The story behind Sebastián Battaglia’s sanction of Marcos Rojo and Darío Benedetto and the true objective of those punishments

Behind the supposed “scandal” that Sebastián Battaglia’s decision not to summon Marcos Rojo and Darío Benedetto for the match that Boca and Ferro will play this Wednesday, for the Argentine Cup, could have generated, a background appears that goes beyond the immediate and that focuses on acts, forms and human and professional respect.

Something important: both the defender and the forward knew from Sunday at noon that neither of them would be part of the delegation traveling to La Rioja this afternoon.

The absence of both in the training scheduled the morning before the match against Arsenal (as planned with the players who were not going to be part of that match) caused this swerve by the DT, who had initially preserved them precisely so that they play this Wednesday before those of Caballito.

As LA NACION was able to find out, El Pipa was part of the birthday celebrations held on Saturday by Iván Marcone, with whom he was a partner in Elche and on vacation in Buenos Aires. For his part, Rojo was seen in a Buenos Aires bowling alley that same night.

Rojo and Benedetto, two undisputed starters in Boca, were sanctioned by Battaglia for indisciplineTwitter @la12tuittera

But the disaffection of both does not happen because of what they decided to do in their free time, but because of their faults as professionals. In this case, missing a previously scheduled practice.

The good acceptance of both before the inflexible decision of the coach was tangible: both the defender and the scorer were smiling at the Bombonera, watching the xeneize victory over those from Sarandí as two more fans. Although of course, at that time only the three of them knew the news that was made public last night, when the club made the squad list official.

I repeatedly said that we had rules to abide by and I was quite clear on some issues”, said Battaglia after the victory against Arsenal in the Bombonera. He was specifically referring to Jorman Campuzano, who had arrived late for the first training session and therefore was not part of the first League match. But, by then, he had already told Rojo and Benedetto that they would not be in the game against Ferro. For them it was also the phrase. And for all his directed.

Since the beginning of the year, Battaglia began to set unalterable guidelines in the day-to-day life of the Boca squad
Since the beginning of the year, Battaglia began to set unalterable guidelines in the day-to-day life of the Boca squadMouth Press

The position of the coach is not negotiated. He believes that commitment to teammates, the coaching staff and the club is fundamental to building a strong and united group.. And when it comes to sanctioning, no last name weighs more than another.

The hinge of everything happened with the change of year. Once the club confirmed him in his position and he was no longer interim, Sebastián Battaglia began to make strong decisions. With a very recognizable DNA and that he marked the ex-volante on fire in its beginnings: that of Carlos Bianchi.

In mid-February it transpired a video in which Rojo himself, Almendra and Gastón Ávila played a picado with friends on a muddy fieldbarefoot and without any protection for their legs.

A few days after the viralization of these images, the DT lowered the two juveniles to the Reserve and got angry. Especially with the midfielder, who was in full recovery from the sprained ankle he had suffered just a few weeks earlier in a friendly with Colo-Colo. At the same time, he sidelined the experienced defender from the match against Rosario Central. Under a disguised “rotation”, the headline in Liniers was the Peruvian Carlos Zambrano.

Just a few days later, everything was blown up. On February 28, Agustín Almendra disrespected Battaglia during the last practice before traveling to Córdoba to face Central Córdoba from Rosario, for the Copa Argentina.

For Battaglia, Almond was a key part of the team;  his lack of respect towards the DT marginalized him from the professional team
For Battaglia, Almond was a key part of the team; his lack of respect towards the DT marginalized him from the professional team

After several bad manners exhibited by the midfielder on the field of play, where he also exchanged words with teammates (and even went with too much impetus to divided balls in which he could have seriously injured Darío Benedetto), the DT closed the discussion : “If you don’t like it, you leave”.

Almendra’s words to Battaglia were very harsh: “You may have won a lot as a footballer, but as a manager you don’t exist. They put together your team from up there”, he told him, pointing to the offices of the Football Council in Ezeiza, and added a strong insult. Immediately afterwards, the 22-year-old player headed towards the locker room.

you went to hell”, Pipa told him. “Download a change, Agustín,” Diego Pulpo González managed to tell him at the door. “Shut the fuck up ’cause I’m boxing you too”, The midfielder answered them out of his mind, according to the program Conectados al Mediodía, which broadcasts the supporter multimedia Cadena Xeneize. Minutes later, Almendra left the complex aboard his car at full speed.

The situation was irreversible. “As long as I am Boca’s coach, Agustín no longer plays in the First Division”, Battaglia told those who make up the Council the next day, still very hurt. And despite the public and private attempts by Bermúdez, Cascini, Delgado, Serna and Riquelme to smooth things over, they all made it clear that they regret what happened and that they value the midfielder’s football conditions, but that the coach’s decision will be respected. And so it will continue to be. “It’s a finished topic”, cut the DT every time a journalist tried to reopen that matter.

With less media noise, Alan Varela had also been sanctioned in those days. The skillful midfielder had not arrived in good condition for a practice and Battaglia sent him to train with the Reserve, under the orbit of Hugo Ibarra.

Varela was sanctioned to train with the Reserve for 10 days for acts of indiscipline;  since he came back he became the undisputed starter
Varela was sanctioned to train with the Reserve for 10 days for acts of indiscipline; since he came back he became the undisputed starterPhotobaires

Just 10 days later, Varela was pardoned. Before rejoining the professional squad, he apologized to his teammates for that indiscipline. “I apologized and no more words came out of the shame I had”, The midfielder confessed to TyC Sports.

It is no accident that since then the boy has been considered more often for parties, to the point of having become a key piece. The biggest prize was having converted the goal that classified Boca to the round of 16 of the Libertadores, in the 1-0 win over Deportivo Cali on May 26.

They are not the only ones. Valentín Barco was challenged because he neglected his studiessomething unacceptable today for the youngsters of the Inferiors of Boca, where the training goes through a whole, beyond the soccer conditions of each boy.

Vázquez delivers on the field, but Battaglia focuses on him also doing it as a professional off the field
Vázquez delivers on the field, but Battaglia focuses on him also doing it as a professional off the fieldMauro Alferi

Also Luis Vázquez received several calls for attention, with the sole objective of getting your professional life back on track. Y the same thing happened in recent days with Gabriel Vegaa 2002 category midfielder who has many conditions.

Battaglia’s goal is precisely that: that it is not all the same when it comes to playing and consolidating in the First of Boca. And that, fundamentally, the youngest understand what is the way to have a long professional career.

That is why it is also so important that the rod is identical with everyone. That if a boy makes a mistake and is marginalized from a party, the same thing happens if the one who makes a mistake is a consecrated one. Without distinction. And thanks to the respect that DT was able to earn, all the members of the squad understand and abide by it.