Another skeleton in the Elephants’ Graveyard

Sava can\'t believe Racing\'s luck

And so it comes to this. Three seasons of struggle against the drop came down to one head-to-head match to decide who, out of Colón de Santa Fé and Racing Club, would remain in the Primera A next season, and who would have to enter a two-leg playoff against a side from B Nacional to defend their place in the division. Racing have had a season of the most appalling luck, and it got no better in Santa Fé on Sunday…

Inevitably, the match begun at a hundred miles an hour and in spite of neither side being able to afford a loss (though a draw would suit Colón), both defences were in generous mood, with shooting opportunities hardly at a premium. The hosts, though, looked the better team, with an organised 4-4-2 helping create chances for front men Darío Gandín and Rubén Ramírez. Racing, for their part, relied too heavily on Maxi Moralez, and the supply line was cut by Germán Rivarola and Alejandro Capurro working hard in the middle of the pitch.

Racing had a chance early on, Facundo Sava knocking a high ball on for Moralez, who shot on sight and flashed it wide. That was in the fifth minute, just one minute after Marcos Cáceres had cleared a goalbound header from Ramírez off the Racing line, and it was to prove the visitors’ only real chance of the first half. As the match drew on, nerves crept in, fear of losing affecting Racing in particular, with Colón’s organisation allowing them to control the match with the knowledge that the point would be enough for them.

Bizarrely, Colón changed strategies at half-time, their aim of controlling the game and allowing themselves to relax a little giving way to a new and unusual method of getting what they needed from the match: giving the ball to their opponents as often as possible, and defend desperately. For a long while, it didn’t make any reasonable difference, as Racing’s lack of finesse in the final third continued to act as much against them as any real competence on the part of their opponents. Late on, pressure began to tell.

With six minutes of the ninety remaining, Cáceres hit a shot which skimmed the top of the crossbar; two minutes on, Sava saw a header narrowly over. Racing were pushing forward, searching hard for the game’s only goal. Two minutes into stoppage time it arrived: at the other end of the pitch. Substitute César Carignano seized on an error from Cáceres and ran way up the pitch, getting into Racing’s box and knocking the ball sideways for Rivarola, who finished left-footed and with aplomb.

Colón are safe for another season, and for Racing it’s the nailbiting Promoción. They’ll play Belgrano de Córdoba over two legs, with the first coming on Wednesday in Córdoba. Two more matches to save a season…

5 thoughts on “Another skeleton in the Elephants’ Graveyard

  1. Colón played like Racing normally do, and if Racing had even one reasonably good striker, then that game would have been won, even with ten men. Sava’s dip in form, apart from the goal against Huracán, has been alarming. In the Apertura, he seemed to be playing sides on his own sometimes. Now, Maxi Moralez, sometimes Navia, even Chanchi Estevez for crying out loud, are creating chances for him but it’s miss, miss, miss, and a pained expression as if some extraneous factor has put him off scoring.

    People say ‘well, you have to get in the positions to miss them’, but that’s no use when you’re in Racing’s position. If Racing survive this, then whoever’s running the club in 2008-09 should pawn our last shreds of credibility and get someone like Delorte from Argentinos Juniors… or even Tonellotto. I’m not setting sights very high here, but I think either of these strikers, with the chances that Sava’s had, or Avalos has had, would have ensured Racing’s survival.

    By the way, any Racing fans who want to read about Belgrano in English, go to their wikipedia page and click the link on Fan’s Blog at the bottom. A Pirate in Nottingham. He must like this page as well, cause he’s linked to it!

  2. I think that I’ve posted this before: Second day in Argentina 1988; host brother took me to Racing v. San Lorenzo; I was hooked; this, even with the shady “running” of the club, is really hard to watch. They should stay up, but who knows. Racing have had a good three to four games where calls have really cost them this year.

    Vamos Acade!

  3. Thanks for mentioning the Bergantin Pirata site, Matthew. I was sure I’d added the link to that site to the HEGS sidebar absolutely ages ago, when he first linked to me, but you’ve aroused my suspicions and sure enough, it’s not there. It will be about a minute after I post this comment…

  4. Unbelieveable! It appears that the first leg of Belgrano-Racing is taking place at the same time as that of the Copa Libertadores final! 9.20pm which is 0120 UK Time. So, for a start, no coverage on Canal Plus, which will start it’s Libertadores preview at that time. And it looks like no streams either yet, I think most of the usual Justin TV ones will be covering the Final.

    It’s been a while since I had to stay up till 3 in the morning to follow a Racing match, but stay up I will, as luckily I have a few days off work this week. If I wake up a whole Manchester street shouting ‘GOOOOOOOOOLLLL!’, you may hear the subsequent row in Avellaneda.

    According to Belgrano’s blog, we only need two draws to stay up, so you really have to be optimistic. Having said that, the Belgrano people seem to be putting a lot of faith in Suarez. I’ve never seen him play, but if Anderlecht have signed him up, he must be of an excellent standard for La B, and needs watching. Gigli I already know, Pages has been around a bit and is tough to get past from what I remember, plus Lux is really an ‘A’ player.

    My eyes are getting tired though. They settled on two names in the squad list – FARIAS, Mario and MACEIRA, Ernesto – and my eyes popped out of my head as I thought I saw FARIAS, Ernesto!
    I thought we were really stuffed for a second…

    For those interested, Unión – Jujuy is 1800 hrs that’s 10pm in the UK.

  5. You are really getting into this game, Matt! That’s the way a proper Racing supporter does.

    My wife is leaving Argentina to work abroad for two months and she leaves on that very Wednesday! Luckily enough, the flight is a good few hours before kickoff so I’ll have plenty of time to drop her at the airport and get back home to watch it.

    But…if we lose…I’ll feel pretty lonely and sad!

    That Belgrano blog is right. We’ve got the advantage in case of a draw in points and goal difference. There’s no way there’ll be penalties and I think that’s great news because I’m not signed in for a heart transplant and I doubt mine would resist such a situation.

    I’d add another bit of info to that. Belgrano played the promoción three different times. THEY WON ALL THREE! 2 as the struggling primera división side, one as the up and coming second division outfit. Not their players, but at least their supporters know how to face a situation like this.

    On the other hand, only 3 out of the last 8 promociones matches have been won by second division sides (and 6 out of 16 in total).

    What worries me is the possibility of not winning in Cordoba and get to Avellaneda on Sunday needing to score 2 or 3 or more goals. I don’t think we’ll be able to do that with the crazy pressure that’ll be on our players.

    And I say: “Give Belgrano 2000 tickets and no more than that! I’m sick and tired to give the entire away end to our rivals and get a tiny 2k everytime we visit other grounds”.

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