Welcome to the latest events in Avellaneda were Diego Milito has inspired Racing Club to continental glory in lifting the Copa Sudamericana to go alongside the Copa Argentina victory. My last update took us up to the Semi Final draw were we were paired against Brazilian club Fluminense with the 1st leg taking place at home in Avellaneda. I knew that this would be a big test and I was proved right with us grabbing a slender 1-0 win in the 94th minute courtesy of Lautaro Martinez but it was our midfield trio of Federico Vismarra, Arévalo Rios and Diego González who put in a fine display of industrious team work to overpower and contain the Fluminense midfield. I would obviously have liked another goal cushion but I was happy to see the boys performance against a strong opponent. The result spurred the board to offer Milito a new contract which was signed without hesitation giving the rookie manager a 2 year extension.
The 2nd leg in Brazil was now upon us and I knew that our Brazilian hosts would come out fighting in their own back yard so I decided to fight fire with fire and changed our system to go on the offensive from the start in hope that we could grab an early goal. I went with a 3-4-3 system playing with 3 forwards Lopez,Martinez and Walter. The game kicked off and as expected Fluminense went on the offensive and we had to weather an early storm but my plan worked when Marcelo Meli slotted home to give us the vital away goal that we wanted. We then switched to a counter mentality and shut the game down and it worked a treat however Wellington Silva scored an injury time equaliser for the frustrated Brazilians but it was much too late we had reached the Final and it was well deserved. A special mention for Walter who was a constant threat on the night with his aerial domination making it a difficult night for the Fluminense back line.
So to the final with the first leg taking us to our opponents backyard in the Final Columbia’s Independiente Medellin who have had an excellent trip to the final over achieving on the way.
This was the Matiás Zaracho show the 18 year old put in a fantastic display scoring 1 and 4 assists in a crushing 5-1 away win that more than puts one hand on the trophy. Zaracho ran the show from his right wing position were he had licence to roam, he crafted out chance after chance and Meli, Walter,Lopez and Gonzalez all benefited from the young Argentine’s display. Independiente had no answer to our attacking display.
The 2nd leg at home in the Cilindro was a formality with us being crowned Copa Sudamericana Champions after a 2-1 win on the night thanks to a double from Lautaro Martinez giving us a 7-2 aggregate win. Our man of the match in the 1st leg played in a more central Advanced Playmaker role with Diego Gonzalez suspended so Santiago Rosales took up the right wing role. It was nothing more than the Racing support deserved has they celebrated a cup double and qualification to the group stage of the Copa Libertadores.
Milito was hailed the king of Avellaneda by the Argentine media after his fantastic start in management but the partying would be cut short has we now had to focus on the league.
We faced Boca Juniors in the Supercopa has we looked to win a treble of cup competitions but we came up short losing on penalties after a 2-2 draw in a very even game. We got our goals via Rosales and Martinez.
Our focus had now turned to the league has the whole club felt that we could mount a title challenge we had already played Huracan D 0-0, Banfield W3-1 (Walter, Zaracho and Vittor), Estudiantes W1-0 (Walter) and San Martin W3-1 (Meli,Amaral and Vittor) before winning the Sudamericana. After the Copa Sudamericana Final we had a trip to play Argentinos Juniors and I was keen to make sure we were focused on the job ahead and that we were not going to fall victim to a continental hangover so I gave the lads an assertive briefing before the game and it worked with Lautaro Martinez grabbing 2 of our goals in a 3-1 win with Lisandro Lopez getting our other goal. Our next game at home to Patronato produced a battling 1-0 win thanks to the inspirational Marcelo Meli getting our winner. Derby day in Avellaneda next with a short trip across the way to face Independiente with the day ending in a 0-2 defeat ending our 27 game unbeaten run and Milito’s first experience of defeat in management. I knew we had to bounce straight back from the derby defeat and a trip to Gimnasia La Plata was our next outing so I decided to give the side a little shake up by making a couple of changes with the most notable being bringing in Rodrigo Amaral to play behind complete forward Walter has a trequartista and was I was pleased with the performance winning 2-0 with both Amaral and Walter getting the goals.
With the squad in good spirits we were now focusing on a title charge. Temperley at home next and another 2-0 win with both goals coming from the outstanding Marcelo Meli who is without doubt one of the best midfielders in Argentina and his form continued in to our next game when he provided an injury time winner for Lisandro Lopez has we beat Club Olimpo 1-0.
