This article courtesy of GOLAZO ARGENTINO
Newell’s Old Boys stand on the brink of the club’s greatest ever campaign as they have already bagged the Torneo Final and tomorrow night face Atletico Miniero, in the Copa Libertadores Semi Final. Gerardo Martino’s free scoring side have been the top side in Argentina this term, and have already seen off Argentine competition in this year’s competition, in the form of Velez Sarsfield and Boca Juniors but their Brazilian opposition will prove their toughest test yet. Losing on Saturday in the Argentinian Superfinal to Velez Sarsfield should have little bearing on this game as the Libertadores would always have been the priority and with a full squad available Newell’s will not be in better shape to reach the final.
Route to the Semi
Newell’s didn’t have the smoothest of rides in the early stages of this year’s competition and at one stage looked in danger of being eliminated from their group but managed to come through in the runners up spot behind another of this year’s Semi Finalists, Olimpia of Paraguay. It was against Olimpia that Newell’s kicked off their campaign and a 3-1 win in Rosario set them on their way but defeats away to Deportivo Lara and at home to Universidad de Chile left them in a precarious position at the half way stage. However, two wins in the reverse fixtures, firstly a 2-0 win in Chile and then a 3-1 in Rosario against Lara meant that they would qualify in second place and so the heavy 4-1 defeat in Paraguay in the final fixture made little difference.
Finishing second meant that Newell’s were seeded 12th out of the 16 teams who qualified and were paired with fellow Argentinian side, Velez Sarsfield, who had comfortably topped their group. What followed was a tight two legged affair decided by the narrowest of margins. Velez won 1-0 in Rosario leaving Newell’s knowing that they would need to win in Liniers and ensure that they bettered Velez’s 1-0 scoreline. Two weeks later, in Liniers, they did just that with goals from Milton Casco and Ignacio Scocco giving them a 2-1 win and an away goals victory. This was Scocco’s fifth of the campaign, leaving him a goal behind Miniero pair, Diego Tardelli and Jo in the goal scorers charts.
The Quarter final saw further Argentine opposition, this time in the form of last year’s beaten finalists, Boca Juniors. Two rather dull and tense games could find no winner and so penalties were the only solution. A mammoth shootout was finally won by Newell’s 10-9 after both sides had spurned several opportunities to win.
It hasn’t been vintage stuff on the way to the semi finals but Newell’s have perfectly juggled their league commitments, winning the Torneo Final with room to spare and finding themselves here, one tie away from the final.
Newell’s have everyone available following Saturday’s defeat in the Superfinal, except the long term injury to Hernan Villalba. Ignacio Scocco, Gabriel Heinze, Santiago Vergini, Horacio Orzán and Rinaldo Cruzado will all be available despite contract talks ongoing and so we should see a full strength side.
Nahuel Guzman; Marcos Caceres, Santiago Vergini, Gabriel Heinze, Milton Casco; Pablo Perez, Lucas Bernardi, Rinaldo Cruzado; Victor Figueroa, Ignacio Scocco, Maxi Rodriguez
• What has perhaps made Newell’s so watchable this season has been how open they have been. The league’s top goal scorers have generally looked to outscore their opponents and so they do not have the greatest defensive record. In Atletico Miniero they will be facing the top scorers in the competition and the defence will need to be on form to halt the Brazilians, particularly tomorrow night in Rosario, to avoid the away goal.
• Two of the biggest factors behind Newell’s current success are manager, Gerardo Martino and striker, Ignacio Scocco. The Copa Libertadores will be their final games for the club and what better way than leading the club all the way. Martino and Scocco are both destined for bigger things and a Copa Libertadores winners medal would look great on the CV.
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