With a known strategy, Atlanta struggled against itself and Almagro to score a win that (temporarily) places them back on top of the Primera B Metropolitana.
After the Nueva Chicago defeat, Atlanta was yet again matched against title competitors Almagro (the team that almost a year before placed Atlanta outside of the playoffs for the 2012-2013 promotion while the team was in contention to go back to the Nacional B category, on that occasion, Carlos Mayor’s team -still the manager of it- managed to play out all Rondina’s team weaknesses to later lose the promotion themselves on penalties against Brown de Adrogué), for the second match after the return of this primera B Metropolitana championship after Preseason. In this game, Atlanta managed to win by an own goal by Richard Schunke forced by a missed kick on the area by Federico Maraschi.
The first half started out for Atlanta the same way they had been playing before December came, back on the top, based on a 4-3-3 formation with some of the positive points we have before discussed here in BackFour, yet along with some changes as well. On defence, Atlanta still struggles by missing the commander itself, Emanuel Francés, who has managed this season to distribute and manage his own end of the pitch and his companions to walk a steady line. Most of all, by managing to get Díaz Villán, who was struggling to work the defence without repeatedly kicking the ball out of the pitch every time it reached his own area. Nelson González was in this case in charge of this responsability, and it is somehow hard for him as Vega is not yet getting his defenders to work as he needs. This game was also the return to the left side of Christian Peláez, who has managed this season to earn his spot as left wing-back over Gastón Pinto, who was the owner of the position after struggling for the position with Gustavo Mbombaj.
As for midfield and attack, the 4-3-3 structure worked similarly as it had done before for all occasions: a steady supply of pressing done by Federico Sardella, press-and-play from Juan Galeano, and passing play by Lucas Nanía. What is so particular about this? Many (yet notable elements) that are placed the same but do not work the same. Sardella’s game has been erratic so to say since the return of the tournament (his pressing game at least, has been less intense and there has been some doubt over his performances). Galeano’s game suffers the same level of inconvenience as ever: after his contractual controversy, Galeano has boiled down to his usual performance level… unconvincing, shadowed by a very bad afternoon with several passes lost and players lost while trying to recover the ball, and mildly settled by a rise in efforts over the second half that was yet useless to cover his overall performance before being subbed by Collavini. Nanía’s performance was an appealing notion in this type of formation to a tactic approach by Cassano that usually gives more space to deffensive (rather than offensive) players to keep a balance of gameplay and pressing in the midfield. Worth being noted, Nanía this season has mostly been used for second half gameplay (giving Collavini, Palisi or other players) space in the middle on first halfs, and then wearing rival teams on gameplay, speed and effort on the second half. This time, having Palisi injured, and along with poor previous performances by Acuña and Guzmán, Cassano has opted to give Nanía a chance from the beginning. Needless to say, Nania’s performance was too efforted for his previous gameplan, which ended up with him being yellow-carded. This card will keep him off the next game, the derby against Chacarita, as this was his fifth yellow card (which by AFA rules punishes him from playing for a game according to the rulebook). We will delve into this soon as we go into the details for the derby.
For the last third of the pitch, the three strikers have had a particular game play as well that was interesting before yet has clashed and struggled to find the right form. Why do we say this? Mainly because the three striker structure has worked for Atlanta as long as they play on-the-deck football. This is mainly helped by Lazzarini and Maraschi, both relatively short- heighted players (both measure about 1.70mts) yet very fast and pivoting attackers that usually start play as wingers on the left or right, or as delayed centreforwards for the middle, but never as target men as they usually do not lurk around the area like Godoy does, or like some forwards in recent Atlanta history did, like the Sorianos, Bielkiewicz, Henneberg and some others did. This type of play, added to usual one-two’s with Galeano, Guzmán or other players usually allows them to break through rival defenses quickly while picking up fouls for place kicks near the area, or penalties in all cases where they do not manage to score by kicking.
Godoy’s role yet is still confusing to us. Why? He is a decent target man that has pretty much fought to score yet he has run dry on the last fixtures, not managing to score in -at least- the last five games he played. He’s pretty useful for dragging defenses along while keeping the pressure off Maraschi or Lazzarini. And he is picking up balls off and on the area. But this type of gameplay has roughed his game up to the point where except for place kicks or corners he doesn’t get clean passes to score and finds himself always clashing with defenses not to gain his real place. It’s true that on the second half he managed to get a pretty interesting ball on Centeno’s goal that ended up being saved by the Almagro goalkeeper (a ‘spooned’ kick from outside the area that found Bruno Centeno mispositioned and punching the ball desperately while he was pushing his defenders forwards to try and earn a draw), yet the struggle is yet too much for any target man.
There are some comments that can be added to this commentary about the game: to be more obvious, that Almagro’s team was not clearly overrun by Atlanta, yet that it played a deflated game on the first half like many teams have done in the category (like Nueva Chicago’s performance on the previous game). Yet, the loss of concentration by Atlanta’s deffensive half ended up with Almagro pushing forward with its wing backs on the sides on the bottom of the second half (and Vega’s yelling wake up calls to his defense) and some offensive play by Castro, Godoy and Lazzarini on the bottom after a 30-minute nap on the middle of the game where Atlanta fell flat and Almagro pushed for its chances, led by ex-Atlanta player and Almagro icon Lucas Sparapani.
Our particular sentiment about this? This was not Atlanta’s inspired game. Nevertheless, ugly as it may be, it is the necessary kind of score to rail up before the derby next week, and the kind of game and play needed to wake the team up.
It will be interesting to see how the team reacts to a three-game week, with the (undefined) Copa Argentina delayed schedule against a Los Andes team that has lost Felipe De la Riva as their manager (and has now acquired a known character, ex- Atlanta Manager Fabián Nardozza).
Losing Nanía and Collavini will be a tough blow as it will force the gameplay to switch to a more speed driven attack with Guzmán, or a battle-ful game with Acuña with few other choices except if Cassano should push for new arrival Gabriel Flores to debut on the Derby.
Will Francés be back on time to play the derby and help a very deflated defense?
February 15th (Saturday) — 6:30pm.
ATLANTA (1): Vega; Perujo, Díaz Villán, González y Pelaez; Galeano (subbed on 81 by Collavini), Sardella and Nanía; Maraschi (subbed on 72 by Guzmán), Godoy and Lazzarini (subbed on 75 by Castro). Subs: Ferreyra, Pinto, Flores and Acuña. Manager: Sebastián Cassano – Leonardo Magarelli.
ALMAGRO (0): Centeno; Ruquet (subbed on 62 by Coria), Schunke, Sansotre, Charles; Lillo, Arce and Ramírez (subbed on 62 by Pacheco); Sparapani; Castano (subbed on 75 by Ferreyra) and Bonfigli. Subs: Espíndola, Arrechea, Campos and Quiros. Manager: Carlos Mayor.
Goals: 58m Schunke (Almagro, own goal)
Cards: Nanía, Galeano, Collavini and Lazzarini (AT), Charles, Schunke and Ramirez (AL)
Referee: Carlos Stoklas. (5, regular performance, but let the players hit each other too much on the second half).
Linesmen: Ernesto Brusca and Gastón Rallo.
Field: Leon Kolbowski (Atlanta, Villa Crespo), in good condition.
Weather: Around 25 degrees celsius, cloudy. Ended with floodlights on.
Gate: Around 3.500 people.
Cover photo: cover of the Olé newspaper, by HEVA Imágenes.
Atlanta 1 – Nueva Chicago 2: How to lose at your own game. Next Post:
Being an enemy and a friend: Salvador Pasini