Penalties left Vélez out of the Superliga Cup, but @VelezinEnglish takes some time to highlights a fine collective effort by the team.
This is it. Football is cruel sometimes. Very cruel. And it has been specially cruel with this group of players and staff. These guys have been treated with disdain before the first game, between the two games and after what that sorry former Vélez player said, this trend will keep going, because before the game they were told that one player kept them afloat a year ago (Which is awfully wide of the mark), and after the first game Twitter rage and media morality shaped the news cycle around that one player and the anthem, but there was little talk about football. A win may have not changed the narrative, but this group deserved to feel that sense of vindication.
It has been written here in no uncertain terms that this team looked unable to handle knockout football or high-stakes situation. If Vélez looked to have a fair shot in a draw where the refereeing seemed to be in a mission (That Espinoza cunt is useless even for that as he almost fails in that for the second time in a row), it's because the players rose to the occasion. After some bad teams and years and teams that looked defeated when setting foot in La Bombonera, this time Vélez looked like if actually was there to win and knew how to do it. The passing wasn't as slick as #Heinzeball might demand, but the intensity to play was there most of the two games, the pressing relentless and no Vélez player that wilted when going for a 50/50 ball. Profligacy was an issue, but Andrada was the best man on the pitch throughout the 180 minutes by far. Heinze deserves credit for creating an environment where this can happen despite an unfair result.
If players couldn't get vindication in the scoreline, some of them at least deserve a mention (Disclaimer: I love the other unmentioned guys too). In the second second leg Hoyos earned the clean sheet and showed that he can be more than an above-average substitute goalkeeper; Laso is a rugged utility player (with some limitations), but showed that "utility player" can be used in a good sense and deserves praise for his performance throughout the tie; Abram and Giannetti are a great centre back pairing; Giménez was harassed by Boca midfielders in both games, but still found ways to assert himself and make Vélez play better; Bouzat left when he had nothing left to give and Barreal looks like he should get more serious consideration. And there's Thiago Almada of course. His 2019 wasn't great but these Superliga Cup games gave him a platform to breakout and when he was thrown onto the pitch in the second half of the second leg, in a moment where an 18 year old should wilt he took over the game. My thoughts and support are with Cufré, who had the misfortune to miss a penalty. It's an unfitting end a season he ended up as a key player after starting as a substitute to a winger-cum-left back after being the substitute to a centre back-cum-left back.
It was difficult to write in positive terms about a defeat that was so deflating, specially when I could have written about mercenaries Abal and Espinoza or the Zaratraitor. It was more out of duty than desire, but I felt that being fair to the players was the right thing to do rather deflecting blame. It's not the time to do a balance. This is not the end of the road neither, as there is a path outlined to follow with many of these players. Vélez is at crossroads now. Hopefully the club will follow this path lead by the man who started mapping it.