Racing (5th) v Newell’s (6th)
28th February 2020
🏟️ El Cilindro, Avellaneda
Sebastián Beccacece caused shockwaves in Argentine football when he was announced as Racing Club’s new manager on the last day of 2019. Two months previously, he had been sacked by the Avellaneda club’s arch-rivals Independiente after a horrid run of form. It’s a bit like that time Mauricio Pochettino was linked with Arsenal after being relieved of his duties at Spurs, except Beccacece does not yet have the credentials that El Poche had built up during his time in North London. After making a name for himself as Jorge Sampaoli’s number two at a range of clubs and national teams which included both Chile and Argentina, he went out on his own as a manager and led Defensa y Justicia to a very impressive 2018-19 campaign where they finished runners-up in the Superliga to his current team, Racing. In the period between between leaving Defensa y Justicia and his ill-fated spell at Independiente, he came close to taking the reigns at the club he has supported since he was a boy – Newell’s Old Boys.
As it turns out, Frank Kudelka was the man that La Lepra chose to take them forward, and it’s looking like an astute appointment. Beccacece’s start at Racing has done wonders for a reputation dented by his Copa Sudamericana exit with Independiente and a run of form that saw losses against Patronato, Argentinos Juniors, Estudiantes and Vélez Sarsfield. At Racing, it’s so far so good, with no losses since taking over although they haven’t scored more than one goal in any of those games. That doesn’t matter too much to Racing fans, however. What really matters is beating Independiente in the Clásico de Avellaneda and Beccacece did just that at the first time of asking in a high-tempered match on 9 Febuary.
For Beccacece, who has been open about his passion for Newell’s, Frank Kudelka’s side pose a different threat and this week in a press conference he praised his opposite number for “bringing calm” to the team he supports.
Kudelka might not be as calm as he would be if he had a fully fit squad to select from. With a mini injury-crisis currently threatening to affect the good run of form that his team have put together, he will be forced to do a bit of reshuffling on Friday night.
Facundo Nadalín, who had impressed when filling in for Angelo Gabrielli at right-back, has been ruled out for 3 weeks. This leaves Kudelka with no natural replacement in that position. He made it clear in a mid-week press conference that he wouldn’t be looking to promote a player from the youth team to play in this position and would prefer to play a senior player in an unfamiliar position. That player is likely to be central midfielder Braian Rivero who started in that position in the 4-0 win over Colón. That leaves a gap in the midfield and Kudelka is tipped to bring in Denis Rodríguez, of the Rodríguez dynasty, to play in that role, alongside Pablo Pérez and Julián Fernández. Aníbal Moreno and Mauro Formica are still unavailable while Jéronimo Cacciabue continues to play with the reserve team ahead of completing his comeback from injury.
With similar defensive records, Newell’s can take motivation from the fact that they have scored seven more goals than Racing this season despite Racing being one point ahead of them in the league table. The likely Newell’s front three, Palacios, Leal and Maxi, have all scored in recent games while Racing’s Lisandro López, who is set to lead the line for La Academia on Friday night, has only hit the net four times this season; a disappointing return compared to his 17 goals in the previous campaign. Racing have home advantage but don’t forget that Newell’s have already won away in Avellaneda this season (2-3 against Independiente). Both coaches will be keen to hold onto their 2020 unbeaten record but seasoned punters might look to a score draw as the likely result.
📺 Watch Racing v Newell’s : Live on Fanatiz
⏰ Kick-off: 19.00 ARG | 22.00 UK