The K O B E

Meet Oscar Ruíz. He’s a 21-year-old Colombian player that we got for less than 2 M from Atlético Nacional. Truth be told, he was one of those bargains that I just couldn’t let slip past me. As it is, we have too many Colombian players in the reserve squad of River Plate or loaned away, due to the foreigner player restrictions of the game.


Oscar was a prospect, a hot one. But I had other great and experienced players in his same positions in the first team, waiting for a chance in the bench, fellow promises in the reserve squad and the magnificent Tovar, out on his 3rd loan at Flamengo. Yet Oscar found a crack, took it and left something bigger than his own name.

Yes, he’s got a first touch rating of 17, a 19 in determination, 16 in vision, work rate and technique and his passing skills are just below 15, but if you look closely, this Midfielder can also dabble as a central defender. So I thought about playing him for his midfielder stats in a Ball Playing Defender role and gaining an extra ballplayer in my 5-2-3. That didn’t cut it.

Before I get into the tactic itself, and how Oscar became pivotal to it, let me give you some context. The year is 2023, it’s my 5th season at River Plate, having arrived from Stoke City in the 2018/19 season. We’ve won it all. Five Argentinean leagues and 5 Copa Libertadores in a row, a couple of Supercups each year and reigning in the Club World Cup (against City, United, Chelsea and Bayern). But I don’t like the way we play. I’m Argentinean and a River Plate fan. That means that the 4-3-1-2 is part of my DNA. Thanks to Oscar, and my eagerness to give him a go, I found the missing link.

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