I had been wanting to travel a little further afield to a game outside the autonomous city of Buenos Aires, and Banfield’s derby with Lanús provided the perfect opportunity. The Clásico del Sur pits Banfield, or El Taladro (the drill), against their neighbours to the immediate north, Lanús, known as El Granate (the maroon/claret). The two teams have come to be regarded as the biggest in Greater Buenos Aires’ southern suburbs: the Zona Sur.
The game was to take place at 3.45 pm on Sunday the 10/04/16, meaning the all important return journey to the city would be straightforward, making the game that bit more appealing. Lanús went into the match flying high with a three point lead in Zona 2 of the league, with realistic aims of playing for the Torneo de Transición title should they maintain their form.
Banfield however were slumming it near the bottom of Zona 1 having failed to win in 8 matches; however the return of El Emperador Julio Falcioni as manager had filled the locals with hope. Falcioni had guided Banfield to their first and only championship win in the Primera during the 2009 Apertura, where Colombia’s golden boy James Rodríguez starred among others.
The General Roca train line brings you right into Banfield with only a few blocks to walk to the Estadio Florencio Sola. This meant it would be rude not to stop in a typically Argentine bar for a pre-match Choripan, there’s nothing better. Accessing the stadium itself was effortless, with zero police or steward checks, allowing time to admire the green and white murals and graffiti.
The stadium is nice and compact, and very tight to the pitch with one covered stand, which I decided to watch the game from – seeing as the rain had come and the fact that Plateas are more affordable with the less glamorous clubs outside the city. Being a smaller stadium, the entire Popular was filled with animated home fans doing their best to help their team play beyond their means.
A few smokebombs were set off at kick off and the synchronised bouncing was an impressive site from my lofty seat. The barra had printed green Darth Vader masks and unveiled a ‘Yo soy tu papá’ banner to let the visitors know who there daddy is – Coach Herman Boon style.
Banfield came out with plenty of effort, determined to demonstrate they were aware of the game’s importance. However it was evident pretty early that for all their huff and puff, they just didn’t have the ability, athleticism or organisation of their impressive neighbours.
Lanús soaked up plenty of Banfield pressure and scored an inevitable goal on the break at the end of the first half, thanks to a disastrous miscontrol by the otherwise solid Banfield left back Soto. Banfield kept their spirit up in the second half and with the crowd growing in belief it seemed they might snatch an equaliser as Lanús spurned many a counter-attacking opportunity.
This is Argentina however where the heart rules the head. The referee gave a second yellow to the Banfield striker Santi Silva having finally tired of constant dissent. The red mist descended again just minutes later as the Banfield centre back decided it was the ideal time to try and obstruct Lanús’ dangerman Lautaro Acosta with his elbow. 9 men, game over. Lanús played with Banfield and scored a second just before the finish to kill it off.
A disappointing result for the Taladro, but enough shown to suggest the return fixture in two week’s time is not a foregone conclusion.