Like in Europe, there are two continental club competitions which are played each year in South America. The one that many are aware of is the Copa Libertadores, which is the equivalent of the Champions League. The other competition which is played is the Copa Sudamericana, which is the equivalent of the Europa League.
On Wednesday night, Argentine side Club Atletico Lanus defeated Brazilian club Ponte Preta 2-0 in the second leg and 3-1 in the aggregate score to claim the 2013 edition of the Copa Sudamericana.
The win is the second international title that Lanus have won, with their previous continental/international title coming back in 1996 when they won the Copa CONMEBOL, the predecessor to the Copa Sudamericana. Their success this season also represents a reward for a club who have been one of the best-run and most consistent in all of Argentina since 2005.
Lanus are currently in the middle of a week which could end up being the most successful in club history as they could win the Torneo Inicial on Sunday by beating defending champions Newell’s Old Boys and having the result of the Velez Sarsfield-San Lorenzo game go in their favor.
Having already won the Copa Sudamericana, they will be going into this game full of confidence that they can accomplish a feat that many would assume only one of Argentina’s big clubs could pull off.
It is precisely the fact that Lanus are not one of Argentina’s traditional power clubs that makes what they have accomplished in the last eight years a great example for all Argentine clubs to follow. It begins with the fact that the club is well run by a President and what is known as the Comision Directiva, which oversees all the club’s sporting operations.
The fact that they have run the club as well as they have is something that has become a bit of a rarity in Argentina given that so often lately, Comision Directivas have run clubs into heavy debt, especially at the bigger, traditional powers.
In addition to sound administration, Lanus also have a fine job of following a blueprint that has allowed them to see continued success on the field of play. Beginning with the era of Ramon Cabrero, the man who led Lanus to its only first division title back in the Apertura 2007 season, Lanus have fielded teams made up of players who have come up through the club’s youth teams while adding discarded players from one of the top teams.
That philosophy now has the team in a position where youth players along with players like Leandro Somoza and Santiago Silva, considered expendable over at Boca Juniors, has the club playing as well as it has this year.
In addition, since Cabrero departed, Lanus have given young coaches a chance to hone their craft. This patience has seen Guillermo Barros Schelotto show himself to be a very good coach and one who will lead a big club like Boca Juniors in a few years. Mix all this together, and its not hard to see why Lanus have won the Copa Sudamericana and why they can win the league title on Sunday.