Welcome back to On the Break! After narrowly missing out on the 2024 league title, 2025 brought us crashing back down with an awful season. Click HERE to catch up if you missed it. I had a good, long think over the off season, analysed the data, and made a few changes. If they don’t work, this could be the last season of the save!
I’ll be honest, this is probably the most underwhelming intake we’ve had since the save started. There’s a lot of potential in this group, but they’re a lot more raw talents than previous intakes, and we really need to start producing something other than strikers! Yonatan Del Capellán is probably my pick of the bunch, he’s comfortably the strongest player mentally, has a Driven personality and already has decent technicals and physicals.
As I mentioned in the last post where we looked at what went wrong last year, I had a few tactical decisions to make. We’ve removed the mid-block defensive system, instead pushing the line higher up, but we aren’t going over the top with our pressing as I’m keen for us not to lose our shape. We also rely less now on pushing the opposition play out wide, as the data from last year showed we weren’t that effective in dealing with crosses, so we need to try and reduce the amount coming in. We decided against a change back to a three at the back system, as again we’ve struggled to recruit any central defenders, but we have changed from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 to offer a touch more protection.
We’ve also moved to a more possession based style of play, we have good enough passers in the side and as one of the stronger teams in the league we need to use our extra ability to break sides down, rather than trying to rely on counter attacks when we face a lot of deep defensive lines.
Not much to say here, yet again we’ve struggled to find any suitable targets, so muddling on with what we have. Most of what the scouts bring back to us are Brazilians and Columbians, but I’m wary of getting too close to the registration limits again. With this in mind, three foreign players have left – Payares and Morales had already agreed deals to go and Alzemand was behind Boggio and Schneider in the pecking order to play as the Mezzala so I’d rather he went and got some game time. He’ll be joined at Wanderers by Nahuel Paiva for some much needed top division experience, he was on the cusp of staying but I just don’t think he’ll play enough to deny him the loan.
We only made one signing but it’s a good one I think. Júnior Tavares comes in and is very capable of starting at left-back, but I actually think he’s an interesting option as our Carrilero, playing on the left of the midfield three. Either way he adds quality and experience, and I’m delighted to have him. Andrés Madruga (who came up as an interesting data point in the last post) and Maximiliano Ratti have also signed pre-contract deals and will join in July, but I don’t expect either to feature this season.
We looked good again in the friendlies, letting Las Parejas score was a touch disappointing as it was just one long ball over the top that did us, but that’s the risk you take with a higher line no matter who the opponent. It was good to see the likes of Solís, Schneider and Colman all get on the scoresheet, they could all have significant roles to play this year.
This is much more like it, compared to last year. We look infinitely more suited to dominating games, although I’ve been tweaking based on the opposition more this year and it’s paying off, especially away at Nacional. We’ve been quite wasteful and are taking a lot of shots to score on occasion, relying on several late goals to seal wins, but we’re still learning and right now I’m just delighted with winning games.
The annual end of stage collapse wasn’t quite as prominent this year, but 5 games without a win really hurt us as we went from wasteful to completely toothless. The strikers haven’t been performing at all this season, Solís and Centurión have a single goal each which is a pathetic return, while Colman had made 6 fruitless substitute appearances before he unfortunately broke his ankle against Danubio.
It seems that nobody wanted to win the Apertura this year, with Nacional and Peñarol both dropping several points too. 32 points is the lowest winning Apertura total since Nacional earned 30 back in 2021. To play both of them away from home and avoid defeat is excellent progress, we adapted the system to face them and reaped the rewards, but losing again to Cerrito is a frustration, they’re becoming a real bogey team of ours, and to make it worse we made them stronger with Juambeltz and Dufour!
Just as I wrap up the league update, I have to give a mention to Nahuel Paiva, who has grabbed his opportunity at Wanderers with both hands, scoring 10 goals and assisting 5 more in 13(1) appearances! He’s finally starting to look the player I was so excited about when he came through the first intake and it’s taken all of my will power to resist recalling him. I don’t want to risk him coming back and then struggling the same way that Solís and Centurión have when he’s in such good form elsewhere. Best case scenario it’s a confidence issue and they’ll perform in the Intermedio, worst case it’s an issue with the system and I’ll tweak some more.
Last year the Copa Sudamericana was our high point but also our biggest inconvenience. We reached the Semi-Finals at huge detriment to our league form, and we start this year in it’s preliminary round, where we face familiar foes Danubio.
Fairly routine really, we outplayed them in both legs and never looked in danger of not progressing. This led us to the group stages, where I didn’t really know what to expect, there are a lot of sides I know nothing about, but also some very big names – Cruzeiro, Internacional, and Estudiantes amongst others.
I’m relatively pleased, we avoided the biggest names, and although we face Banfield and Once Caldas who are both from more reputable leagues, they’re both struggling and I’m confident we can get some results.
So far, so good. I’m disappointed to have lost to Delfin, but they did to us what we were doing to sides last year and scoring on the break to punish our inability to finish. We were particularly good against Once Caldas and have put ourselves into a great position, but our remaining fixtures are Once Caldas (A) and Banfield (H), so we’re far from home and dry.
That’s it for this post, next time we’ll wrap up the 2026 season. Can we get some strikers scoring? I hope so! Let me know what you think in the comments or over on Twitter.
Thanks for reading.