Atlanta’s effectiveness to resolve on the Villa Crespo- San Martín derby has come to a key point by having broken Chacarita Juniors’ 17 year old unbeaten streak at Villa Maipú. The result leaves Atlanta 1 point behind the leader, Nueva Chicago, and with high points regarding their gameplay.
Atlanta’s victory at Chacarita Juniors’ Villa Maipú stadium comes at a newfound high point as Cassano’s (Mendez’ inherited) team beat their derby rivals by two goals in an afternoon where after many classics, Chacarita’s unbeaten streak has been broken.
The first 20 minutes were a spell of dominance for Chacarita Juniors, whose 4-3-1-2 formation managed to get more offensive against Cassano’s 4-3-3 formation. Rosso’s speed along with Lentini’s capacity were a difficulty against an Atlanta side who struggled to get passes straight, with particularly poor performances from Juan Galeano and Julián Perujo, who was constantly outspeeded on the left by Rosso. After the first twenty minutes were laid, along with a beatiful save from a header by Lentini with Vega’s one-hander, fortunes began to change.
What were the bases for this kind of change? First and foremost a tightening of the midfield lines by both Galeano and Sardella, with both players taking Chacarita’s midfielders on the back and over their feet. Also, reinforced efforts by Galeano not to lose the ball and come out clean on each 50/50, and Maraschi’s and Lazzarini’s efforts to come back to the midfield and work their way up with the ball while Godoy dragged the Chacarita defensemen along. Yet the efforts were not enough, as most shoots were out of range and access to the area was difficult on behalf of Racca’s zealous deffensive work. Pelaez’s advances and tight work on the first half made the Chacarita players try down the right lane where Perujo stood, while struggling to get a hold, which performance started to look much better once Perujo started anticipating Chacarita’s plays by stepping up and pressing in each possible situation on both sides of the player.
On half time the situation changed drastically with a substitution that was crucial to Atlanta’s gameplay: Lazzarini left to make place for Palisi. An improbable change when the game is a draw, changing the formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, moving Galeano from central midfielder to right mid fielder, and leaving two strikers with such different capacities such as Godoy and Maraschi to play together (mind that Maraschi is a winger/ attacking midfielder who usually dives into the area with one-two’s or straight runs, whilst Godoy is a player that usually plays inside the area waiting for floating passes and runs outside the area to get defenders off the remaining strikers). Why is this so particularly confusing, or was it at that time? Because Galeano and Lazzarini were doing decent work, yet Lazzarini had struggled too much to get to the area. Roughing the game down the middle of the field was not an option due to some very decent defensive skills by Racca, Rocaniere and Nizzo to stop any associated-play moves. Yet taking a striker out when Chacarita had so many chances on the first half, all made dangerous by Lentini, was like taking the feed off the pedal.
Yet, I must admit, we were wrong. Taking Lazzarini off was key to the result: it gave strength to the midfield, as Palisi shared defensive responsabilities with Galeano and Sardella (Guzmán has no defensive skills, and had struggled too much with Paredes on the first half and had been hit on many occasions). Palisi also organised the midfield in a good way, starting to work the sides with an unusually decent Galeano once he understood that losing the ball was not an option, and with a hurt yet strong spirited Guzmán and Maraschi. Godoy got assisted by both three players and started hurting Chacarita’s defense. All of this was also helped by an injury by Otarola (Chaca’s goalkeeper) who got hurt after a split aerial challenge with (short heighted) Maraschi.
On the tenth minute of the second half, after a place kick Godoy got to head the ball by surprise into Chaca’s goal with a still struck Otarola, yet due to the dubious situation within the area, the goal was wrongly attributed to an own goal by Nizzo. After that, Atlanta’s game began to grow and six minutes later, after a well placed short pass by Guzmán, a free off-pressing Sardella struck a beautiful shot from outside the area to the lower right angle and put the game 2-0.
Chacarita, on the period between the beginning of the second half up until the 30th minute looked struck and confused. This was not helped by Rosso’s sending off after a very childish kick on Perujo after he went off the field after the play, which got him immediately red carded. Two minutes after that, Chacarita’s manager el gato Leeb was sent off for swearing and complaining to the referee.
On the last fifteen minutes Chacarita, commanded by Lentini put the foot on the pedal once again, and with one less player, started pushing the lines forward up struggling to draw up until the end, whilst Lentini got on the scoresheet on the 90th minute. Yet many of Chacarita’s players were still shellshocked and the result was unattainable. Having said that, rather than celebrating in a wrong fashion, players from both teams shook hands and the celebrations were set in place to happen in Villa Crespo once the team went back. That was the end of a 17 year old unbeaten local streak for Chacarita, and yet another good result for Atlanta to get one point behind Nueva Chicago (42 points), and five points above the third team in the challenge, Platense.
Cassano’s switch at half-time left everyone speechless: drop fast attacking midfielder slash striker Lazzarini for central midfielder Palisi’s press-pass-and-move was a move that could be considered above defensive, yet it gave the Atlanta team a balanced approach and gave new freedom to Sardella to a play a more offensive game.
Lentini’s thirst for goal is relentless, yet he managed to throw away real opportunities (more of them) against superb goalie Vega who’s becoming more and more the backbone of Atlanta’s lower half along with Francés (missing in this game) and Sardella.
Chacarita’s dominance in the first twenty minutes, with 17 years unbeaten on their own turf on a derby, and local fans on their side, weren’t enough to keep the balance of a game not entirely dominated yet resolved by Atlanta’s wit to struggle to the score.
February 22nd, 2014. 17:00 hrs.
CHACARITA (1): Otarola; Acuña, Racca, Rocaniere and Paredes (subbed on 73m by Carella); Santiago Fernández (subbed on the 62m by Sebastián “Rulo” Romero), Nizzo, Coronel (subbed on the 62m by Guanca) and Morales; Rosso and Lentini.
Subs: Carniel, Lauman, Ezequiel Fernández, Mellado.
Manager: Carlos Leeb.
ATLANTA (2): Vega, Perujo, Díaz Villán, González y Pelaez; Galeano, Sardella, Guzmán (subbed on the 76m by Flores) y Lazzarini (subbed at half time for Palisi); Maraschi and Godoy (subbed on the 73m by Acuña).
Subs: Ferreyra, Noce, Canaletti and Matías Castro.
Manager: Sebastián Cassano – Leonardo Magarelli.
Goals: 55m Nizzo (A – own goal); 61m Sardella (A) and 90m for Lentini (CH).
Red — Rosso (CH) on the 75th minute.
Yellow – Racca (CH), Godoy and Diaz Villán (A).
Referee: Ignacio Lupani (7, good performance, excellent call on all cards, especially on Rosso’s dismissal for a childish kick. Didn’t get the rivalry get off his hands).
Linesmen: José Barrionuevo and Octavio Stewart
Field: Chacarita stadium (Villa Maipú, San Martín), in good condition.
Weather: Cloudy, 25 degrees celsius.
Gate: Circa 10.000 people.
Photo credit: Lucía Somoza – El Show de Atlanta.