Vélez Sarsfield Reserves – Match Report vs Boca Juniors Reserves (24/02/23)

Vélez Sarsfield ran out 2-1 winners over Boca Juniors during their meeting in Argentina’s reserve league, continuing El Fortín’s impressive start to the campaign. The away side lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which at times became a 4-4-1-1. Vélez’s overall technical superiority shone throughout the 90 minutes and, coupled with their offensive rotations and general fluidity, proved too much for Boca to handle. A brace of first-half goals was enough to seal the victory in spite of Boca’s attempted second-half comeback.


Youth Ratings

1 – Ready for the first team
2 – Good, potential to be first team
3 – Decent, could make first team squad
4 – Decent potential, unlikely to make it to first team
5 – Unlikely to make first team

Thiago Fernández

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Argentinian
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 03/04/2004
  • Club: Vélez Sarsfield
  • Career: Vélez Sarsfield
  • Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Thiago Fernández was deployed as an attacking midfielder, playing in-behind striker, Francisco Pozzo. He was allowed the freedom to drift beyond his centre-forward, as well as into both right and left half-spaces. Fernández stands at around 1.75m, with a relatively slight build. The 18-year-old boasts decent acceleration when attempting to burst away from opponents, though lacks the capability to maintain top-pace over longer distances. That being said, given his role, this isn’t a deal-breaker. Fernández’s ability to slalom in-and-out of challenges is impressive. His relatively low centre of gravity coupled with great balance prove pivotal to this.

In possession, Fernández is accomplished. On multiple occasions throughout the match, he demonstrated his adeptness at linking up in and around the opposition penalty-area with neat and intelligent one/two touch combinations. The teenager possesses good vision. Frequently, he spotted and executed eye-catching defence-splitting passes. An element of his skill-set that really did stand out during this performance was his ability to slow the game right down, then enticing an opponent into challenging for the ball, before swiftly threading through a well-weighted pass, or himself accelerating away. Often dubbed ‘pausa’ — a highly useful weapon for any player to have in their arsenal. Fernández is extremely secure technically. Comfortable in tight-spaces and highly inventive with the ball at his his feet.

Fernández displayed composure and poise in his final action throughout the game. None more so than when stepping up to emphatically fire a penalty into the top corner, giving Vélez the lead. The attacking midfielder’s first touch was largely impeccable and, paired with his understanding of what his next action should be upon ball-reception, highlighted his innate combination of technical ability and in-game intelligence. Fernández did, at times, attempt overly-ambitious actions in the final third, though personally I didn’t find this discouraging. Confidence and ingenuity are two traits worth their weight in gold.

Rating – 2

Thiago Fernández produced a good performance during his side’s victory over Boca. He routinely displayed an impressive technical base, along with an eagerness to create. Physically he may only be decent – rather than outstanding – but, given his ability in possession, I feel he’s not far off the level needed to begin making an impact at senior level. Whether that be in Vélez’s first team or on loan at another top-flight club remains to be seen. Personally, though, I feel Vélez should take full advantage of his talents.

Lautaro López

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Argentinian
  • Age: 17
  • Date of birth: 30/03/2005
  • Club: Vélez Sarsfield
  • Career: Vélez Sarsfield
  • Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Lautaro López lined up as the more defensive of two central midfielders in a double-pivot. Almost immediately it became apparent that López had been tasked, primarily, with shielding his back four, whilst also proving a vital cog in build-up. Physically, López is well-developed for his age. Standing at around 1.84m, he possesses the mobility to adequately cover ground, and is particularly adept at closing off passing lanes. His initial burst of pace over the first few yards isn’t eye-catching, but does enable him to evade pressure when required. When duelling, López displays tenacity coupled with decent upper-body strength, often allowing him to come out on top in said duels.

There’s a real elegance about López when in possession — something that was on display constantly throughout this match. The 17-year-old routinely demonstrated his ability to keep things simple via short and sharp passes, whilst also offering verticality with progressive, line-breaking passes when the opportunity arose. In the build-up to Vélez’s second goal, López split Boca’s back-line with a sublime pass, creating the simplest of opportunities for his team-mates to capitalise upon. Despite being right footed, he isn’t averse to using his weaker left foot. A particularly impressive aspect of his game, which was highlighted during this performance; his ability to create angles for his centre-backs whilst in possession of the ball. Doing so, he demonstrates intelligence by occupying space and, in turn, creating new and improved passing options, whilst also exhibiting confidence in his own ability to receive under pressure.

Technically, López is solid. His first touch is, for the most part, good, as is the body shape he adopts when showing for the ball. During the first half of this game in particular, Vélez spent prolonged periods inside Boca’s half. López was instrumental to his side’s ability to sustain pressure, largely in thanks to his ability to recycle possession swiftly and efficiently whilst also providing cover to snuff out the majority of transitional moments faced. Sadly, López succumbed to an injury around the 60 minute mark and was promptly withdrawn.

Rating – 2

I’ve now watched López on a few occasions and each time he’s been a standout performer. Both his ability in possession and intelligence without the ball, added to his natural tenacity makes him a really interesting defensive midfield prospect. At 17-years-old he plays with an extremely mature head on his shoulders, and I feel confident in saying that he’ll go on to have a good career. Ideally, first-team involvement at Vélez will come in 2023. For my money, top-end clubs in Portugal & the Netherlands would do well to keep close tabs on Lautaro López.

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