2015 seems to be a time of rebirth for Boca Juniors. After years of poor results, the Argentine team has found a new consistency and, at times, has been able to play some top class football.
With an impressive unbeaten streak comprising of eleven wins and two draws, the squad headed by Rodolfo Arruabarrena not only leads the Primera Division but has also reached the second round of the Copa Libertadores.
The team’s turnaround is the result of many factors, with one of the highlights being the arrival of two players who are now key to the structure of Boca Juniors: the Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro and the striker Daniel Osvaldo.
Lodeiro, a regular on the Uruguayan national team, arrived at the club at the request of Arruabarrena who saw the ex-Corinthians man as an ideal replacement for Juan Roman Riquelme.
With the departure of “Roman” in June 2014, the Xeneise team lost a key player who, despite being in the last stage of his career, was the only one capable of generating something different on the pitch.
While Lodeiro is a different kind of player (much more dynamic but without the exquisite technique of “Roman”), the Uruguayan has fulfilled the task positively.
His arrival had a positive impact on his teammates, especially Fernando Gago who, after a long time searching, finally found a suitable partner. Unlike last year, where the defensive midfielder was forced (by the shortcomings of the team) to conduct the attacking moves of Boca, Gago can now concentrate on his defensive duties, leaving the responsibility to lead the team at the feet of Nicolas Lodeiro.
The case of Daniel Osvaldo is different in many respects. At first, his arrival was an initiative by the board that was highly criticised by the fans for not renewing the contract of Riquelme last year.
However, the front third was well covered by Cristhian Chavez, Juan Manuel Martinez and especially Jonathan Calleri who had finished the previous season performing at a high level.
Still, despite the overpopulation of attackers, Arruabarrena gave his approval for the arrival of former Inter player. The head coach understood that Osvaldo, with his international quality, would be a major contributor to a team that wanted to regain its lost glory.
The sports press, meanwhile, looked at the signing with suspicion. Osvaldo’s erratic stint with Inter Milan and a high media exposure (Osvaldo is paired with a famous Argentine actress) led many journalists to doubt his chances of success as a player of Boca Juniors.
The man known as “El Loco”, however, soon showed his unique qualities. With six goals in eight games, he is now the top scorer of the team and one of the most beloved players for the fans.
The Primera Division has not yet reached the halfway point for the current season but Boca Juniors, with a style based on flashy and effective football, is emerging as a true contender for the title.
The fundamental contributions of Lodeiro and Osvaldo have added to the good performance of some players who, until last year, had been harshly criticised and now have a huge thirst for putting things right.
Boca Juniors has again become the great team that once was. For those who love football, this is great news.