Siempre Defensor- Champions! – End of 2023 Season Review

The title says it all! After winning the Intermedio stage we’ve gone on to win the double in Uruguay. Check out how we managed it below.


Results in the League and Copa Libertadores

August

Copa libs results

We started off the second half of the season by bowing out at the first knockout round of the Copa Libertadores. Boca are a massive club and we definitely held our own against them. No shame in going out of the competition to a big Argentinian club by a single goal.

Results August

We followed that exit with all guns blazing in the Uruguayan first division. Still jubilant from our Intermedio cup win over River Plate De Montevideo (which you can read about and watch the final in my last post), I now set my sights on taking out the league.

September

Results September

Our hopes of taking a clean slate win of the opening and closing stage took a hit with a disappointing loss in the “Clasico de los chicos ” derby and then a stuttering performance against River Plate. 7 points from 12 is still an ok return, but other clubs were starting to gain ground on us.

October

Results October

Mixed results here. Peñarol beating us in a game where we struggled to get going, but following that up with a great home victory against Nacional, only our second win against them in this save.  Things were getting tight at the top of the table and it set up a blockbuster final month of the season.

November/ December

Results November december

We threw away a chance of winning the closing stage with two poor performances against Liverpool and Wanderers (Particularly annoying to me as a Manchester United fan and a Sydney FC fan to lose to clubs that share names with rivals of my beloved teams). But a strong finish was important with the overall table to consider.

League positions and permutations

All this is important due to the way Uruguay decides on a champion. If a team wins the Opening Stage and closing stage and with those points combined with their 7 intermedio group matches points top the overall table after 37 games, then they are clearly the champions. However if there are different winners then there needs to be a playoff.

Closing Stage

closing stage table

We finished 4th in the closing stage 5 points behind Peñarol and Nacional, so there would be no clean sweep. Although Nacional had a goal difference 1 better than Peñarol, there was to be a playoff to determine the winner of the closing stage after the both finished on 37 points. Peñarol started badly, but managed to turn around a 1-0 half time deficit to win 2-1 and be named closing stage winners.

Overall Table

large season table

Although we weren’t as good in the closing stage, we still managed to top the overall table by 5 points and thus set up an interesting championship playoff.

We would face off against Peñarol in a playoff. If we lost, it would go to a 2 legged playoff due to us being opening and overall table toppers. But if we won the first playoff there would be no more. Defensor would be crowned champions. Whilst nerve wrecking to be a part of, it sure does make for a dramatic and exciting ending to a season. You have to be at your best all season and be lucky on the day.

Of course you know the result, but I filmed the final (with some obvious confusion about the permutations) so you can see how we did it. Click here to watch the blog exclusive YouTube final.

Analysis of the season

What a season. I really didn’t expect to do so well, especially after losing so many key players throughout the season. Our policy of giving youth a chance has really paid off and we can sit back and enjoy this success for a little bit. Of course the save doesn’t end here, I’ll be thinking deeply about what next season will look like and what will be our goals going forward. But first, let’s take a look at some of the players and stats that made this such a fantastic season.

Goals, goals and more goals!

If you’ve had a read of the May issue of Latte Quarterly you would know about my struggle with strikers last season. But this year the poacher role stepped up and the rest of the team followed suit.

We not only topped the league in scoring, but in the process managed to break the Uruguayan League record, netting 93 times. A whopping 23 goals more than second best Nacional.

We topped the league for shooting accuracy (at 49%), we topped the league for cross completion (27%), and for average possession (63%). All of these factors meant we dominated games, and we turned that into goals.

We scored 18 goals from corners, 3 from direct freekicks and  8 from indirect freekicks. If there was a stat that showed goals from throw-ins as well you can see how we dominated from set-pieces which really can be the difference between glory and mediocrity. take this as you’re reminder to spend some time on your attacking set-pieces next time you open up the game.

The last important team stat was our conversion rate. I regularly include converting chances into my training and this season it finally came to fruition, topping the league with a conversion rate of 13%.

Goal scorers are so important in a successful team, and this season we had many to thank. Serginho with 28 in 42(3) and Falconis with 18 in 21(15) lead the lines as poachers. Laquintana with 18 in 43(1) from the right wing also contributed 14 assists. Ergas with 14 in 25(22) and Silveira with 9 in 44(4) showed the effectiveness of the CM(A) role. Captain and Deep-Lying Playmaker Rabuñal notched 10 with 3 of those coming from the spot. Attacking midfielder turned Enganche, Eduardo Hernández scored 8 and made 9 assists in a breakout debut season for the club. In him I think I’ve found my Álvaro Recoba. Special mention also has to go to young Centreback, Rodolfo Bejéres who managed 6 goals, mostly from headers off corners.

in all we boasted 16 different goal scorers this season. It truly was a joy to behold and we managed to score more than 3 goals in 12 separate matches.

Awards

Of course with such a successful season comes silverware for the team and personal accolades as well. Nicolas Fernandez claims the Manager of the Year award with league and cup triumphs and a win percentage of 73%.

19 year old, and newly minted Vice-Captain, Augustin Silveira, would narrowly miss out on player of the year award to Peñarol winger Facundo Waller. However, he would go on to be crowned Young Player of the Season and top the Defonsor Sporting Fan’s Player of the Season as well. A truly fantastic season for the academy product who is now surely on the cusp of a National cap.

Silviera

awards

We also managed to make quite an impact on the League Team of the Season. Purple Domination.

Team of the Year

What next?

I’m so proud to have won the double, but I’m under no illusion that Nacional and Peñarol will just sit back and let me dominate now. They will be hungry to put Defensor back in their place. I want to keep challenging at the top and being relevant on the continental stage, but my focus always was, and will continue to be, developing youth. I still want to see my academy players playing for the biggest South American and European clubs. I want to see them winning competitions here and abroad. I want to see Defensor players swarm the Uruguayan National Team.

And so we will continue down that line, trying to bring league titles along the way. My last chat with the Board went very well and so I hope to see more gems coming through the U19s in the near future.

improve youth facilities


I hope you’ve enjoyed my successful season with Defensor Sporting. Don’t forget to watch the YouTube exclusive, follow me on Twitter, and join my Slack Channel #soggsfmblog for more news on all things fm.

Until next time…

Sogg.

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