The early leaders in the first phase of the Argentine Primera Division, San Lorenzo, can stretch their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions when they travel to Estadio Marcelo Bielsa to face Newell’s Old Boys on Monday.
La Lepra came from behind last week to salvage a 1-1 draw with Colon, while Los Santos were convincing 4-0 winners over Gimnasia in their previous domestic encounter.
With rumours swirling about the potential return of Argentine legend Lionel Messi to Newell’s, his boyhood club, the team will have to turn their attention to this competition, where they have an opportunity to close the five-point gap between themselves and the league leaders.
Gabriel Heinze, a former teammate of Messi with the Argentine national team, has seen his players look sharp and organised on the backline at home, without a goal conceded in three league fixtures at Estadio Marcelo Bielsa.
Old Boys have only allowed one goal in their last six home fixtures in this competition, while playing San Lorenzo to a 0-0 draw in this exact fixture a season ago.
They are particularly strong at protecting leads, having posted a clean sheet in every league game this season in which they scored first.
In their two Primera defeats this season, Heinze has seen his group struggle to slow down their opponents in transition, while his players have often been manhandled in aerial duels.
Fresh off their highest top-flight finish since 2019-20 when they came in ninth a season ago, expectations are understandably high for a team currently holding onto the final spot in the Copa Sudamericana, a competition they will be competing in later this year.
In his second stint as manager of San Lorenzo, Ruben Dario Insua cannot have too many complaints about how his side have begun the new domestic campaign.
Los Cuervos have picked up 16 points after seven Primera fixtures, their best start to a top-flight season since 2015 (18).
San Lorenzo have been the stingiest defensive unit in the league to this point of the season, conceding a mere three goals, all of which have come away from home.
They come into this game having won five of their last six matches in all competitions, with their lone setback being a 1-1 draw at Huracan, while outscoring their opponents by a margin of 11-1 over that stretch.
Despite being so sharp defensively, San Lorenzo are by no means passive in their approach, attempting plenty of shots from all over the field while looking particularly dangerous when attacking down the left.
The club from the Boedo district of Buenos Aires are unbeaten in their last three matches in all competitions versus Old Boys, earning a 2-1 victory against them in Rosario last season at the Copa de la Liga Professional.
Newell’s will be without Fabian Angel, who has a sore knee, Armando Mendez is still recovering from his broken arm, Marco Campagnaro and Francisco Gonzalez are out long-term with ACL injuries, while Genaro Rossi remains sidelined because of a muscle strain.
Jorge Recalde notched his first of the campaign in their previous league game, while Lucas Hoyos helped his team preserve a point, stopping Jorge Benitez from the penalty spot a few minutes after Old Boys had levelled the match with Colon at 1.
Hoyos only had to make two stops in their previous home fixture when they defeated Baracas Central 1-0 thanks to a first-half strike from Facundo Mansilla, which was set up by Brian Aguirre, who is tied for the league lead in assists (three).
San Lorenzo are missing Jeremias James, who has an ACL injury, while Andres Vombergar will not be available as he was called up to the Slovenian national team for their Euro qualifiers next week.
Nahuel Barrios and Agustin Giay, meanwhile, both sat out of their previous league fixture because of red card suspensions.
A brace from Nicolas Blandi and a goal by Rafael Perez gave them a 3-0 victory over Sarmiento Resistencia in the Copa Argentina on Wednesday, while Augusto Batalla collected his second successive clean sheet in all competitions.
Adam Bareiro scored twice in their previous league match versus Gimnasia, with the other goals coming courtesy of Vombergar and Gaston Hernandez.
Newell’s Old Boys possible starting lineup:
Hoyos; Mosquera, Ditta, Mansilla, Pitton; Gomez, Sforza, Menendez; Reasco, Recalde, Aguirre
San Lorenzo possible starting lineup:
Batalla; Gattoni, Perez, Hernandez; Leguizamon, Elias, Martegani, Braida; Blandi, Bareiro, Cerutti