Aventuras Américas | Part 21 | Alianza Lima #1: Bienvenido a Peru

We’re 9 years into this journey and on club number 6, so we’ll forgive you for struggling to keep up/being new! If so, begin the Aventuras Américas journey at the job hunt stage, club 1 Puerto Montt, club 2 Universidad Católica, club 3 New York Red Bulls, club 4 River Plate Montevideo, club 5 América de Cali or club 6 Alianza Lima.

Fresh from wrapping up the national title in his home nation, after two league wins and a cup success with América de Cali, there was no time for sentimentality as Robinho Lazaró was once again on the move.

So on 8 January 2030, he packed his bags, left his mother in charge of his estate in Cali and departed for the grey skies of the Peruvian capital. He spent the journey assessing the Peruvian top-tier, as he was well aware it had been the most volatile league in all the countries around the Américas throughout this save. Indeed, a different team has won the Peruvian title for the last four seasons and two previous champions during the save have been relegated. Including the club he was about to take charge of.

However, those concerns were quickly forgotten as he was welcomed to Peru and given a quick tour of Lima by Alianza Lima President Miguel Pons and his crew of cronies.

Who are Alianza Lima?

Club Alianza Lima is one of the most successful teams in Peruvian football history with 24 league titles to their name. Alianza won Liga 1 Movistar in 2022, then got relegated the following season! Upon their return, they won the league again three seasons ago. In real life, they just won the title despite being relegated last season. Go figure!

Alianza was founded in 1901 by workers in the Alianza Racing Horse Stud in downtown Lima. In 1987, the entire Alianza playing squad and coaching staff died in a plane crash when they were flying home from an away game.

Alianza plays at the 35,000 capacity Estadio Alejandro Villanueva, or Matute, named after the neighbourhood it’s located in. They have excellent youth recruitment and good academy coaching with average training and youth facilities.

Alianza has fierce rivalries with fellow Lima side Universitario de Deportes and Sporting Cristal, as well as local rivalries with Sport Boys and Municipal.

Lazaró’s new board want him to finish in the top tier of Liga 1 and, confusingly, the top three of the Liga 1 Torneo Apertura, as well as the second round of Copa Sudamericana. However, last season they finished in a shocking 12th! To arrest their fortunes, Lazaró has a £950,000 transfer budget and a wage budget of £80,000-per-week. He also instilled some sexy new kits upon his arrival…

Meet the Alianza Lima squad

According to Lazaró’s coaches, the best player at Alianza is midfielder/winger Jack Aliaga, who’s 22 and has four caps for Peru. But potentially better than him is 6ft 5in striker Fredy Méndez, who’s 24 and has six caps for Peru, but only scored six in 23 for Alianza last season. Lazaró would be putting to put that right. Another strong option is midfielder Carlo Valdivia along with a decent centre-back Áron Sánchez and left-back Santiago Giacchino.

The best prospect in the first-team is 20-year-old homegrown striker Rodrigo Contreras but there’s plenty more in the youth teams, including 17-year-old centre-back Carlos Ramírez and midfielder Stefano Liza.

There was plenty of deadwood at the club, so Lazaró immediately set about selling 17 players for a profit of £600,000, in addition to four players leaving on free transfers. Atlanta United then came in with an offer for 33-year-old goalkeeper Renato Solis, which Lazaró negotiated up to £350,000.

He returned to his homeland to snap up attacking midfielder Lucas Cardona on a free transfer from Deportivo Cali. The midfield was further strengthened by the arrival of Andrés Posada, who Lazaró had tracking for a while, on loan from Corinthians. Another player he knew well was his former América defender Edison Murillo, who came in for £250,000 rising to £500,000 to complete the foreigner quota. América, by the way, have already sold eight of last year’s first-teamers, including Salazar and Altamiranda both going to México.

Lazaró replaced Solis with a better, 11-year younger goalkeeper in Claudio Zuta for £275,000 from Juan Aurich. He also kept it Peruvian, which is important as only non-five Peruvian players can be registered, by bringing in exciting young midfielder Aaron Solano for £100,000 from Cantolao.

Having assessed the options available at his new club, Lazaró realised the club actually had right-backs so his wacky asymmetric Choasball would be of no use to him in Peru. He also decided their wing options weren’t really good enough to play any of the standard wide formations. Instead, he went with a 4-3-2-1 Christmas Tree formation (which was timely given this article was written a week before Xmas!).

Getting started in Peru

The media have Alianza as second-favourites for the title, despite having six players in the team’s dream 11. However, that’s at a huge 13/1! Binacional are the runaway favourites at 1/5, despite not having won the league and only coming in the top three once during this save. Other “favourites” are reigning champions Sport Huancayo (16/1) and Juan Aurich, FBC Melgar and Sporting Cristal (all 50/1).

