Sebastián Battaglia had to make a drastic decision. Aware of an alleged act of indiscipline, he separated from the squad (at least, he preferred that they not travel to La Rioja) Darío Benedetto and Marcos Rojoin the prelude to this Wednesday’s match against Ferro, for the 16th final of the Argentine Cup.
In what seems like a new scandal surrounding the Ribera entity, the defender and the striker would have been at the birthday of Iván Marcone, Pipa’s partner in Elche, passing through Buenos Aires. Something happened that exceeded the limit of the young coach, beyond that the two experienced players were not going to be part of the match that Boca beat Arsenal 2-1, in the Bombonera. But they had been preserved to be against Ferro for the Argentine Cup, in the most important match of the week, according to the coach’s own evaluation.
As LA NACIÓN was able to find out, Battaglia’s decision was due to the fact that both players did not attend training this Sunday morning, hours before the match against Arsenal, as planned with the players who were not going to be part of that match. At night, he saw them relaxed, drinking mates, and taking photos in the Bombonera.
He made sure that they were going to be reserved for the Copa Argentina match, a contest that Boca won in a previous edition. Battaglia already had to make strong decisions, by separating Agustín Almendra when he disrespected him in front of the group (and Benedetto, with exaggerated energy, sided with the coach) and later, ran from the scene to Jorman Campuzano, for being late for training. In fact, Rolón took his place.
“Jorman had a problem where he was late for the first training session and was absent. I repeatedly said that we had rules to follow and I was quite clear on some issues. That is why he did not have the opportunity to be focused and play, ”the DT warned, hours ago. Campuzano is once again focused for this trip.
It was not the first time that Marcos Rojo was sanctioned by Battaglia. He did not play against Rosario Central, in the 2-1 victory at the Vélez stadium (Zambrano replaced him), in February of this year, for having played a dive with friends in the mud. He was also a slap on the wrist for Almendra and Ávila, who went down to the reserve that same weekend.
Aside from the aforementioned decisions, acted with diplomacy in the serious case of Sebastián Villa, accused of gender violence, and even sought to preserve young people, such as Vázquez and Varela, who also, at the time, had to be punished for some excesses. In the list of concentrates, in which Benedetto and Rojo do not appear, neither is the young man Gaston Avilawhich will go on loan to Rosario Central.
Battaglia had said on Sunday night, at the press conference after the victory at the start of the championship against Arsenal for the Professional League: “We asked not to play today, since we came from playing less than 15 days ago, and we only had 5 days of vacation. And not only did we play today, but on top of that they put us on for this Wednesday”. For this reason, the coaching staff decided to use an alternative team against Arsenal, and to have a team with the usual starters on Wednesday, since it is a direct elimination match.
Months before, Benedetto had supported Battaglia in the conflict with Almendra. “In the long run it was going to happen, It’s something that couldn’t stand it anymore. The template thinks the same as the coaching staff. We support the coach’s decision to the death and the Football Council. There are things that exceed the limit. Here is a very good group. This had to be rooted out was uprooted”, he counted. This situation strengthens Battaglia’s decision, since he did it with the referent who had most publicly defended him when the incident with Almendra happened.
In the Almendra case, much more serious than that of Varela, because there was a lack of respect in front of everyone in the middle of the training, the DT made a drastic disciplinary decision. It was not the first time they crossed paths: months ago, they had had a short circuit due to the midfielder’s position on the court, who wanted to play on the left and not on the right.
“Here the decision that they go directly to Reserve was mine, we will see how it goes. We have an idea for our team and group. Anyone who wants to join is welcome. And whoever doesn’t, already knows what can happen”, assured the driver, just before embarking on a trip to Córdoba, where the xeneize team faced Central Córdoba from Rosario, for the 32nd final of the Argentine Cup.
For some, his posture awoke the memory of Carlos Bianchi, his reference in the position. The Viceroy had been eloquent in reference to acts of indiscipline on campus and referred to second chances: “Sometimes you have to make disciplinary decisions because someone is wrong. I always say that I lead the group forward, we go walking. If someone falls on the shoulder, I’m the one who goes to the shoulder to look for him and bring him to continue with the group. But if he falls to the shoulder again, he didn’t understand that he didn’t have a second time. And he will stay on the shoulder and the group continues. The most important thing is the group.”
In the soccer practice held this Monday at the Ezeiza property, Battaglia put eight soccer players out of these eleven (besides Red and Bendetto) before reservation. Boca’s coach included Pedro Velurtas for Figal, Gabriel Aranda for Izquierdoz and Nicolás Orsini for Villa, since all three played yesterday in the 2-1 victory against Arsenal at La Bombonera.
The team that will play in La Rioja will also not include Luis Advíncula, torn and summoned by the Peruvian team; nor Oscar Romero, summoned by the Paraguay team. Nor will Carlos Zambrano, who is part of the Inca team led by Ricardo Gareca, be on the squad.
The xeneize team would then form against those from Caballito with Agustin Rossi; Marcelo Weingandt, Nicolas Figal, Carlos Izquierdoz and Frank Fabra; Guillermo “Pol” Fernández, Alan Varela and Juan Ramírez; Eduardo Salvio, Luis Vazquez and Sebastian Villa.
Battaglia debuted as manager of Boca on August 23, 2021, after the dismissal of Miguel Angel Russo. It was in the victory against Patronato by 1-0. But in less than a year he had to overcome many internal obstacles. Although there were ups and downs in the relationship, the Football Council led by Juan Román Riquelme, supported Battaglia in the last decisions, despite the conflicting thoughts, for example, with the Almendra case. We will have to see what scope the situations of Benedetto and Rojo have now.
It is worth remembering that the coach he had earned the respect of the squad on the basis of strong decisionseven in the worst of times. One of them was firmness, precisely, in the Almendra case. And another, when he seemed on the ropes, the thick voice on his continuity. “I am always strong. I trust the squad, the players. Let’s get ready for the next game.” he took out his chest in the Ezeiza estate, minutes before the key meeting with Juan Román Riquelme and his side. From then on, the football situation improved markedly from the results.
“If they bank it, show it on the field”, Riquelme told them by way of motivation and reaction, according to what LA NACION learned. What did that bank deliver? Confidence. Of the DT with the soccer players; of the group with the idea; from player to player. “When you have more of that, trust your teammate and believe in what we do, we get stronger,” the coach assumed proudly when he eliminated Defense and Justice from the tournament (2-0).
Although the most faithful guarantee that the squad found may have been the football checks based on Battaglia’s decisions. The DT modified his scheme and moved pieces that ended up facilitating a clearer identity: he played better and the leading role was not just an intention. His favorite tactical drawings were 4-3-1-2 and 4-3-3, but he began to mutate the latter to diagram a 4-1-4-1 in which the wingers were placed on the line of the flyers internal: it occupied the width of the field better, having people inside and outside both to attack and defend.
To improve all this, he corrected the midfield: “Pol” Fernández stopped being No. 5 because “little by little we were losing contention”, causing him to return to the inner right zone, and that vacancy was filled by Alan Varela “because it is more orderly and positional. Some of the storms that Battaglia had to overcome in his short time as manager of Boca.