Boca Juniors were crowned Argentinian champions after an impressive season that was largely based on young, talented academy players

Boca Juniors were crowned Argentinian champions after a dramatic final day of the 2022 Liga Professional. With one game remaining, Boca had a one-point advantage over their nearest challengers, Racing Club, but could only manage a 2-2 draw in La Bombonera against Independiente.

Meanwhile in Avellaneda, with the scores tied at 1-1, Racing were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute in their game against River Plate, famed rivals of Boca, to give themselves the chance to win the game and snatch the title right at the death.

It wasn’t to be though, as Jonathan Galvan saw his penalty saved by Franco Armani before River went on to rub further salt into the wounds with a late Miguel Borja injury-time winner.

A shot is blocked and falls kindly into the path of Borja, who uses the Racing defender as a shield to curl the ball into the bottom corner with the goalkeeper unsighted.

Despite receiving a helping hand from the most unlikely of sources, Boca were worthy winners of the league thanks to their dogged consistency in the second half of the campaign.

Shortly after the appointment of caretaker boss Hugo Ibarra, Los Xeneizes went on a 13-game unbeaten streak in what proved to be an unsurpassable surge up the table.

Boca show their resolve as they get a late winner versus Lanus. Varela clips a ball forward out toward left back Fabra, who opens his body up and invites the pressure before knocking it past the defender down the line. Meanwhile, in the center, Benedetto checks his run to go on the center-back’s blindside.
Fabra drives towards the byline, hurdling another desperate Lanus challenge, before pulling the ball back to Benedetto who has found space between the center-back and full-back to sweep the ball into the net emphatically for the winner.

Although not producing the most sparkling football, Ibarra made Boca tough to beat and ensured their superior quality, depth and mentality got them over the line, as demonstrated by the fact that 12 of their 13 victories under his leadership were won by a single-goal.

As well as tightening up a defense that had leaked 13 goals in its first 7 games, Ibarra also placed a lot of faith in the club’s young prospects. Having previously served as Reserve coach, he knew the talent Boca had cultivated and it paid dividends, with a few academy products playing a decisive role in their triumph.

Alan Varela

The defensive midfield lynchpin of the team had a fantastic campaign and established himself as a regular under Ibarra. The 21-year-old not only provided solidity and a combative presence in front of the defense but also used the ball efficiently, dictating play from deep.

Varela in his typical deep-lying position, shielding the defense and mopping up any balls in between the lines

A quick look at the stats shows his importance to the Boca side. No Boca player had a higher pass completion (88.53%) than Varela and the young midfielder also topped the charts in terms of interceptions (126), recoveries (283), and defensive duels (141).

A blend of physical toughness and technical elegance that encapsulates a classic Boca cinco, ‘Discoteca’ has become a firm fan favorite and has the hallmarks of a future Argentina international.

Luca Langoni

Arguably the revelation of the tournament, Langoni propelled himself into the limelight with a number of decisive goals. The 20-year-old forward, who only made his debut in June, scored 6 goals in 18 appearances to finish as Boca’s top scorer in the league.

It wasn’t just the number of goals but the importance of each one in determining the title. Every league goal Langoni scored proved to be the winner of the game, effectively single-handedly earning Boca 11 points.

Langoni with a trademark run in from the right flank, darts in between two defenders and springs up to plant a header into the back of the net
As Payero fires in a shot from distance, everybody just stands and watches, except for Langoni who is already on his bike, following in the shot. He gets his reward as the keeper can only parry it, leaving Langoni in acres of space to fire home.

An opportunistic, mobile forward with an uncanny knack for knowing where to be and when to pounce, Langoni’s rise from unknown reserve player to the toast of the town has been remarkable and a sign of the depth of talent the Boca academy currently has.

Exequiel Zeballos

Zeballos’ season was cruelly cut short just 10 games in after being on the wrong end of a brutal challenge against Agropecuario in the Copa Argentina. Nevertheless, what the tricky winger demonstrated in the early stages of the campaign highlighted what a jewel Boca have on their books.

Nicknamed Changuito, Zeballos still managed 3 goals and 1 assist and terrified full-backs with his directness and dribbling. This year, the mercurial 20-year-old averaged 16.6 offensive duels and 3.93 progressive runs per 90, while his dribbling (9.79 per 90) was the third highest in the league and boasted an impressive 63.73% success rate.

Although it’s fair to say he didn’t have as big an impact as Langoni or Varela, the creativity and attacking threat Zeballos provides was sorely missed and will no doubt be a welcome addition once he returns to the fold.

Zeballos begins the move by back-heel volleying the ball to his teammate. He continues his run but is almost barged off the field by his opponent but he manages to stay on his feet, narrowly avoiding the coach and linesman as he springs forward
Back on the pitch, Zeballos collects the ball and darts in-field, evading two challenges with his trademark agility and close control
Zeballos continues his run into a dangerous area, leaving players trailing in his wake. He then slips a no-look pass into the unmarked Villa on the left wing (thanks in no small part to the clever run in behind from Vazquez) and the Colombian is left with a simple finish to make it 2-0

With Cristian Medina and Luis Vazquez also getting plenty of game time and Ibarra bringing through the likes of Gonzalo Morales, Agustin Sandez and Gabriel Aranda, Boca’s youthful revolution is well underway.

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