Ecuadorian side El Nacional host Argentines Atletico Tucuman on Tuesday night in the preliminary qualification rounds of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier continental competition.
It’s all to play for following last weeks’ 2-2 draw on Argentine soil. Tucuman were the heavy favourites but threw away the lead twice, with the second El Nacional equaliser coming late on in the 84th minute. Atletico dominated the game, wracking up a massive 16 corners but their inexperience on the continental stage was exposed and they now face an uphill battle as regards advancing to the next round.
El Nacional have plenty of experience on the continental front. They have competed in the Libertadores on 23 occasions prior to this years edition. That being said, the last of those appearances was in 2012, so they will be hungry to make the most of the opportunity to advance following last weeks hard earned draw. El Rojo qualified for this years competition by finishing 3rd in the 2016 aggregate table, with an overall record of 17-14-13.
By contrast Atletico Tucuman have absolutely no history in the competition. Their qualification was quite a controversial one as they and Independiente became enthralled in a furious debate about how the extra spot competition organisers CONMEBOL gave to Argentina should be allocated. In short terms, in the early part of 2016 the Argentine league played a short, transitional tournament with 30 teams split into two groups of 15, with each team playing each other once. AFA had planned this on the basis of having 4 teams qualifying for the Libertadores, but when the extra spot became available, both Independiente and Tucuman demanded it on the basis of finishing third in their zone. Despite Independiente protesting that a play-off was required to settle the debate, AFA decided that Tucuman were the side to be given the spot, on the basis that they had won 3 more points than El Rojo, with an overall record of 9-3-4. In the current Argentina season, Atletico are not giving such a good performance, sitting in 13th place with a record of 5-2-7.
El Nacional have been dealt a massive blow in the build up to the game. Number 1 goalkeeper Johan Padilla, the man mainly responsible for keeping El Rojo in the game last week, will miss out after undergoing foot surgery. Boss Eduardo Favaro fielded a reserve side at the weekend, in the opening round of league action, and was punished for doing so with a 3-0 defeat away at Fuerza Amarilla. That being said, the loss will pail into insignificance if they can get the win tonight, and aside from Padilla there are no injury concerns, meaning the following eleven is likely.
Cárdenas; Montaño, Guerra, Quiñónez, López; Larrea, Garcés, Cordero, Ordóñez; Balda, Borja.
All of Atletico Tucuman’s focus has been on this game with the Argentine season yet to resume. They haven’t played since last weeks tie, although friendlies prior to that game saw them take decent draws against Avellaneda rivals Racing and Independiente. We expect them to take to the field with the following as possible starters:
Lucchetti; Di Plácido, Bianchi, Canuto, Evangelista; Leyes, Aliendro, Acosta, Barbona, González; Zampedri
This tie really could go either way. Tucuman lack experience on this stage and now also have to factor in playing at high altitude, with the game being played at 2800 metres above sea level. On the other hand, El Nacional are missing their first choice GK and his replacement can hardly be brimming with confidence after conceding twice, giving away a penalty and subsequently being sent off over the weekend. We can see goals at each end, Tucuman need at least one to have any chance of progressing, and we fancy them to get one against a reserve goalkeeper. Equally on home soil and with a favourable climate we imagine that El Nacional will get themselves on the scoresheet.
Pick. Both Teams to Score @2.00 with bet365
Be sure to follow us on twitter- @samericantips.