As the saying goes, sometimes 1 plus 1 adds up to more than 2. We will no doubt see that formula in action in both of this weekend’s semi-final games in the 124th Argentine Open. Each of the four teams has a power-pair that was instrumental in getting them to the semis. Here are the most dangerous (and exciting) player pairings to watch for.
The Magic: Cambiaso and Nero work seamlessly together. Nero’s defensive proficiency (he’s a stonewall) allows Cambiaso to remain aggressive and offensively minded. Cambiaso leads this year’s Argentine Open in field goals (6.3) and shots (10.3) per game. He manages the game and when he rotates to the back, Nero rides for the pass. Cambiaso’s pinpoint passing sets up runs for Nero to finish.
The Play: Frequently when the opposing team attacks, Nero hits a backhand to Cambiaso and takes off running down the middle/far side of the field. Cambiaso then finds Nero directly or finds another player with a pass who then finds Nero for the breakaway run.
The Proof: Best illustrated in La Dolfina’s game against La Irenita, when Cambiaso and Nero combined to make 11 field goals. La Dolfina won 21-4.
The Magic: The brothers are great at supporting each other’s attacks, and it helps that they know Miguel Novillo Astradais protecting defensively. When they attack goal each has done so individually for the most part, knowing he has support if he runs into a defense. Ignacio can often pick up the ball and find space for an individual attack down the field. Alejandro helps create space for Ignacio while also providing support.
The Play: Ignacio will come forward, with Alejandro usually already forward in the #1 position. Then Alejandro joins in and supports Ignacio either close to the ball or as a passing option.
The Proof: Best illustrated in La Aguada LM’s game against La Albertina. The duo combined for six field goals on 10 shots. Ignacio finished several runs with nice goals as he found space coming from the back position. La Aguada LM won 13-10.
The Magic: Polito and Gonzalito are effective at rotating between the #1 and #2 positions. That often means they are at the front of the game regardless which jersey they’re wearing. When either one is forced back defensively, the other typically stays forward a bit more to receive a pass. This always provides a passing option downfield for Nico and Facundo Pieres. When Ellerstina causes a turnover in the middle of the field, quick passes or backhands from Polito or Gonza can often set up the other for a run.
The Play: While they don’t often directly connect to create a play between just the two of them, you can often see Gonza working hard to free up Polito, opening him up for a pass from Facundo/Nico. The times they do connect is often from a turnover and quick backhand by Gonza to set up Polito
The Proof: Best seen in their opening game of Argentine Open against Chapaleufú. Both players were super active offensively, combining for 16 goals (12 from the field) and a total of 20 shots. Ellerstina won 21-7.
The Magic: If you ask Sapo why he and Facundo play so effectively together, he’ll look at you very seriously and pause, apparently deep in thought. “Well honestly, I think it’s because we both have the same birthday: November 23!” By then he’s laughing, but indeed it is true. Their birthday was yesterday, and they went out and had a wicked wild (and well deserved) celebration.
Humor aside, Caset is stunningly efficient and is tied with Pablo MacDonough (La Dolfina) as the tournament’s second-highest scorer (4.7 goals per game). Having recently switched between the #1 and #3 positions, he and Sola and play a similar style of game. They both usually like attacking goal with speed and finishing around goal. Sola is uncannily tuned into Caset and has been effective at recognizing Caset’s attacks and rotating back to protect defensively. When that isn’t necessary Sola involves himself more heavily in the offense, riding ahead of Caset to receive a pass downfield.
The Play: When Fred Mannix or Hilario Ulloa starts the attack and passes to Sola or Caset, the other takes off down the middle of the field. When Caset is running with the ball around midfield, Sola often gets just in behind the defense. Then Caset hits a long pass, allowing Sola to run onto it. This has also worked well in reverse, with Sola passing to Caset.
The Proof: Best seen in Alegría last game against Chapaleufú (probably Sola’s best game). This combo made a total of 12 field goals (six apiece), with many coming from passes between them. Alegría won 18-10.
Photos by Katerina Morgan