Sunday, February 21, 2010

Good Samaritan Futbol

In a very winnable game Newell's Old Boys seemed to decide in the favor of charity, sharing the points in a 1-1 draw with a struggling Lanús.

There is no other way I can explain the result. Lanús haven't won a match sense their Clausura opener. They started the match with a 5-3-2 formation, hardly a team looking for anything more than a tie. The first half was all Newell's, but, for all the good chances they had, they couldn't seem to put anything on target, let alone into the back of the net. A prime example was a beautifully play by Mauro Fórmica which Barrientos sent into orbit. My impression of Newell's is that they were pressing, trying to live up to the form they showed during the Apertura. Thing is, during the Apertura, while they were playing well, they were playing relaxed, having fun... and when they didn't, it was because, like in this game, they were pressing, trying too hard.

When Jorge Achucarro scored off a corner to give Newell's the lead I thought they would settle down, and that Lanús were done for. When their captain Agustín Pelletieri was red carded in the 68th minute I was sure that Newell's would score another goal or two against a ten man Lanús.

Instead, two defenders, whom I won't identify, who were marking former Newell's player Santiago Salcedo run onto a pass from midfield unhindered. When Salcedo only has a goalkeeper to beat you can bet that he'll score every time and have no fear of losing. Peratta never had a chance, a victim of a pair of his own defenders, whom I must assume thought that surely the Paraguayan was off sides, or that their teammate would handle him... or that they simply felt sorry for Lanús and their current struggles.

Coach Sensini himself has come out and said this was a wasted opportunity. I have a feeling he may have had harsher words for the team, and I'm sure Peratta had a bit of a talk with his defenders. While the Apertura results silenced the fans who had been calling for Sensini to be removed as coach, with this result I've seen the return of such talk. Early in this match I saw the return of a lot of the problems that were evident during the early stages of the Apertura, too many long balls, not enough team play, the passing was awful, and horrible finishing.

Barrientos is the player that I have to single out, this may well have been the worst game I've ever seen him play. Just about every tackle he went for resulted in a foul, his blown opportunity for a goal has yet to find the ground. He's only playing because Diego Mateo is injuried, and has around twenty days to go before he will be able to rejoin the line up.

How can any Lepra be happy after this result? From the board room, to the coaching staff, the players, and on down to the youngest fan in attendance, it was very obvious that this was a winnable match, even while playing poorly this was a match that was ripe for the taking. Why the team came into the match playing long balls I'll never understand, that has only worked well with this group of players when they have mixed it up with a quality passing game. Sensini is the coach, he's supposed to come up with the strategies and tactics the players take to the field. He's supposed to guide them, and when they aren't playing well, when they are pressing, he needs to be able to deal with those issues.

He has yet shown that he is up to that task.

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