A very poor performance followed in the Cilindro when Chacarita Juniors came and silenced the crowd inflicting a 0-1 defeat upon us. Not a result that we had expected but one that we deserved. San Lorenzo were the next visitors to Avellaneda and nothing less than a win was needed to keep our title hopes alive and that is what we got winning 2-0 with both Meli and Walter getting on the scoresheet. We followed it up with another 3 points this time away at Arsenal de Sarandi coming away with a 1-0 win thanks to Diego González.
The clash of the day next saw us visit the Estadio Monumental to face 3rd placed River Plate amidst a colldron of noise but we looked on our game and took the lead courtesy of Lautaro Martinez after 18 minutes. We pushed for a second but could not kill the game and conceded ourselves after a slick River move. As hard has we tried we failed to get another goal and left with a 1-1 draw. Another draw followed this time 2-2 away at Godoy Cruz with Lautaro Martinez grabbing a brace. If we had any chance of winning the title we certainly threw it away with a very low par performance against Defensa y Justicia inside the Cilindro were we lost 0-3 that all but handed the title to Boca barring an upset.
Going into the last 2 games of the season we were trailing Boca by 2 points so we needed them to slip up whilst we win our games with the first of them being an humdinger of a game away at Atlético Tucumán which we managed to win 3-2 in time added on with Lautaro Martinez scoring his 2nd of the game and his 30th goal of the season. Walter got our other goal has news filtered in that Boca had beaten Patronato to remain two points ahead of us going in to the final weekend of the season.
The final weekend of the season had given us an home game against Colon de Santa Fe with Boca at home to Tigre who we needed to pull off an upset. We kept our part of the deal winning 2-0 to round off our season with both Barbieri and Walter getting the goals. With news from La Bombonera that Boca had secured victory we had come up short by 2 points finishing runners up in Milito’s first season in charge looking back at the below par performance against Defensa y Justicia and what might have been.
Running alongside our Superliga fixtures we had the Copa Libertadores group stage to navigate, yes it’s full on here in Argentina with the schedule but I am not complaining this is the premier tournament in South America equivalent to the Champions League in Europe. We got a decent draw that paired us with Nacional of Paraguay, Emelec of Ecuador and Caracas of Venezuela giving us a very good chance of progressing to the knockout rounds. Our opening game was at the Cilindro against Caracas which we won 2-0 with both our frontmen Martinez and Lopez getting the goals in a game we dominated from start to finish. A trip to Paraguay followed to face Nacional who just happen to share our La Academia nickname and play in the compact 5000 capacity Estadio Arsenio Erica. I decided to start our Paraguayan forward Walter González on his return to his homeland and he got us off to a good start with 34th minute goal to send us in 1-0 up at the break. We came out for the 2nd half on the front foot and scored 3 goals via Zaracho and Martinez 2 to win the game 4-1 and cement our place at the top of group F. We were off to Ecuador next to visit Emelec were we recorded our 3rd win of the campaign beating the Ecuadorian side 3-0 with Martinez, Rosales and a first club goal for us from Quignon. A convincing 3-0 win at home to Nacional followed with a brace from Lopez and another Quignon strike. The last game of the group stage was away at Caracas and we needed a late Walter goal to give us a 100% record topping the group and awaiting the 2nd round draw.
I have moved quick in the transfer market to capture the signature of Rosario Central’s Maximiliano Lovera who will come straight in to the first team squad
The 19 year old looks to have loads of potential and will be part of a new system that I am building at the club has we aim to build a solid club DNA.
FM18 has rekindled my love for the game and I am really enjoying my time on the game which I mentioned before is being limited more with me taking the decision to only play on non working days which means on average it will take me a month to finish a season which is a nice steady pace. Playing only on non working days has also kept my enthusiasm for the game alive because in the past I have gone overkill on it and not appreciated the finer points of the game. With the Xmas period approaching I will be getting more game time in because my Xmas leave starts on the 13th December and ends on the 8th January giving me a total of 25 non working days on the horizon, however I don’t plan to play everyday but I think I may have season 2 completed at least during this time so come the later stages of FM18 I think the save will have run around 10 seasons.
Above you will find our new kit design made by Alfonso Poblete. Take a look at Alfonso Poblete (@AlfonsoPoblete): https://twitter.com/AlfonsoPoblete?s=09 I think the shirts look fantastic and thank Alfonso for his time in making these for me. Lastly I would like to thank you for taking the time to visit and read my blog.
Milito’s Managerial Journey is up and running with an enjoyable season behind us it’ now time to build on a superb double winning campaign.
The Story So Far
Copa Sudamericana Winners Copa Argentina Winners
Superliga Argentina Runner-up Super Copa Argentina Runner-up