As the clock ticked over into 2040, Godoy Cruz were outperforming expectations in second place in Liga Profesional de Fútbol. That meant the Argentinian title – the only top-tier division eluding Robinho Lazaró on his Aventuras Américas journey – was a possibility in the first year of the new decade.
However, a title charge seemed unlikely given they were chasing the dominant force of Boca Juniors and with River Plate picking up form through the middle of the season.
Lazaró spent a month mid-season break trying to find players worth signing to strengthen his squad. But he generally failed and fell back on three more deadline day loan deals from Brazil in midfielder Claudemir, right-back Nathan and centre-back Eduardo Augusto.
Back to league action
The first match after the break didn’t start well as Tigre scored their first shot. But Godoy came flying back with five goals in half an hour, including braces for midfielders Walter Gaitán and Diego Gómez, then gifted Tigre two goals back to win 5-3!
That win gave them the confidence to dominate Vélez 3-0 at home led by the increasingly impressive Gaitán before midfielder Braian Rodríguez bagged his first goal of the season in a 2-1 success at Rosario Central, which took them to five successive wins. And a late Gaitán stunner at Atlético de Rafael took them to a club-record six wins on the bounce!
They extended that record with a 2-0 win over Instituto ACC on the same day Boca drew 3-3 with Vélez, which sent Godoy top of the league! But that didn’t last long as they drew 2-2 at Defensa y Justicia, whose only attacks came straight after both of Godoy’s goals, then 1-1 at Independiente, who have a strong team but are struggling.
That teed up a huge top vs. second clash as Lazaró made his first-ever trip to Boca’s imposing La Bombonera stadium. Godoy came out much the stronger team, racking up 12 shots to four in the first half without creating any major opportunities. But striker Giovanni del Castillo missed a great chance one-on-one with the keeper early in the second half and that set the tone. Godoy continued to have the best chances but spurned them, unable to get past Boca keeper Ramirez who made 11 saves and played an 8.5. However, there were plenty of positives for Lazaró to take from the performance overall.
They bounced back and moved to 11 games unbeaten by edging a 1-0 win in a terrible game at home to Quilmes, in which there were more yellow cards than shots. Elsewhere, Boca lost 2-1 at Independiente.
Copa Libertadores group stage
The second half of the league season was paired with Lazaró’s return to the Copa Libertadores for the first time since 2036 with Palmeiras. Godoy were paired with one of his former clubs Universidad Católica along with Cerro Porteno and Envigado, which would test his 20-man first-team squad! The group began with Lazaró returning to Santiago for the first time in 15 years. But there was no romance here as his team put in an awful performance to lose 2-0.
He was forced to fully rotate for the home games against Cerro Porteno and Envigado as they were either side of the Boca trip. But it worked out as young starlets Franco Rizzo and Jerónimo Parisi scored their first Godoy goals in a 4-1 win over Porteno before a 0-0 draw with the Colombians. The rotation continued as they drew 0-0 at Envigado then won 2-1 in Paraguay and a Parisi double saw them beat Católica 3-1 at home. But that was only enough for third and dropping into Copa Sudamericana.
A genuine shot at the title!
Godoy’s strong league form meant that, with eight games remaining in Liga Profesional de Fútbol, they were tied with Boca on 64 points with River four points further back. And, as a reminder, Godoy have never won the Argentinian top tier, while Boca and River have 43 each!! However, their run-in was tough.
Game 1 – Unión de Santa Fe (20th, away): Godoy absolutely battered the bottom side with 16 shots to one in the first half. And they finally made the last one count as Rodríguez’s perfect free-kick doubled his tally for the season. More of the same followed the break and Rodríguez curled in his second of the game on 82 minutes. They somehow conceded a consolation with the opponents’ only shot on target (because why wouldn’t they?) but won 2-1 with a dominant 31 shots to five. Boca and River both also won.
Game 2 – Estudiantes (LP) (4th, home): Virtually the same story followed as a del Castillo double led a 2-1 win over a poor Estudiantes, who didn’t even have a shot until the 75th minute when they were already 2-0 behind. Boca and River both drew, which took Godoy top with six games remaining!
Game 3 – Banfield (14th, away): Godoy again conceded to the first attack they faced but came flying back in superb style. They scored three in 15 minutes, del Castillo doubled his tally just before the break, Gaitán finished off a brilliant team move just after it and del Castillo wrapped up a hat-trick to seal a stunning 6-2 win! Boca and River both won to keep Godoy two points clear. That win, incidentally, broke the Godoy records for most points and most wins in a single season.
