River Plate host compatriots Lanus in Tuesday’s huge Copa Libertadores semi final, first leg. Both outfits arrive in good shape and will be looking to place one foot in the final.
River’s quest to pick up what would be a fourth Libertadores title looked over in the last round, as they fell 3-0 behind in the first leg of their quarter final tie with Wilstermann. Several key departures had destabilised the squad prior to it, but they managed to rally and put in a historic performance in the second leg, winning 8-0 in front of the home crowd, with front man Ignacio Scocco rattling in a remarkable 5 goals.
Scocco, who was a replacement for the outgoing Lucas Alario and Sebastián Driussi is becoming something of a cult figure at the club, having now scored 10 goals in his first 13 appearances. The 32 year old has played his part in Marcelo Gallardo’s side’s 7 match unbeaten run since the Wilstermann defeat, helping put Los Millonarios into the semi-finals of the Argentine Cup as well as giving them a current standing of 2nd in the league.
Nonetheless, continental action remains the main priority for River, as it does for Lanus, who take to the field in peak condition after recovering from an irregular start to their own domestic campaign.
El Granate had lost their opening two league games, but have now won 5 on the bounce across all competitions, lifting them up to 5th in the domestic table and seeing them overturn a two goal deficit in the last round of the Libertadores, against city rivals San Lorenzo. Jorge Almirón’s team have never made it this far in the competition, and will be looking to write more history by picking up a positive result in this first leg.
This should be a good game, played in front of a packed out Monumental. River fans are expectant ahead of the match, but know they face a strong opponent in the form of Lanus.
Backing both sides to hit the net looks the way to play at a big price of 5/4. The bookmakers seem to have underestimated the potential for goals due to the sheer nature of Libertadores semi-finals, which tend to be tight affairs, but both teams are extremely attack minded and will push men forward where possible.
River have scored an average of 2.2 goals a game over their last 5, whilst Lanus have averaged 1.8 over the same period. Both sides have found the net in River’s last two home games against far weaker opponents than Lanus, in the form of Argentinos Juniors and Atletico Tucuman, and the visitors certainly pack a punch big enough to hurt the hosts.
Nonetheless, with the crowd behind them, River are a strong home side, and we do fancy them to establish a narrow 2-1 advantage ahead of the second leg, something which you can get behind at a tasty price of 17/2.
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