Aventuras Américas | Part 38 | Godoy Cruz #1: Record-Breaking Defence

We’re moving to club 11 on this journey, so here are a few bookmarks to the clubs we’ve taken charge of throughout the save. Feel free to 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, club 6 Alianza Lima, club 7 Puebla FC, club 8 Palmeiras, club 9 FC Edmonton, club 10 Newell’s Old Boys or club 11 Godoy Cruz.

Strong form with Newell’s Old Boys had led top-tier side Godoy Cruz to take a gamble on Colombian / Brazilian title specialist Robinho Lazaró at the start of the 2039/40 season.

Having worked wonders with youth at Newell’s, Lazaró was pleased to see his new side – the 11th in his adventure across the Américas – also had plenty of exciting young prospects.

Who are Godoy Cruz?

Club Deportivo Godoy Cruz Antonio Tomba is based in the city of Godoy Cruz in the Mendoza province, which is up in the north-west of Argentina. It has fierce rivalries with San Martín (SJ), San Martín (Mza) and Independiente Rivadavia and smaller rivalries with Dep. Maipú, Gimnasia and Andes Talleres.

The club plays in the Liga Profesional de Fútbol and has never won the Argentinian top tier but does have a second-tier title and two Supercopa Argentina wins. Godoy Cruz finished second in the first and fourth seasons of this save, then got relegated in 2027! But they’ve been back in the top tier since 2031 and finished third (behind Boca and River) as recently as 2036.

Like all good things in life, Godoy Cruz began when, in 1921, a bunch of chicos were in a bar and decided to start a football team! It was first called Sportivo Godoy Cruz but added the rest on when it merged with Deportivo Bodega Antonio Tomba. Famous former players include former Argentina international Enzo Pérez, who scored its first-ever top-tier goal in 2006.

Godoy Cruz play at the 40,268-capacity Malvinas Argentinas and have adequate training and youth facilities and average youth recruitment. The finances are slightly better than Newell’s with £400,000 in the bank and no major debt to speak of. Lazaró’s new board want him to work towards becoming the ‘best of the rest’ in Argentina and, for no obvious reason, sign players based in Paraguay!

Meet the Godoy Cruz squad

The best player at Godoy Cruz is attacking midfielder Walter Gaitán, who’s being chased by the likes of Gremio and Palmeiras. Equally good is the club’s all-time record goalscorer Christian Bonetti, fellow striker Juan Aguirre (who wants to move to a bigger club), and winger Braian Rodríguez. They also had two solid centre-backs in Maximiliano Salvatierra and Gabriel Vargas, who’s only 15 games short of the all-time club record of 316 league appearances, and a decent if aging goalkeeper Enrique Sansolini.

The best prospect at the club is winger Franco Rizzo, followed by centre-back Francisco Álvarez, full-back Enrique Salvá and more-established midfielder Gabriel Ranalletta.

However, Lazaró was a little concerned by only having a 16-man first-team squad! So he bolstered the numbers by dipping into the loan market and, specifically, Corinthians with Mexican striker Juan de Dios Valenzuela and Colombian attacker Giovanni del Castillo. And they were joined by Brazilian defender José Lucas, who came in from Internacional.

Tactics-wise, Lazaró initially returned to the 4-3-3 he’d used to good effect in México, with a few role variations. But with the new signings in, he was more tempted by a more attacking 4-3-1-2 approach.

Into the Argentinian top-tier

The media had Godoy Cruz as fourth-favourites for the title at 25/1. Boca, who’ve won five titles on the bounce, are favourites at 10/11 followed by River (5/2) and Independiente (16/1).

Lazaró’s first taste of the top-tier came at home to Argentinos Juniors and a late Bonetti goal nicked a 1-0 win in a terrible game. Another clean sheet followed in a slightly less terrible 0-0 at San Telmo, then another as del Castillo scored the only goal on his debut at home to Tigre, who had one shot for 0.00 xG! And they remarkably set a new club record six clean sheets on the bounce with consecutive 2-0 wins over Rosario Central, Instituto ACC and Atlético de Rafaela.

The outrageous defensive effort ended but the winning streak didn’t as they defeated Defensa y Justicia 3-1 with Gaitán and Aguirre both scoring their first goals of the season. And that took them top of the league!

Facing Argentina’s big boys

Godoy took that great start into Lazaró’s first-ever clash with 43-time Argentinian champions Boca Juniors, but suffered their first defeat as the visitors won 2-1 after being marginally the better side. They then drew at 11-time winners Vélez Sarsfield, despite missing an absolute sitter in the last minute, but bounced back to form with Bonetti, who Lazaró moved into a shadow striker role, bagging a hat-trick in a 3-0 win at two-time champions Quilmes.

A big test followed with a trip to 17-time Argentinian champions Independiente, who’ve finished in the top four in all bar one of the last 13 seasons. And another defeat unsurprisingly followed, losing 3-1 to four shots on target. But they recovered with home wins over Unión de Santa Fe and Banfield, who won their only title in 2010. Another big away day took Godoy to 15-time champions San Lorenzo and came close to a massive result as a Bonetti injury-time winner was narrowly ruled out for offside.

A first clash with rivals Rivadavia was decided by a shocking penalty decision after four minutes and a 3-1 loss. A far more solid performance saw them get back on track with a 2-0 win over the brilliantly named Chaco For Ever. That teed up a visit from 18-time Argentinian champions Racing Club – which is the most outside of Boca and River – and a Bonetti goal was enough for a big 1-0 win despite 3.11 xG.

The first half of the season concluded with a trip to River Plate, who nicked a poor game 2-0 with late goals in both halves. Lazaró was concerned about a lack of goals, which continued as they only beat San Telmo 1-0 after del Castillo scored inside 67 seconds. That came on the same day as Superclásico, in which River won 1-0 at Boca – taking Godoy just one point off the top of the table! And the same scoreline followed as Belotti got the only goal at struggling Argentinos Juniors.

Those results took Godoy into a mid-season break four points behind Boca with a game in hand. Defence has certainly led the way, with just 15 goals conceded in 21 games – which is only bettered by San Lorenzo’s impressive 13 conceded. But Godoy’s 29 goals is well short of Boca’s 47! Bonetti is the second top scorer in the league with 12 goals, only bettered by Racing Club’s Mauro Fabero on 15, and is also for assists (6) and average rating (7.57). While Sansolini leads the way with 12 clean sheets.

Can Robinho Lazaró maintain Godoy Cruz’s strong form and mount an unlikely title challenge to Boca Juniors? Join us next time to find out!

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