11th place in the Apertura, with as many losses as wins, one match that didn’t get played until March, and more goals conceded than scored. They lost 5-0 to River and 7-1 at home to Boca. In January, Ramón Díaz arrived at San Lorenzo. And tonight, with one match still to play, just six months after the end of that embarrassing Apertura, San Lorenzo are the champions of Argentina.
What finally clinched it was a manic 4-2 win over Arsenal in front of a vociferous home crowd on Sunday night in which they went 2-0 up in seventeen minutes, were pegged back to 2-2 by half time, and finally ran off with it in the second half thanks to a double strike from Gastón Fernández. But the seeds were sown before this.
During the Summer Tournament San Lorenzo looked very tight at the back but shorn of imagination going forward, and yet in hindsight it becomes clear that Díaz’s main reason for building such a side was that dreadful Apertura defence. Once that was sorted, he forged an attacking trident of Nestor Silvera, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gastón Fernández which rapidly clicked and became very potent indeed. Two men have brought this title to Boedo more than any others – Díaz and Fernández, who was signed near the end of the transfer window from River (who had no sensible reason whatever to let him go). Two men with strong River affiliations, winning a title with one of the club’s biggest rivals. That’ll go down well with the fans.
The second-highest scorers – Boca have thus far managed ten more, principally thanks to those two Palermo-inspired annihilations of the La Plata clubs – and the best defence in the league, though, shows it was a proper team effort and, moreover, a second consecutive title for a less ‘fashionable’ club – albeit this time it was one of the ‘Big Five’. The players throughout the squad have been superb, to the extent that at one point there were debates about whether this side were as good as the last to win San Lorenzo a championship, the great side of 2001.
It’s San Lorenzo’s tenth national title, and the first since that Clausura win six years ago. Quite a turnaround in just six months, but El Santo Díaz, as he was christened by Olé on his return to Argentina, was always a bit of a miracle-worker…