Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
The 2007 San Lorenzo side was a Ferrari. So said Ramón Díaz – once of Oxford United fame - who coached that side. He oversaw the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Gastón Fernández and Cristían ‘The Wolf’ Ledesma as El Ciclón strolled to a 6-point championship win.
There was no such talk in Bajo Flores this preseason after Ramón returned for another crack at the whip at the Nuevo Gasómetro.
‘This San Lorenzo side is no Ferrari, it’s a Falcon.’
The Ford Falcon is an Argentine classic. Reliable, robust, tough and practical. There were nearly half a million of them made in Argentina before production stopped years ago, and there are still plenty of them driving around the country.
The car was also the preferred vehicle used by the military dictatorship for the systematic kidnapping and ‘disappearing’ of political dissidents in the 1970s, but that’s a different story altogether.
Ramón almost walked out on San Lorenzo during the preseason over the lack of transfer activity. With one or two new faces signing late on he decided to stay put, with the Falcon comment he was lowering the expectations of the expectant sanloré fans.
Seven matches into the league, true to his comparison, his side is robust, tough and practical.
At the weekend San Lorenzo were trailing by a goal to Olimpo, the recently promoted side who were playing in front of less-than-impressive-sight of under 100 travelling fans.
Recognising the three at the back wasn’t working out and the visitors were passing the ball around like Barcelona, Ramón replaced centre-back Meza with fullback Sebastián Luna, reverting to a flat back four.
Two minutes later, the side levelled.
They went on to score two second-half goals to win the three points, go top of the table, and, thanks to other sides’ results, stay there. Vélez failed to trouble Arsenal, Estudiantes lost to All Boys and River also lost away to Newell’s, while Tigre somehow beat Godoy Cruz.
But despite being top of the table, San Lorenzo are at times more like a 1980s Skoda than a classic Ford Falcon.
For the first 20 minutes San Lorenzo were shocking. The passing was atrocious. The fans, as one put it, ‘hate’ the left back. The centre forward Sebastian Balsas, a Uruguayan Peter Crouch, received a 3.5/10 rating for his performance. And while creative hub Leandro Romagnoli had his best game of the season, he is still far from his own best as he recovers from injury.
None of this matters for now, because much like the Falcon, San Lorenzo may not be flashy, but they are getting the job done.
Gimnasia have scored just three goals in their six fixtures so far, and all three came this weekend. They waited 482 minutes to find the net this season, then hit three great goals in 90 minutes to grab their first win of the campaign.
Martín Palermo hit a hat-trick against Colón, taking his total to 218 goals in Argentina and placing his as the 6th all-time top scorer in the league’s history.Daniel Garnero won just 3 points from 21 with Independiente, so unsurprisingly he is no longer the Rojo coach. Banfield thrashing his side 4-0 was the final straw.
And finally, the River Plate relegation watch - the millionaires are currently in the relegation playoff. As things stand they’ll fight for first division status over a home- and away-leg with one of the second division upstarts. They are still six points from safety.
Gimnasia 3-0 HuracánRacing 4-0 LanúsSan Lorenzo 3-1 OlimpoGodoy Cruz 1-2 TigreQuilmes 2-2 ArgentinosArsenal 0-0 VélezAll Boys 2-1 EstudiantesNewell’s 1-0 RiverBanfield 4-0 IndependienteBoca 3-1 Colón
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