To briefly explain the Peruvian league format, the season begins with teams splitting into two groups of nine for Torneo Apertura, in which they play each other once. All teams then go into the Torneo Clausura and play each other once, making it a 25-game season, before the top four enter the Champions Playoff, two go down and one goes into a relegation playoff.

Life in Peru began with a tough test away to Juan Aurich, who obviously scored with their first shot. But Cardona made an immediate impact by creating the equaliser for Méndez then a delicious pass from Giacchino sent Aliaga through to turn the game around. The hosts came back into it after the break and equalised then Méndez missed two huge chances to nick it late on, but Lazaró saw a lot to be pleased about in his opening game.

The Alianza fans got their first sight of Lazaró at home to Atlético Grau and they would have enjoyed it as the home side ran riot with 26 shots. They set a new club and league record high-scoring match with a 5-3 win, led by Méndez getting two goals and two assists, as the visitors scored three from five shots on target. Because why wouldn’t they?

Copa Sudamericana

The start of the domestic season was interrupted by continental football. Alianza began with a qualifying round and a Clásico Lima Callao Derby with the brilliantly named Sport Boys. The first leg was at home and Alianza dominated but only won 1-0 despite 23 shots to four! They conceded to a screamer early in the away leg but hit back with Valdivia and Méndez to seal progression.

Their reward was a group that included familiar foes in Colombian team Junior FC along with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann and Brazilian side Ceará. They started well with a Méndez brace and a Valdivia penalty downing Junior 3-1. Méndez then bagged a hat-trick in a 4-1 win in Bolivia. However, Lazaró had to rest players for a trip to Brazil, where they got battered 7-3 by Ceará… who had 12 shots. Seriously.

They recovered thanks to Méndez coming up big again to nick a 1-0 at Junior to celebrate Lazaró’s 47th birthday in style. A 2-0 win over Jorge Wilstermann was crucial as Ceará lost at home to Junior, moving Alianza three points clear heading into a clash between the two, which turned out to be a crazy game!

Ceará looked to have qualification wrapped up as they raced into a 2-0 lead. But Cardona’s brilliant free-kick and first goal for the club got Alianza back in it. Aliaga equalised and substitute midfielder Yuber Quinones looked to have nicked it late on. But their striker scored from a long ball over the top, only for Méndez to confirm the group win in injury-time.

A strong Apertura performance

Two more big derbies followed, starting with a trip to Sporting Cristal. After some high-scoring games to begin his reign, Lazaró was quite pleased to see Aliaga’s strike seal a 1-0 win in which they allowed just four shots. Yet another clash with Sport Boys – a third in six games! – was more comfortable as Méndez ran them ragged with an eight-minute first-half hat-trick and Posada’s first goal sealed a 4-0 win.

In four games this season, Méndez had already matched his tally of last season! The bad news was that it attracted miserly, non-negotiable bids from Wolfsburg and Mainz, but Lazaró was able to reject them without the striker getting upset.

A first defeat came at Cienciano, followed by another big derby at home to Universitario that they dominated by 26 shots to two… and nicked it 1-0. That set Alianza up nicely for the remainder of Apertura, which they wrapped up by dominating FBC Melgar. A lightning start saw them lead 3-0 after four minutes and 26 seconds with a Méndez brace and Valdivia, before Aliaga added a fourth on 14 minutes. Méndez wrapped up another hat-trick on 52 minutes then added a club-record fourth 13 minutes later! Lazaró took him off for a hero’s departure and settled for a club-record 6-0 thumping.

That put them into the Liga 1 Movistar Final, ahead of which Alianza were kindly asked if they wanted to play the first leg at home or away. And Lazaró, of course, chose away. The final set up their first clash with massive title favourites Binacional, who won Group B.

Alianza got an absolute flyer to the first leg with Cardona scoring two absolute screamers, including this beauty of a second, in the first half. Cardona then laid on goals for Sánchez and Méndez after the break to seal a bruising, surely unassailable 4-0 win! It certainly was unassailable but Méndez made sure with a towering header to seal a 1-0 home win.

Alianza Lima won Liga 1 Torneo Apertura!

Lazaró was at a loss to understand how his predecessor had managed to finish 12th last season. This Alianza side was absolutely dominant in the first half of the 2031 season, only losing once in 10 league games. Lazaró’s signings had made a difference, but the key man has been Méndez, who has 22 goals in 18 matches at an 8.22 average rating, including 14 in 10 in the league!

Join us next time to discover if Robinho Lazaró’s Alianza Lima can carry their fine form into the second half of the 2031 season!

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