The Argentine Primera Division is officially back with action getting underway on Thursday, and your home for all of the action is on Paramount+. The Matchday 1 slate will see both reigning champion River Plate and revived Boca Juniors make their debuts on the weekend, while intriguing early battles include Banfield and San Lorenzo on Friday night, with Estudiantes facing Independiente on Saturday night.
Independiente are a team to watch after losing Alan Velasco to FC Dallas, as the Avellaneda club will be counting on even more out of New Jersey native Alan Sonora, who is coming off an excellent season.
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Ahead of the action, here is the schedule and the five young players you need to know about.
All times Eastern
Patronato vs. Argentinos Juniors, 5:15 p.m.
Sarmiento vs. Atletico Tucuman, 5:15 p.m.
Central Cordoba vs. Barracas Central, 7:30 p.m.
Newell's vs. Defensa y Justicia, 7:30 p.m.
Arsenal vs. Rosario Central, 3 p.m.
Godoy Cruz vs. Tigre, 5:15 p.m.
Velez Sarsfield vs. Aldosivi, 5:15 p.m.
Banfield vs. San Lorenzo, 7:30 p.m.
Huracan vs. Lanus, 3 p.m.
Union vs. River Plate, 5:15 p.m.
Estudiantes vs. Independiente, 7:30 p.m.
Racing vs. Gimnasia, 3 p.m.
Platense vs. Talleres, 5:15 p.m.
Boca Juniors vs. Colon, 7:30 p.m.
Five players to know
1) Julian Alvarez, River Plate
Alvarez is by far the top talent in all of Argentina and easily the most exciting striker prospect to come out of the country since Lautaro Martinez, if not Carlos Tevez. And I think Alvarez has the higher ceiling. The 22-year-old forward is a polished, record-breaking striker who can destroy any first division defense he comes up against. He can beat you a variety of ways. He has pace and top technical ability, and it feels like before long we could be saying he is the best striker in the Premier League. Manchester City have already bought Alvarez but loaned him back to his Argentinian club until at least this summer. He's that good. Last season he scored 22 goals in 45 matches for River.
2) Facundo Farias, Colon
A 19-year-old who has dealt with more family tragedy at his age than most do their entire lives, he's an attacking midfielder who has seen his stock skyrocket. A mentally strong player, Farias had to deal with his mom dying from cancer when he was just 10 years old, and he just lost his 36-year-old father to COVID last year. Courted by both Boca and River, Farias has said he wants to stay at Colon to experience the Copa Libertadores with his club. He's versatile enough to play on either wing, and it seems a sure bet that he'll be in Europe before long. He's been balancing both the sport and helping raise his little sister. A huge burden for such a young player. He's creative and clinical on the ball and he has Argentina national team written all over his future.
3) Alan Sonora, Independiente
The son of former Boca Juniors and MLS player Diego Sonora, Alan Sonora is an American midfielder for Independiente and one of the club's most important players. A former youth club talent at Boca Juniors, he debuted in 2019 and is eligible to represent the United States men's national team. While he lacks size, he protects the ball well and has pace to evade defenders and create in attack.
4) Agustin Almendra, Boca Juniors
If you recognize Agustin Almendra's name it might be because he was linked with a move to Inter Miami before their inaugural season, Almendra is an exceptional midfielder for Boca who can fire home from range. With a ton of flair and pace, he's got a massive future ahead of himself, and like most of the players on this list it will likely be in Europe. With Boca now relying on more of their young talent in the midfield, expect a big season out of him as Boca look to win the title. He offers a bit of everything in the middle, but where he is best is rushing towards goal.
5) Jose Manuel Lopez, Lanus
The Lanus man has exploded onto the scene alongside veteran striker Pepe Sand, forming as good of a striker partnership as the league has. The 20-year-old forward was a youth player at Independiente before joining Lanus, and he's got 13 goals in 25 league matches to show for it. He's got some height to him, he's very good in the air, and he has a knack for finding pockets of space in the attacking third to set himself up for quick shots. With Diego Valeri back at Lanus, expect Lopez to have another strong season working off the vet's creative ability.