Sporting Cristal – Match report vs Academia Cantolao 31/08/20

Sporting Cristal’s revolution under coach Roberto Mosquera continued against Cantolao, who had earned four points from its opening two matches since Liga 1’s resumption. Despite a nervy 20-minute period in the first half, Sporting Cristal eventually ran away with a convincing victory after a brilliant second-half display. More than half of Cristal’s starting 11 contained players aged 23 and under, with each of the six youngsters playing pivotal roles in the win.

Ratings

A1 – Very good, could play higher
A2 – Strong potential to play higher
B1 – Good, strong player at level
B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
C – Average for the level, rewatch
D – Below average in this match

Martín Távara

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Peruvian
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 25/03/1999
  • Current Club: Sporting Cristal
  • Career: Sporting Cristal, UTC (L)
  • Position: Central Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Having played across the midfield in 2019 under Claudio Vivas, Martín Távara has permanently slotted into a double pivot with Horacio Calcaterra in Roberto Mosquera’s 4-2-3-1 formation.

Since then, Távara has become Sporting Cristal’s orchestrator, similar to ex-Cristal midfielder Yoshimar Yotún’s role with the Peruvian national team. The buildup constantly goes through the 21-year-old, which was the case against Cantolao. He was occasionally pressed by 18-year-old prodigy Yuriel Celi, but he managed to evade that pressure before hitting a line-breaking pass to one of Cristal’s wingers in open space. 

Távara was able to show off his playmaking abilities on this day, too. He produced a sublime first-time ball over the top of Cantolao’s defence for Emanuel Herrera’s opening goal. Ten minutes later, Távara hit a well-placed corner to the head of a wide-open Omar Merlo to double Cristal’s lead. A subsequent Távara corner to Merlo drew a penalty in first-half stoppage time, which Herrera converted to hand the club a 3-1 lead.

Perhaps Távara’s most underrated quality is his ability to recover possession. Because of his tall frame, he’s able to reach in and win the ball cleanly without having to dive into a tackle. His anticipation and reading of the game are sublime, which is helpful considering he isn’t the most agile player.

That’s why Távara’s future should be in a deeper-lying midfield role. Despite this being his second full season as a starter, there’s no doubt that his club future lies outside of Peru if he continues to grow in that position.

Rating – A1

Gianfranco Chávez

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Peruvian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 10/08/1998
  • Current Club: Sporting Cristal
  • Career: Sporting Cristal, Deportivo Coopsol (L)
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Secondary Position: Right-back
  • Preferred foot: Right

It was a rougher outing than usual for Gianfranco Chávez against Cantolao. The 22-year-old defender conceded a penalty after attempting a sliding tackle on Yuriel Celi from behind, which was subsequently converted by Celi. 

It wasn’t entirely his fault, though. Chávez was covering for left-back Nilson Loyola, who failed to track Celi’s run behind the defence. That being said, goalkeeper Renato Solís had the angle covered and might’ve stopped any shot attempt from Celi had Chávez not intervened.

The tackle is a microcosm of Chávez’s game in that he’s very aggressive off the ball. This occasionally leaves Cristal exposed on counter-attacks since his partner, Omar Merlo, is significantly slower. If the youngster was deployed in a high line or had an equally quick centre-back next to him, then this wouldn’t be an issue.

But that aggressiveness benefits Chávez with his distribution. He’s excellent in possession and exhibited this against Cantolao repeatedly. He was able to draw Cantolao’s forwards towards him before hitting passes to Távara or Calcaterra, who’d then transition the play forward. He even attempted some longer passes towards the wingers and Herrera to exploit Cantolao’s lack of pace at the back.  If he can harness that overzealousness, then Chávez will be ready for a new challenge abroad.

Rating – A2

Washington Corozo

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Ecuadorian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 08/07/1998
  • Current Club: Sporting Cristal
  • Career: Independiente del Valle, Sporting Cristal
  • Position: Right Wing
  • Secondary Positions: Left Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

When Washington Corozo joined Sporting Cristal from Independiente del Valle, there was a lot of excitement for his arrival. Coming into the 2020 season, Corozo had the potential to be a leading winger in Liga 1 with the opportunity to make a jump to a better league within a year or two.

If there’s one lesson that’s been learned in his short time in Peru, it’s that Corozo is far more dangerous on the left wing. It’s where he predominantly started in 2019 with Independiente and led to his move to Liga 1 in the first place.

He was simply unplayable against Cantolao on Monday. His dribbling, quick feet and pace were too much to handle. As the game wore on and the defence’s fatigue grew, the Ecuadorian tore them apart.

Corozo scored Cristal’s sixth and final goal of the match after a sloppy giveaway in midfield by Cantolao. The young winger latched onto the loose ball, bursted past the defence and finished with aplomb to round off a resounding victory for Cristal.

If Corozo can just improve his touch on the dribble and overall composure in the box, he could be one of the league’s top players by season’s end.  

Rating – A2

Kevin Sandoval

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Peruvian
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 03/05/1997
  • Current Club: Sporting Cristal
  • Career: Ayacucho, Sporting Cristal
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Secondary Positions: Right Wing
  • Preferred foot: Left

Having just received a call-up to the Peruvian national team camp, Kevin Sandoval was clearly buoyed by that honour versus Cantolao.

The winger put in a strong defensive shift with right-back Carlos Lora, ensuring that Mario Tajima couldn’t have an impact on the game. Sandoval managed to influence the attack with a quality chance for Herrera, who wasted the opportunity. 

Having just switched flanks this season, Sandoval might have a stronger impact as an inverted winger where he can cut onto his left foot. He’s set to receive significant minutes with Cristal as well, which might boost his stock in Liga 1.

Rating – B1

Carlos Lora

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Peruvian
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 23/10/2000
  • Current Club: Sporting Cristal
  • Career: Sporting Cristal
  • Position: Right-back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Carlos Lora made his full professional debut with Sporting Cristal and it couldn’t have gone any better for the 19-year-old. Lora was very sturdy defensively. He completed five interceptions and was practically impenetrable on the right flank. He even produced a secondary assist on Christofer Gonzales’ strike in the 63rd minute.

As the match continued, Lora pushed further into the final third to influence the attack and that’s what allowed him to be involved on Gonzales’ goal. The teenager finished the game with 20 of 27 passes completed and two accurate crosses while lasting the full 90 minutes.

But it’s the defensive side of Lora’s game that was the most eye-catching. The fact he knew where to position his body to keep the play in front of him will benefit the teenager if he can log more appearances in the coming weeks.  With veteran Renzo Revoredo struggling at the moment, Lora can easily lock down a spot on Cristal’s backline for the foreseeable future, especially if he replicates that performance.

Rating – B2

Renato Solís

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Peruvian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 28/01/1998
  • Current Club: Sporting Cristal
  • Career: Sporting Cristal
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Preferred foot: Right

A former Peru youth national team regular, Renato Solís had a rather indifferent game against Cantolao. There was nothing he could’ve done to stop Yuriel Celi’s bullet from the penalty spot and the second goal he conceded was unstoppable as well.

The positive for Solís is he’s developing more confidence as he logs more starts. Communication and command of his area were much improved against Cantolao. He was decisive when claiming crosses or while coming off his line to stop a one-on-one chance. It was an otherwise uneventful afternoon for Solís as he wasn’t called upon too often, even when Cantolao mounted some pressure late in the first half. However, if he keeps trending upward, then Solís can become a top goalkeeper in Liga 1.

Rating – B2

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