Game 4 – San Lorenzo (5th, home): The winning streak came to an end in a surprisingly subdued performance to draw a terrible game 0-0. Boca won to go top on goal difference.
Game 5 – Chaco For Ever (8th, away): Godoy responded excellently as a Gómez brace and del Castillo sealed a 3-1 win at Chaco. Boca won again to stay level on points going into the final three games.
Game 6 – Independent Rivadavia (9th, home): A visit from their rivals was easily the biggest derby in Godoy’s history. And that showed as a club record 40,268 fans flocked to Malvinas Argentinas, beating the previous record of 38,117. That extra support proved vital as Godoy started well with del Castillo missing an early chance then making up for it by scoring the opener on 18 minutes. They went on to dominate, preventing Rivadivia from even having a shot but just winning 1-0. At the same time, Boca drew 0-0 at home to San Lorenzo to send Godoy top with two games remaining!
Game 7 – River Plate (3rd, home): Godoy had a two-point lead over Boca and were now nine clear of River heading into the final two games. And their penultimate match was a tough one against River the day before Lazaró’s 56th birthday. Godoy again started the better but neither side created much in a quiet first half. But that man Gaitán stepped up to break out of midfield and slam home the opener just before the hour mark. River offered nothing until the 80th minute when Sansolini made a vital save with their striker through one-on-one. And that proved to be enough as Godoy sealed another 1-0 win. Boca won 2-0 at home to Independiente, which saw the title go to the final day!
Game 8 – Racing Club (14th, away): The final day took Godoy to Racing, who hadn’t won in 10 league games and were at risk of relegation, while Boca went to 8th place Chaco For Ever, who’d lost three in a row. Lazaró was extremely nervous heading into this huge game. But if his players were then they didn’t show it as they came out flying! del Castillo tapped home twice from close range in the first 10 minutes before Gómez curled home a beauty from 25 yards on 22 minutes. And del Castillo was set free to wrap up his hat-trick four minutes later, with Racing getting one back another two minutes later.
Things calmed down and they went into half-time 4-1 up. But del Castillo bagged a club-record fourth on 74 minutes to remove any doubt and seal a 5-1 away win.
Godoy Cruz were champions of Argentina for the first time in their 119-year history!!
Lazaró had done it! 20 years after departing the streets of Medellín, the Colombian had not only achieved his goal of becoming a Football Manager, he’d also completed the domestic side of the Aventuras Américas challenge. He added the Argentinian title to those he’d already collected in Chile, USA, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru, México, Brazil and Canada.
Godoy won the title by two points from Boca, with both sides only losing four times all season. They also set the third-lowest title-winning points tally since the start of this save. However, Godoy finished the campaign on an outrageous 19-game unbeaten streak! del Castillo was the third-highest scorer with 21 goals and his strike partner Christian Bonetti got the most assists (17), followed by Rodríguez’s 15, and the highest average rating (7.52). And that earned Bonetti Argentine Premier Division Best Player award.
This was obviously the greatest season in Godoy Cruz history as they became national champions for the first time. It was also probably Lazaró’s proudest moment as he honed a strong squad that rose above the faltering giants of Boca and River.
Bonetti was the star man of the campaign, with 16 goals and 17 assists in 39 games, plus a club-high 7.50 average rating earning him fans’ player of the season. However, he only scored once in his last 13 games, but did get eight assists in that time. del Castillo was almost as good with 21 goals and three assists in 36 games.
Gómez popped up with 11 goals and seven assists and Gaitán got nine goals and six assists, which earned him young player of the season. While Rodríguez racked up 15 assists with a 7.24 average rating and Gabriel Vargas impressed at centre-back with a 7.24 average rating.
Aventuras Américas next steps
The main target of this FM22 adventure is done and dusted, with all nine league titles in North and South America looking pretty in Robinho Lazaró’s trophy cabinet. However, he still had ambitions to win South America’s biggest prize, Copa Libertadores. He also had eyes on international management with either of his home countries Colombia or Brazil, with the goal of winning Copa America and the World Cup.
Initially, he fully intended on staying with Godoy Cruz to have a more focused attempt at continental football. However, the club’s finances were really poor so he kept an open mind to new opportunities and vowed to keep an eye on vacant roles.
And two appeared just as the 2040/41 season was starting in Argentina, as both Palmeiras and Flamengo sacked their managers. Lazaró applied for both, and his former club immediately rejected him. But he was instantly made the favourite for the Flamengo role and, eventually, offered an interview and the job. And this was an opportunity too big to turn down with continental football in mind.
Join us next time to discover what awaits Robinho Lazaró as he returns to Brazil with Flamengo!