After a thrilling Copa Libertadores semifinal victory over Palmeiras last Thursday, Boca Juniors can improve their chances of qualifying for the Copa Libertadores again the following season when they visit Estadio Julio Cesar Villagra on Tuesday for a match against Belgrano in the second phase of the Argentine Primera Division season.
El Celeste is currently in second place in Group B, two points behind Central Cordoba after a 0-0 draw at Talleres, while Boca are currently in 11th place, seven points from seven games, and four points out of the second round of the Libertadores after losing their most recent domestic match 2-0 to archrivals River Plate.
Belgrano had a miserable end to the first half of the league season, going scoreless in their final six games and earning just two points during that span.
This round, however, the team has looked completely different domestically, going unbeaten in seven straight games and conceding no goals in their last four.
Throughout the 2023 season, Guillermo Farre’s side have demonstrated that they belong in the Primera Division with the big boys, presently just a point from a place in the Copa Sudamericana next year, in what is their first season in Argentina’s top flight since 2018-19.
Belgrano are not the most aggressive team in the top division, but they are one of the most well-organized, currently tied for the second-fewest goals surrendered in this stage of the campaign (three).
El Pirata has been most effective when playing in front of their home crowd, scoring the second-most goals in Group B (eight), including six at Estadio Julio Cesar Villagra.
Belgrano haven’t allowed a goal at home in the first 45 minutes of this competition since a 1-0 loss to San Lorenzo on matchday 25 in the first round, and they’ve only trailed once in this round, for less than 10 minutes on matchday two (2-2 draw at San Lorenzo).
As strong as their form has been in this phase, they have squandered chances to move up the table, wasting second-half leads against San Lorenzo and Newell’s Old Boys (1-1), losing four points as a result.
Xeneize have a chance to break Brazil’s domination in the Copa Libertadores and become the first team from outside the Brasileiro Serie A to win the prestigious title since 2018.
Before they can think about tying Independiente for most Libertadores titles, Jorge Almiron’s side has a lot of work to do at home, where they now sit fourth from the bottom in Group B.
Boca Juniors has now experienced 13 defeats this season in 34 league matches in phases one and two, five more than they did in 2022.
All of those defeats came after this squad conceded the first goal, with Xeneize failing to respond to ten of them.
In the first round of this tournament, they failed to score in over half of their road games (6/13) and have not improved much in that department this season, having been shut out in two of their three domestic away games.
Azul y Oro, on the other hand, has a great track record against Belgrano, having only lost one of their previous nine matches in all competitions against the club from Cordoba, while only losing twice on the road against them in ten prior meetings.
Due to a muscle injury, Matias Garcia is not anticipated to return to the Belgrano lineup until mid-October, while they only made one alteration to their starting 11 from matchday six to matchday seven, with Facundo Lencioni replacing Lautaro Pastran.
Nahuel Losada has four consecutive clean sheets for El Celeste, who have only scored once in three games this round without Pablo Vegetti, who was loaned to Vasco da Gama in August after scoring 12 times for Belgrano in the first half of the Primera campaign.
Lucas Passerini (four goals) scored half of their goals in the second round, since he, Matias Marin, and Alejandro Rebola were the last players to score for them in this competition when they defeated Platense 3-0 on matchday five.
Only two Boca players remained in the starting 11 from matchday six to seven in the Primera Division, as Sergio Romero and Marcelo Weigandt both played the entire 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Lanus and a 2-1 loss at home to River Plate.
Lucas Janson has scored in two of their previous three domestic games, and he, Lucas Blondel, and Dario Benedetto all scored in their sole league win away from home in this round, a 3-0 success against Central Cordoba.
Edinson Cavani scored for Boca for the second time in all competitions against Palmeiras on Thursday, and while he missed his penalty shootout attempt, Raphael Veiga and Gustavo Gomez also missed for Palestra, with Guillermo Fernandez converting the winning kick to send Azul y Oro into the Copa Libertadores final.
Belgrano possible starting lineup:
Losada; Barinaga, Rebola, Godoy, Ibacache; Sanchez, Longo, Rolon, Marin; Pastran, Passerini
Boca Juniors possible starting lineup:
Romero; Roncaglia, Valdez, Valentini, Barco; Campuzano; E. Fernandez, Bullaude, Medina, Janson; Benedetto