"I'm sure we can stay in this division." It seems ridiculous to suggest that Palestino would be embroiled in a relegation battle when you look at them now but it wasn't the case last season. The former Colo Colo coach arrived at the club when they were fighting for their life in Colombian's top flight. It wasn't an easy situation to walk in to but he made it work. After they beat Independiente de Medellín on penalties, Palestino secured their place in Phase 3 of the CONMEBOL Liberadores, one step away from the group stages.
It wasn't a fluke either. Palestino set up in a 4-3-1-2 formation with Luis Jiménez as the 'enganche'. In a time where this system and role is considered outdated, Basay swears by it. They combine keeping possession and passing the ball around with a high press. The best teams are the ones who keep hold of possession and react quickest when they lose it. That's what you get with Palestino.
That had already shown that in the first leg. Germán Cano's talent secured them the opening goal in Chile. Back in Colombia, many expected the team to sit back and protect and take advantage on the counter. That wasn't the case. The match played out the same as the first leg. Palestino set up to attack with the ball at their feet and pressing all over the pitch. Nothing to do with sitting back.
"Sometimes a footballer can become too comfortable. Ivo and Ítalo said: ´we're going to run' and we had to. That's what happened to us before. You had to do something and the player didn't want to put in the physical work. In this case, the preseason has been tough. We ran every morning and nobody complained because we respected Ítalo," Agustín Farías explained when talking about the team's change in fortunes. Leadership is crucial.
Palestino will face the winner of Sao Paulo versus Talleres. At present, the Argentines are 2-0 up after the first leg and the return match takes place on Wednesday in Brazil. Basay is preparing his team for an eye-catching clash. A place in Group A is at stake and a chance to take on River Plate, the reigning champions, Internacional and Alianza Lima.