During a different week, Wednesday's Copa Libertadores match between Newell's Old Boys and Velez Sarsfield would be a marquee one, and nearly impossible to predict. At full strength, they're very evenly matched sides. However, these are not even circumstances. The first leg of their Round of 16 tie will be played in Rosario just five days after NOB defeated Velez 3-1 away in the Argentine Primera, and while Velez are dealing with serious injury problems.
The gap between the two legs of this tie is uncharacteristic -- they don't play the return leg until May 14 -- but Newell's might open up a lead that Velez find impossible to overturn in Buenos Aires. Gino Peruzzi, Fernando Tobio, Lucas Romero, Ivan Bella, Ariel Cabral, Fernando Gago and Facundo Ferreyra are all expected to miss out for Ricardo Gareca.
Velez has sold out the league in an attempt to win the Libertadores. They're currently 15th in Argentina after winning the 2012 Clausura, but they won their Libertadores group comfortably. Though they have won nine league titles overall and three since 2009, they have only one Libertadores title to their name. Unfortunately, it seems as though they've been bitten too hard by the fitness bug to contend for another title.
Newell's, on the other hand, have no serious injury concerns. They rested their top striker, Ignacio Scocco at the weekend and managed to score three goals anyway. Scocco has a nagging foot injury, but is expected to be fit to start after sitting out over the weekend.
While some of Velez's key players should return by the time the second leg comes around, their backups will have a very hard time keeping this tie interesting. Newell's manager Gerardo Martino has his team playing spectacular football, and his Paraguay sides were experts at keeping clean sheets. An away goal would give Velez a lifeline, even if they suffer a multiple goal defeat, but they will struggle to find it.