FALCIONI Y LA RECONSTRUCCIÓN CONSTANTE

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Se termina un 2017 que fue bueno a nivel futbolístico para Banfield, con la clasificación a su cuarta Copa Libertadores en la historia, un campeonato peleado mano a mano con Boca y la consolidación de muchos juveniles. Julio César Falcioni ha sabido suplantar las distintas bajas pero al final del año se desnudaron las falencias del plantel, que deberá reforzarse si quiere hacer un papel digno en el certamen internacional.

Banfield había finalizado el 2016 de manera inmejorable, con cinco victorias consecutivas, algunas ante rivales de la talla de Estudiantes -que iba puntero-, Newell’s en Rosario o Independiente en Avellaneda, y en el quinto puesto de la tabla de posiciones. Sin embargo, el comienzo del 2017 fue muy convulsionado. El plantel se negaba a entrenarse por las deudas que tenía el club con ellos y se terminaron alejando Santiago Silva y Walter Erviti, las dos figuras del equipo.

Parecía un golpe durísimo que haría que Banfield volviera a los puestos de mitad de tabla, pero el club logró traer dos buenos refuerzos a costo muy bajo: Dario Cvitanich y Renato Civelli. El ex Boca mostró un gran nivel, inusual para un jugador que venía de una liga menor como la NASL (lo que sería la segunda división de Estados Unidos, aunque no hay ascensos y descensos) e hizo que no se extrañara a Silva, siendo importante con goles pero también con juego afuera del área. Civelli aportó toda su experiencia en un plantel lleno de juveniles y le dio más solidez defensiva al equipo, reemplazando a un dubitativo Jorge Rodríguez y haciendo una buena dupla con Carlos Matheu. A Erviti, que jugaba como mediapunta por detrás del delantero en el 4-2-3-1 de Julio César Falcioni, lo reemplazó Brian Sarmiento, quien venía siendo suplente y a pesar de algunas lagunas, respondió bien a la confianza del técnico y logró el mejor nivel de su carrera.

A ellos se les sumaba el doble 5, que era el motor del equipo. Eric Remedi se ocupaba de hacer los relevos y Emmanuel Cecchini, que sorprendió a todos y fue uno de los mejores volantes del torneo, era el más creativo. Nicolás Bertolo cobró importancia tras la partida de los dos referentes, Hilario Navarro dio seguridad y los laterales juveniles Gonzalo Bettini y Alexis Soto mostraron un buen nivel. Falcioni logró que el equipo se hiciera sólido en el fondo y los ataques eran muy directos. Las transiciones eran rapidísimas, se buscaba mucho a Cvitanich con pelotazos largos o a los extremos Bertolo o Mauricio Sperduti. Otro movimiento interesante era el de Sarmiento, que empezaba como enganche pero en muchas ocasiones se tiraba a la derecha y le ganaba la espalda a los volantes rivales.

Así, a pesar de que empezó con dos derrotas, Banfield hizo un gran semestre. Fue un equipo muy regular, al que no le sobraba nada y le costaba mucho ante los equipos grandes pero ganaba los partidos más “ganables”, haciéndose muy fuerte de local. Sufrió un duro golpe al perder el clásico con Lanús por 4-2, pero algunas fechas después tuvo revancha en el Florencio Solá y lo venció por 1-0, apostando por un juego más lento y de más posesión para anular la velocidad del rival en los contraataques. Tras una victoria ante Central y algunas dudas de Boca y River, llegó a la anteúltima fecha siendo el único equipo con chances de arrebatarle el título al Xeneize. Pero perdió con San Lorenzo y la última fecha ante Racing. A pesar de eso, tras el agónico empate de su rival Lanús ante Independiente, logró terminar en el quinto puesto y entrar a la cuarta Libertadores en su historia (tres de esas cuatro clasificaciones las logró con Falcioni).

