Russo’s side were inspired by an Edwin Cardona double to run out 2-0 winners over Newell’s again.
As we now know, Boca Juniors went on to win the competition, which became known as the Copa Diego Maradona after Maradona’s passing, so there was no great shame in those defeats, especially as Newell’s constantly struggled with injuries and absences.
While Boca haven’t made any wholesale changes to the squad that were crowned champions, apart from the signing of former Manchester United player Marcos Rojo, Newell’s have certainly upgraded personnel since November.
Gone are the defensive duo of Guanini and Fontanini, who partnered the injured Santiago Gentiletti in the defeats against Boca and in are the duo of Yonathan Cabral and Manuel Capasso who already look a tighter unit. Newell’s also announced the signing of Cristian Lema this week, who returns to the club after a miserable spell abroad in Saudi Arabia. Lema excelled as Newell’s first-choice centre-back in 2019 but hasn’t trained yet with the squad so will be unavailable against Boca.
Newell’s v Boca Team News
Pablo Pérez is suspended after receiving a red card last week and is likely to be replaced in midfield by Julián Fernández who started on the substitutes’ bench last week.
Santiago Gentiletti is still injured as is Franco Escobar, who underwent foot surgery this week and is not expected back for at least a couple of months.
New signing Jonatan Cristaldo is not yet fit to be included in the match-day squad.
The returning Fernando Belluschi will likely appear on the bench for the first time but the big call for Frank Kudelka will be whether he starts Maxi Rodríguez or uses him as a second half substitute, as he did last week against Vélez. Enzo Cabrera is tipped to be in with a chance of starting in a front three with Scocco and Julián Marcioni if Maxi is left out.
Boca have close to a fully fit squad (bar the unfit Marcos Rojo) and are likely to field the same 11 that drew with Gimnasia. Campuzano may start instead of Varela but otherwise it’ll be unchanged.
📺 Watch Newell’s v Boca on Sunday 21 February: Live on Fanatiz
⏰ Kick-off: 21.30 ARG | 00.30 UK