Boca Juniors will face this Tuesday the first leg of the round of 16 of the CONMEBOL Libertadores with just two friendlies behind them and several youths in their possible starting eleven, quite the opposite of their rival, the Brazilian Atlético Mineiro, who arrives at La Bombonera in full regular season and with more experienced players.
Xeneize, which has not played an official match since May 31, returns to the Libertadores with significant casualties and without its last great idol, Carlos Tevez, who said goodbye to the club of his life on June 4.
Among those who will not be available for Boca Juniors are winger Frank Fabra, on leave for personal reasons; starting midfielder Agustín Almendra, injured in the last friendly against Sarmiento; and Edwin Cardona, who took a few days off to visit his family in Colombia after his participation in the Copa América.
At a press conference, coach Miguel Ángel Russo affirmed this Friday that the balance of the preseason, both in terms of signings and the team’s set-up, was “very good”, despite having a good number of players without too much experience in the elite.
“The balance is good, we have worked in the intensity that we were looking for. The new ones were incorporated well, the only regrettable thing was Almendra’s injury, which are situations that occur and we must know how to face them,” he said.
Coach Xeneize took advantage of the occasion to criticize the Argentine soccer calendar, since his Brazilian rival will arrive in a better state of form in this tie: in the last 40 days, Atlético Mineiro played 12 official matches; Boca Juniors, on the other hand, only two friendlies.
“In January, when others rest, we compete, and now we rest and they continue to compete (…). It is detrimental to Argentine football, not to Boca nothing else. In general, it is not ideal,” he said.
Boca Juniors went to the knockout stages of the continental tournament after qualifying second in group C: in six games, Xeneize achieved three wins, one draw and two losses.
A performance very different from that of Atlético Mineiro, which comes to this match after taking first place in group H, where they achieved five victories and a draw.
The Brazilian team, which had complications from a coronavirus outbreak in June, will arrive at La Bombonera in good shape, since it is playing an average of one match every three days.
Cuca’s men are third in the Brazilian Serie A and accumulate four consecutive victories, the last of them this Sunday, when they beat América Futebol Clube (1-0) by the minimum of visitor.
In addition, among the players who traveled to Buenos Aires will be the former River Plate player Nacho Fernández, one of the offensive references of the Brazilian team, although his presence in the eleven is unknown after coming out of injury.
BOCA JUNIORS: Agustín Rossi, Marcelo Weigandt, Carlos Izquierdoz, Marcos Rojo, Agustín Sandez, Esteban Rolón, Cristian Medina, Diego González, Cristian Pavón, Sebastián Villa and Norberto Briasco. Coach: Miguel Ángel Russo.
ATHLETIC MINEIRO: Éverson, Tchê Tchê, Réver, Junior Alonso, Igor Rabello, Mariano Ferreira, Allan, Jair Rodrigues, Matías Zaracho, Hulk and Jefferson Savarino. Coach: Alexi Stival “Cuca”.
REFEREE: the Colombian Andrés Rojas, assisted by the Paraguayans Milcíades Saldivar and Eduardo Cardozo.
STADIUM: The Bombonera.