Con un club casi quebrado, no había dudas de que el presidente Eduardo Spinosa utilizaría la gran campaña del equipo para vender jugadores. La partida de Cecchini al Málaga por 4 millones de dólares más objetivos le dio aire económico al club y no se podía discutir demasiado. Otra buena venta fue la de Soto, que se fue a Racing por 1.5 millones de dólares. Sin embargo, además de ellos dos, se fueron otros tres pilares del equipo y a clubes no tan importantes: Hilario Navarro a Boca Unidos, Matheu a Huracán y Sarmiento a Newell’s. Así, Falcioni perdió a cinco de los once titulares y también a buenos recambios como Gonzalo Prósperi (San Martín de San Juan) y Juan Manuel Cobo (Independiente Rivadavia). Como contrapartida, llegaron dos buenos refuerzos como Pablo Mouche, viejo conocido del entrenador, y Jesús Dátolo, otro referente de la casa.

El plantel perdió mucho en lo futbolístico. Seguía teniendo nombres importantes en el once titular pero salvo seis jugadores, todo el resto del plantel estaba conformado por juveniles, incluyendo el banco de suplentes completo. Jugadores que eran suplentes pasaron a ser titulares y los que ni siquiera eran alternativa pasaron a ser el primer recambio. El colombiano Mauricio Arboleda y Facundo Altamirano se alternaron el arco, Rodríguez volvió a la titularidad para reemplazar a Matheu y Adrián Spörle se adueñó del lateral izquierdo. Dátolo, en su nueva faceta de volante central creativo que adoptó al no tener el despliegue de años atrás, no tuvo el rendimiento esperado, lateralizando mucho el juego pero sin profundizar. Mouche jugó de mediapunta con total libertad (naturalmente es delantero por lo que el esquema pasaba a ser un 4-4-2) y fue el mejor jugador del equipo, con buen promedio de gol y siendo, en algunos partidos, el único que se rebelaba.

El equipo tuvo un gran arranque, con tres victorias en las primeras cuatro fechas, ante buenos equipos como Racing o Central (4-0 en Arroyito, cortando una racha de 63 años sin que el Taladro ganara allí). Pero le duró poco. Las dudas defensivas, las desconcentraciones, las lesiones de sus figuras Cvitanich (que estaba en gran nivel), Civelli y Bertolo y la polémica por la no venta de Cvitanich a River le jugaron en contra. Falcioni debió darles minutos a jugadores que nunca habían jugado o que lo habían hecho poco como Claudio Bravo, Alexis Maldonado, Nicolás Linares, Claudio Villagra, Juan Pablo Álvarez, Luciano Gómez, Michael López o Julián Carranza. Solo Carranza, que tiene 17 años y es la gran esperanza de Banfield, pudo mostrar un buen nivel, pero el resto reveló la gran diferencia que había entre titulares y suplentes. El modelo de apostar por tantos juveniles funcionó cuando estuvieron bien respaldados por los referentes, pero lanzar un gran número a la cancha fue perjudicial y se notó la falta de recambio cuando había que ir a ganar o a empatar un partido. Además, otros jugadores como Bettini, Remedi, Bertolo, Sperduti y Rodríguez bajaron notoriamente el nivel. Solo Mouche sostuvo al equipo, que tuvo una mala racha y terminó el año en el puesto 16º y además cayó ante Godoy Cruz (el primer rival de Primera División que le tocó) en octavos de final de la Copa Argentina.

El final del año desnudó las falencias del plantel. Banfield tiene buenos jugadores pero que se lesionan seguido y que necesitan más compañía. Con el nivel con el que terminó, parece difícil que pueda llegar a fase de grupos de la Libertadores 2018. Con el nuevo formato, debe superar dos rondas de repechaje, ante Independiente del Valle y luego, Nacional de Montevideo o Chapecoense. El plantel necesita mínimo un buen refuerzo de cierta jerarquía por línea para poder lograr ese objetivo. Aunque hoy en día la prioridad en el Sur de Buenos Aires, claro está, es que mejore la salud de Falcioni, que deberá reconstruir una vez más al equipo y recuperar la solidez y la regularidad. Con el Emperador, quien logró los mayores éxitos de la historia del club, Banfield puede soñar.

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