And one day Ricardo Gareca again sat down on the local bench at the José Amalfitani stadium. Exactly 10 years, two months and 26 days have passed since 15 December 2013, when he said goodbye after the goalless draw with San Lorenzo. And the return was the great attraction of the previous one with Platense.
At 20:50 the first ovation came, as the voice of the stadium finished reciting the starting lineup and named it for the first time. “Ole, ole, ole, Tiger, Tiger” and “What joy, what joy… by the hand of the Tiger, we will become champions.” Thursday, the day of the official presentation, about 3,000 fans who filled the audience in the lower part of the North made the Tiger move. And this Monday 13 they have multiplied on the four sides of the Amalfitans: the popular place, the visitor, is 90% full, the North stalls are full again; and the lower and upper south stalls, quite complete. More than 35,000 Fortineros fans didn’t want to miss the return of the coach who won four titles between 2009 and 2013.
Although as a player he trained in the lower ranks of Boca, Gareca has never hidden his love for Vélez. He had the pleasure of playing in the early 1990s and in late 2008 arranged for him to take over as manager after an offer from Christian Bassedas, the club manager. And this time he couldn’t disappoint the man, also a friend, who trusted him. “Welcome Home, Tiger”, highlighted the e-poster. “El Tigre, el Tigre”, could be read at length on the poster placed in the south stalls, which just before the start made up a mosaic with the word Gareca.
“Look, look what a madman, look, look what a thrill, this is the famous Tigre who has returned to Vélez to be champion”. After the thunderous song of the four teams, at 20:58, El Tigre, still thin, with official tracksuit, hair and beard more well-groomed than in the last media appearances, left the substitutes’ bench where thousands of photo of him, and he was waving to all four sides. First to the popular local, then to the south, then to the visitor full of locals and finally to the north. More focused on the debut, he managed to hide his emotions from him. It is known, in these cases, the procession goes inside.
As soon as the game started, the team showed its first tactical choices: 4-2-3-1, without Lucas Janson who felt a nuisance in the warm-up and that’s why Walter Bou came on and with Lucas Pratto well on point. After three minutes, on a pass from Bou, Pratto converts. Goal was such a necessary illusion these days for Vélez fans. But the former defender was just a shoulder forward, as indicated by Miguel Savorani and confirmed by the VAR layout almost five minutes later.
Jason Root is the go-to source for sports coverage at News Rebeat. With a passion for athletics and an in-depth knowledge of the latest sports trends, Jason provides comprehensive and engaging analysis of the world of sports.