Vélez returns to the sources to rediscover glory

Although it seems distant, from the local defeat against Central Córdoba that ended with the fans crying out in anger against the leadership for the lack of hierarchical reinforcements, the presence of an interim coach and certain institutional mishandling, only four months passed.

At that time things changed a lot in Vélez, at least at the international level. “The toilet goes in the bathroom and the refrigerator in the kitchen,” César Menotti said some time ago to illustrate the importance of order in football. And that, precisely, is what the cast of the blue V seems to have found when recovering one of its main historical identifying features: trust in their inferiors.

“La Fábrica”, as its hotbed is known, is responsible for providing the starting team with five of its 11 initial players: Valentín Gómez, Francisco Ortega, Nicolás Garayalde, Máximo Perrone and Luca Orellano.

As he successfully patented in his previous management as manager between 2008 and 2015 -with the arrivals of Sebastián Domínguez, Maximiliano Moralez or Federico Insúa- Christian Bassedas always knew that he had to add hierarchy reinforcements to the young blood make a leap in quality. Perhaps that is why his first big success since his return to the club last year was the repatriation of Lucas Pratto.

In addition to a player loved by the fans, the striker brought the experience of having consecrated himself in the Libertadores with the River shirt (and even having scored in the decisive series against Boca).

He also managed to seal the continuity of Santiago Cáseres, sign the renewal of Lautaro Giannetti, and later bet by a coach with more experience like Alexander Medina instead of Julio Vaccari (who returned to the Reserve at the end of May). He even managed to convince Diego Godín, captain of the Uruguay National Team, that this team was the best option for him to prepare for the upcoming World Cup.

Others responsible for this present are the coaches who preceded the “Cacique”. Mauricio Pellegrino achieved international participation, placing the team in second place in the general table behind River, at the end of 2021, and Vaccari himself, who succeeded him in office. The former assistant to Bielsa and Heinze, although he showed some shortcomings on the bench, was also key in favoring the insertion of juveniles whom he knew from having previously directed them in the Reserve.

With their support and the training they brought, they joined the First Division with poise, wisdom, character and good technique. It is enough to remember some plays and moments that the youngest of the squad starred in, to better understand how Vélez got to where he is.

When the game faded away in Montevideo and the team said goodbye to the Cup in the group stage with a bitter draw against Nacional, Valentín Gómez (19 years old) avoided defeat in the 91st minute with a providential close on the line. Two minutes later, Perrone made it 3-2 with a header that restored the soul of the team and the mathematical chances of staying in the race in the competition.

The superlative level of Garayalde (23) against River and the goals from Julián Fernández before Talleres, in Liniers and Córdoba, with definitions that do not seem typical of an 18-year-old complete this story. The power of Abiel Osorio, a 20-year-old center forward, could be added, although he still needs to adjust the finishing to further capitalize on what he generates.

That freshness and desire to stay in the team had the support of the greatest. Because Pratto himself, when he failed to get the definition right, was one more in the recovery and in the generation. Because Lucas Janson continued to contribute goals and assists, because Leonardo Jara was once again a reliable right-back, because Walter Bou quickly got into the eleven, and because Lucas Hoyos and Matías de los Santos were confident and did not fail in decisive moments, as if it had happened to them previously in the domestic competition.

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This well-achieved cocktail, added to Medina’s offensive ambition to maintain his 4-2-3-1 beyond the rival on duty, made it possible for the team to access the batch of the best four of the Libertadores for the third time in its history. The first time he achieved it in 1994 when he beat Junior from Barranquilla and then San Pablo, in the Morumbí, to make the continental Olympic lap for the only time, and then endorse it against Milan by obtaining the Intercontinental.

In 2011 they were once again one step away from the final, but this time luck eluded the team led by Ricardo Gareca. Santiago Silva slipped at the time of kicking the decisive penalty against Peñarol, and the 2-1 victory for the hosts was not enough after the 1-0 loss they had suffered in Uruguay.

Now Flamengo is coming, who have just eliminated Corinthians and who have just added the star reinforcements of the Chileans to their roster of stars Arturo Vidal and Erick Pulgar, from the attacker Everton Cebolinha (incorporated for 14 million euros from Benfica), and the recent arrival of Oscar (from steps through Chelsea, Chinese football and the Brazilian team).

The mission seems impossible, but no one takes away the illusion of a team hungry for glory, which reached this stage coming from very low and now wants to cling to this dream. The dangerous rival on duty reminds us that in 1995 both teams got involved in a pitched battle, after Zandoná punched Edmundo in the Super Cup. Closer in time, they also met last year for the Libertadores: it was a goalless draw at Amalfitani and a 3-2 defeat of Vélez in Brazil.

A special mention deserves the support of its people in this campaign. So many times harassed with memes and jokes referring to their call, the Velez bias has been saying present with massive accompaniment before Students, River and Workshops.

However, due to the acts of violence that occurred in the duel against the Cordobans in the upper South stalls, the CABA Football Safety Committee decided that the team “play behind closed doors until they adapt to different issues that make the security of the meetings”. It remains to be defined if it will be only for the duel against Gimnasia or if the sanction will be extended.

Fortunately, there are just over two weeks left for the definition, because on Wednesday August 31 at 9:30 p.m. will receive Flamengo, and the return will take place on September 7 at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

The deadline will be key to devising the series well, put Godín in good physical shape and try to change the face in the local contest, which it has been using as a test bench without much success because it occupies the last positions.

It is clear from this story that making the most of your time, as you did recently, can be key to rediscover the glory that he knew how to achieve.

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