Thursday, April 28, 2016

Entertaining first leg between Racing and Atlético Mineiro

Last but not least, I got the pleasure to report on another goalless draw today. 2 goals in 5 copa Libertadores round of 16 matches are not too impressive for the viewer, so let us hope it gets better tonight during the last three games. Racing Club and Atlético Mineiro could not find a winner last night.

Two of the night's best players fight for the ball: Romero vs Urso. (Photo: Conmebol)
28.000 people came out to see the clash between the Argentine and Brazilian giants. Despite its goallessness, the game turned out pretty entertaining as well. 


Regular Ricardo Noir returned for Racing compared to their last Copa Libertadores game against Bolívar. On the bench for him: Gastón Díaz. He was sitting next to Diego Milito, by the way. Atlético Mineiro made two changes from the side that beat Melgar 4-0. Leonardo Silva came in for Tiago, while Jesús Dátolo replaced Juan Cazares in a central attacking midfield role. 

First half

Óscar Romero was the first one to attempt a shot on the night and saw his shot from a far distance fly over the crossbar. Racing continued to pile on the pressure early on and was nearly rewarded during a set piece. Romero's lovely cross found the head of centre-back Nico Sánchez, but Victor made the save right on his goalline. 

On the other side, Lucas Pratto tested Sebastián Saja who had struggled especially early in the season, but made a comfortable save this time around. Both teams did not manage to do all that much from open play, but continuously threatened from set pieces. Racing's Leandro Grimi had the ball in the back of the net, but was correctly called back for offside. 

A first really well played attack for Mineiro ended wide left of Saja's goal. Robinho had opened up a lot of room and played it out to the left for Jesús Dátolo. His cross was met by Júnior Urso's head, who could not direct it on target. 

Second half

The theme from the first half seemed to continue right away. Romero, who had a fine game, once again had the first opportunity of the second 45 minutes. This time, a direct freekick flew dangerously towards the far post and was dealt with in the last second by Victor. 

In the following minutes, some idiotic home fans thought it was a good idea to throw lighters at opposing players. Robinho got hit on the shoulder by one of those objects. The referee had to ask captain Saja to calm down the home crowd enough to be able to execute a corner. 

The Argentine's game improved a little and let to chances from open play as well. Grimi's shot was saved by a backpaddling Victor, Marcos Acuña's solo run and cross from the left side found no takers in the middle. Atlético Mineiro's offense was fully powered by Robinho and Pratto. The latter had all the chances at the end and just missed with an effort from inside the area. 

Up and down the pitch, the game was really entertaining in the second half and saw Lisandro López miss the best chance of them all. The experiences striker fired his shot against the near post. Saja made one more magnificent save on the other side, stopping Urso from getting his goal.


Both teams had their chances to win this game, none used them. It is very hard to imagine that the second leg will end goalless again with all the chances that were being missed today. So who profits the most from a 0-0 draw? Probably Racing since a scoring draw away in Brazil would be enough for them. Striker Diego Milito might even return into the lineup to add some valuable experience on that day. 

Robinho and Pratto looked really good as Mineiro's up-front partnership, constantly supported by Urso's runs. At home, they still have every chance to advance.


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