After a painful defeat, @VelezinEnglish looks at everything that went wayward in San Juan.
Vélez came into an important three game stretch on the heels of a good, solid win against Aldosivi. Injuries left Heinze with some tough choices to make: Salinas injury meant that if he wanted to use the current tactical system, he would have to rely on a third stringer like Amarilla (Bazán could have been a choice too) or making some tactical tweaks in order to compensate the lack of a striker. With Robertone deemed fit, in the end Heinze opted to bring Mainero in, who played very little this season, to try a system used with very little success for more or less 45 minutes against Racing. So Vélez started Bouzat on the left, Mainero on the right and Vargas in the centre.
I twitted before the game that it wasn't my preferred choice, and unfortunately I was right, the system didn't work again. Although I acknowledge that Amarilla has not shown he can hold a place in the first team, I still believe that was a better option than changing the tactical setup and shuffling the positions of usual starters like Vargas and Bouzat. San Martín centre backs had an easy day on the office: with no striker to move them around there wasn't no vacant space to occupate in the penalty area for the oncoming midfielders and wingers (Bouzat and Mainero didn't cut inside anyway) so the only thing they had to do was blocking passing lanes for through balls. Vargas was playing in a more central position, but he was overlapping Robertone in an area of the pitch that was going to be crowded anyway, so Vélez had no fluidity in the final third and ended up crossing the ball to nobody. Off the ball, as the game went on, the team looked without compactness, with a big space between the six at back and the four upfront. At halftime Heinze had to replace Giménez (Heat stroke) and brought on Galdames, who wasn't bad, but didn't change how the team worked. When the coach decided to bring Amarilla and Almada and switched to a more familiar setup, San Martín was really comfortable with the dynamics of the match and Vélez was out of sync, off rhythm and psychologically off the game.
Heinze got things wrong on San Juan, but players should be held accountable for the defeat too. Some of them underperformed, others mixed good and bad moments, with maybe Nico Domínguez being the only exception, played reasonably well again and also scored Vélez only goal with a precise header (Give the lad a new contract ASAP, please). Also, individual mistakes were costly. In the first goal there seemed to be a communication breakdown about marking assignments, but First Division teams should be able to deal with that kind of frontal free kicks. The second goal came from a corner conceded by a great stop by Alexander Domínguez, who misjudged the flight of the ball badly on the ensuing corner kick allowing Gelabert an easy finish, which is not what you would expect from a talented, experienced international goalkeeper. I love the commitment of El Monito Vargas, but he got a red card after a crunching tackle born out of frustration, meaning he will get a ban and surely miss two or more games due to ahot headed action. The third goal came inmediately after a long ball and shambolic defending.
Two weeks ago I stated that Vélez was too generous with the oppsition and three weeks ago I spoke about the crappiness of Forestello's teams without even thinking about the possibility that those words could come back to bite me so soon. Both things remain true: The San Juan side won because they took the advantages Vélez gave them, not because they were the better team. I usually make a point on how rudimentary are some teams' ideas, but Vélez players failed to execute Heinze's sophisticated albeit flawed plan because it didn't suit them. This is a reminder that sometimes football is a simple game and if you are likely to be dragged to the mud, at least you have to get the basics right. In that context, there's always a chance that changing the scheme could actually backfire. This was a bad afternoon overall and there's little to praise from this game but I'm not going to lose my mind over a result: Heinze is the right man to take this team forward and this is a young team so growing pains can be expected. But in order to reach consistency on the pitch, there should be consistency coming from the sidelines too.