This saturday the result at Villa Crespo was of 2-1 for Nueva Chicago in a game with some particular details and a not so astonishing result.
First off the match looked auspiciously interesting for Atlanta, for various reasons: first competitive match after the preseason, particularly after the cancellation of the Copa Argentina game due to security issues warned by Aprevide, for a change, and then followed by scheduling conflicts added to the availability of stadia for Los Andes to play local in the argentinian version of the FA Cup. Needless to say, the match has been almost permanently cancelled. After a two month hiatus following the festivities this was the opportunity for both teams to stretch their legs and show the results of the preseason workouts.
Nueva Chicago is in a particular situation due to some particular episodes that have happened in the last few years: from a powerful (yet not title-challenging) team in the Primera División, they have descended two levels down, mainly due to some institutional decay on many levels: problems with barra bravas, the resignation of a president, an economical disfavourable economical situation (such as the one haunting all the clubs in the Ascenso and Primera División in Argentina, except for some remarkable yet few examples). This, added to meager results, and a considerable drop in talents emerging from the Youth academy has resulted in a situation where the once powerful team from Mataderos sits mid- table, yet now has a real chance to be a suitor for the title challenge. The team nowadays sits between some known players (mostly Christian “Gomito” Gómez, the never ending talent that led Nueva Chicago to their promotion to the first division back in the early years of the 21st century), and some unknown, youthful players who have yet some talent to display, but haven’t made a hefty demonstration. Plus, a relatively unknown manager, Pablo Guede, who has silently built from the bottom up, coming from the Youth Academy to work on the first team after the resignation of Mario Finarolli, a well known manager to the ‘Chicago fans.
On the other hand Atlanta have sat comfortably top-of-the-table since early december, fueled by some very interesting and promising performances from the team formed by Sebastian Méndez (now Platense’s manager, after resigning due to differences with the board on late 2013), and later led by Atlanta’s own Reserves and now First Division Manager Sebastián Cassano along with Leonardo Magarelli, who have shown very interesting progress playing field football, finding very interesting variables on many places: speaking from the defense up, Atlanta have found a new captain in Emanuel Francés, a sub on the previous season, yet a player that has had, at 30 years old, stints with many teams in the category including category rivals Defensores de Belgrano. His performances have been acompassed by Sebastián Diaz Villán’s, who has evolved as a player, particularly in all subjects referred to his capability to recover the ball and to resolve situations under pressure without resorting to high kicks to nowhere.
The midfield has as well evolved for this season, seeing some high flight performances from Federico Sardella (“Fefi”), who has shown the category as central midfielder that was once promising in the youth teams of Banfield, where he was met by Sebastian Mendez. Sardella not only has become one of the backbone lines of the team with ball recovery and short-direct- and first chance passing, but with some defining goals as well not typical from a player going to the position of defensive midfielder. Yet the performances of his sector companion, Juan Galeano, have not been as succesful: having struggled for a new contract, Galeano remains a promise, and hasn’t been able to fully demonstrate the capability that has led to understand what category rivals Platense have seen in him (particularly by Sebastián Mendez) to have asked him to join them during the off-season break, leading to a quick yet solved rift between Atlanta’s and Platense’s chairmen, Alejandro Korz and Pedro Vilariño. Some very interesting variables have been found as well from Lucas Nanía (a very refreshing option coming from the bench to play second halfs that has led to some crucial performances and goals such as his brilliant off-the-area kick against Deportivo Morón leading to a one-nil victory against Morón. Yet the rest of the midfield shows promised but hasn’t truly materialised, leading to some on-and-off performances by players such as Palisi, Collavini or Guzmán.
And last but not least the strikers, in which Atlanta may not have quantity, but has found quality and variance. First and foremost, probably the recovery or signing of the season: Federico Maraschi. Like Francés, almost 30 years old, Federico has had stints with teams such as Almirante Brown (Nacional B), or Barrancas Central or Defensores de Belgrano in the same category as los bohemios. Nevertheless, a player that usually avoids the spotlight, has managed to grab very impressive perfomances this season, due to a resilient character, great physical form, and a collaboration between midfielders and strikers that has allowed him to ‘play the ball on the deck’ as most players in those sectors do not have significant height. The strategy has paid off eitherway, as between Nanía, Maraschi, Guzmán, Lazzarini amongst others, passing – fast and down to earth football has been played in Villa Crespo in a fashion probably not seen after 2011’s ascenso season or even before. Lazzarini, as well, has been an interesting choice of footballer as well, playing some head-on attacking based on individual runs, sometimes grouped with one-two passes or fast runs on some of the slower and bigger defenses of the category teams.
