A few hours before the final of the South American Cup between Lanús and Defensa y Justicia, there is much talk – with good reason – about the kids of the Garnet, the long-term project of the club, the work of Luis Zubeldía and all his coaching staff. And maybe the mistake is made of labeling the Falcon of Varela simply as a team with second chances, as an institution to which the youths who have no place in the great teams of Argentine football arrive. But the central defender Adonis Chilly (22) and the thinking wheel Valentin Larralde (20) are a clear example that Defense also bets heavily on its Inferiors: both will start at Mario Alberto Kempes.
Valentín Larralde expresses himself as if he were an experienced soccer player. That is why it was not surprising that he was chosen to give the official Conmebol press conference in the run-up to the grand final. The boy born in the El Pato neighborhood, Berazategui, plays as he lives: serene, thinking, thoughtful, without fanfare. “I try to enjoy everything that is happening to me. It all happened at once. I knew I could have the opportunity to train with Primera after the pandemic, but honestly I didn’t think I was going to have to play so much, “he tells Clarion Larralde, who signed a contract with the club until 2024.
Larralde never doubted his qualities, not when he had to leave Independiente or when he was released from Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata. “I arrived at Defensa in 2018 through Guillermo Hernando and quickly Pablo De Muner gave me the opportunity to establish myself in Reserve. And it was Crespo who brought me and 7 other guys from the club to First“, explains Larralde, who is already doing the coaching course at Menotti’s school. Yes: he is 20 years old and already has a clear future. “I like studying and the course is an extra tool that helps me understand the game more. I watch the videos of my matches a lot and I love to watch football, “says the midfielder who has Andrés Iniesta, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernando Gago as references.
-What are the keys to Lanús and Defense for the final?
-Lanús is a great team that knows what it plays and handles various stages of the game. He folds up well and is deep playing counterattack. Defense has an idea with which I feel very identified: I enjoy playing here. Mobility and solidarity are fundamental for us, because we are a team that takes many risks to go on the attack.
A closing of Adonis Frías against Emmanuel Adebayor. EFE / Nathalia Aguilar
Adonis Frías had a hard time coming to this present. He came to the club at age 13 to prove himself 9. It was, but it did not take long to pass behind. He skipped stages until he reached Reserve. Two knee injuries and some tears relegated him. In 2018 he went on loan to Los Andes and showed a great level. He returned expectant, although he did not play with Mariano Soso. It was Hernán Crespo who catapulted him to the First. “I will always be grateful to Hernán”, he assures this newspaper.
-What kind of ending do you imagine?
-I think it’s going to be a nice game. We are very confident. I see a protagonist Defense: we cannot speculate. We will try to impose ourselves through play, as we have been doing. It is clear that we have to take precautions because Lanús is a great team with good players.
-You are going to have to mark José Sand …
-TO Pepe we all know him: he is a lethal scorer. We know its virtues, which are many, and its defects. He is a great striker. He is in splendor at 40 years old. You have to be very attentive because he makes you a goal in an oversight. I will have to play a great game to win that duel.
-Is the absence of Lautaro Acosta an advantage?
-The captain is going to be missing, one of his emblems. It is clear that they are going to feel it. But at the same time we know that we cannot trust ourselves because Lanús has great players and whoever replaces him will do so in a great way.