After all of this information, it needs to be noted that on the first half, particularly the first twenty minutes Atlanta led the game by a lost ball on the small area bounced to Maraschi, quick enough to surprise Nicolás Tauber, former Chacarita goalkeeper for several years, that led a quiet afternoon after the first goal. What happened to Atlanta’s game in particular after the first goal? A succession of misconceptions and a loss of attention towards the passing and towards the marking of Nueva Chicago’s players, that started to gain confidence by finding open ways towards Vega’s goal through the middle but especially through the sides were the wing backs were not being particularly covered. Who’s to blame in this? No one in particular, but Atlanta has felt deeply the loss of Francés, club captain, who has suffered a muscular tear that will keep him off the fields up until the Derby with Chacarita in almost fifteen days’ time, for the best scenario. His replacement, Nelson Gonzalez, has not seen kick off action regularly in his year and a half in the Club. A weakness particularly exploited by Gomito Gomez, Nueva Chicago’s historical striker, which got him on the scoresheet for the first goal for Chicago (thirty-one minutes in the first half) which saw him as well participating in many plays in the second half as well with a goal scored by Baldunciel to seal off the result for the game.
Also tagged by this was Atlanta’s inability to recover lost balls in the midfield, followed by a very poor performance from Juan Galeano, immediately after some controversy regarding the renewal of his contract up until 2015, followed though by pretty much offensive based substitutions by Cassano (Nanía, Lazzarini and Guzmán coming for Collavini, Acuña and Perujo, being the last one the most surprising one, switching a wing back for a striker). Nevertheless, a more offensive-based outlook yet wasn’t enough for Atlanta to turn its fortunes against Nueva Chicago, now third in the position table in the struggle for the top.
Atlanta will play Campana’s own Villa Dalmine, tomorrow, whereas at the same time Chicago will be playing Deportivo Armenio at the same time.
It’s pretty much a start-over in the season for Atlanta. Nevertheless, Moron’s defeat against Los Andes has cut the Villa Crespo team some slack.
It will be interesting to see how Mendez’s and Cassano’s on-deck and attacking goes against the balanced-and-sealed deffensive football played by ex-manager Rondina’s Villa Dálmine, playing Lucas Ferreiro, Gustavo Mbombaj and Raul Dudy Perez (ex- Atlanta players) on the field as a good chance to bounce back. Last game played, between both, Rondina was Platense’s manager, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw between both with a late goal scored by Sardella. An interesting matchup, if we consider the 4-3-1-2 or 4-3-3 played football by Atlanta, and Rondina’s usual 4-3-2-1 formation. Will he go even more deffensive?
Will the team keep missing some of it’s key players such as Francés or Lazzarini? Will they be in condition to play the Derby?
Attack-based question: Does Godoy merit the second striker position beside Maraschi, or does Lazzarini? What are your thoughts on it?
ATLANTA (1): Vega, Perujo (Subbed on min 88 by Lazzarini), Díaz Villán, González, Peláez; Collavini (subbed on 76 by Guzmán), Sardella, Galeano y Acuña (subbed on 65 by Nanía); Maraschi and Godoy. Subs: Ferreyra, Pinto, Bozzoni y Castro. Manager:Sebastián Cassano – Leonardo Magarelli.
NVA CHICAGO (2): Tauber; Scifo, Lanaro, Escudero y Caballero; Bochi, Farías, Barbona and Gómez (subbed on the 87m by Coronel); Melo (subbed on the 65m by Baldunciel) and Acosta (subbed on the 76m by Montenegro). Subs: Monllor, Corre, Fernández Francou and Ermini. Manager: Pablo Guede.
Goals: 8m Maraschi (A); 31m Gómez (NC) y 84m Baldunciel (NC).
Cards (all yellow): Collavini and Sardella (A); Lanaro, Escudero, Caballero, Farias and Barbona (NC).
Referee: Pablo Giménez.
Linesmen: Nicolás Bravo and Federico Pomi.
Field: Leon Kolbowski (Atlanta, Villa Crespo), in regular state after heavy rains.
Weather: Around 25-30 degrees celsius, storms immediately before the game. Lightning during the game.
Gate: Around 2.500 people.
Next game: Tuesday 2/11, vs. Villa Dálmine (A). 17hs.
Atlanta 1 – Almagro 0: A small step to the right place