A summer Saturday night. While half of Lima flees to the southern beaches to enjoy its second Sunday of 2023, the other half put on the cream shirt, ate the terrible traffic on Av. Javier Prado and arrived at the temple for the first merengue communion. This Saturday, with a packed Monumental, the Cream Night 2023 was held, for many the best presentation in the history of Universitario de Deportes.
The great avenue Javier Prado This is a festival of ‘U’ shirts. The little boy who received as a Christmas gift the new style v-neck shirt that reminds us precisely of the jacket his father wears, that iconic Calvo brand cream, which marked the wonderful years of the team in the nineties. Both hand in hand walking towards one of the stands to compete and be happy.
But there are also the lovers who decided that their appointment this Saturday was going to be in the place where the most people gathered in Lima. There are no chairs or tables, no waiters or some romantic decoration with some ballad in the background. In fact, the only green area within a hundred meters is the playing field where all those athletes who represent the most winning institution in Peru parade.
It is the Cream Night, the day in which the fan renews his vows and promises to return all the dates. The day in which the illusion revives and the fan gives himself body and soul in each song. “Come on, creams, let’s go, we won’t stop / this year until we see you win,” the stadium rumbles.
The pre-game show was amazing. The presentation of the players of the futsal down, futsal and women’s first team; the tributes to idols such as Eduardo Rey Muñoz, Héctor Chumpitaz, José Luis Carranza and the memory of Lolo Fernández, the greatest idol of the institution.
That there are children in the stands listening attentively to Chumpitaz’s words, or others asking their parents to take a picture with the ‘Puma’, shows that the ‘U’ is more than a football team, it is general culture. And the little ones are on the right path.
The drone show was the plus of an unforgettable night. Something never seen before in Peruvian soccer. A technological game that surprised fans who had previously enjoyed the cumbia of the Yaipén Brothers and the Argentine rock of the Tse-Tse Fly. Luxury artists for a spectacular event.
Piero, the night is yours
The moment of truth arrived with the presentation of each one of the footballers. One by one they began to pass before the ovation of the fans. Piero Quispe broke the applause meter with his entry. He is 21 years old, it is his third season, but he has already put the fans in his pocket. He is the jewel of the ‘U’ and for that they love him.
Horacio Calcaterra, with the ’10’ on his back, was also applauded. On the other hand, Emanuel Herrera, with a past in Cristal and Melgar, took some blunders. The ‘9’ will have to win over the fans with goals, there is no other way.
The ‘U’ of Compagnucci is no longer that team without variants. There are 13 new faces and they all add up. The Argentine arrived in mid-2022 and was entrusted with the project to end the title drought (since 2013), which is why the pressure is perceived from the first minute. It doesn’t matter if it’s a friendly, for the ‘U’ they are all finals.
The rival, Aucas, current Ecuadorian champion, felt it from the beginning. The creams pressed, they did not let play and with the ball in possession they showed the idea that Compagnucci is looking for: be patient to build. Andy Polo, with preseason, is a locomotive by his side, and Quispe, with Calcaterra and Murrugarra, was finally in good company to play his game.
The defense of the ‘U’ is almost new. Only left back Nelson Cabanillas remains. Hugo Ancajima (right back) and the central defenders Marco Saravia and Di Benedetto arrived this season. But it seems that they have been together for several years. They understand each other almost perfectly. In fact, goalkeeper José Carvallo had almost no work and the fans in the stands showed his calm. Teams are assembled from back to front, experts say.
The lack of lucidity in attack is the pending task. The fan was left wanting to tear his throat screaming a goal. And the players on the field could not hide their helplessness. Not only Horacio Calcaterra, who was sent off for a double yellow card, but also Luis Urruti, who couldn’t finish well on several plays.
The pressure for the years without titles is there, but Compagnucci’s ‘U’, with new dressing room leaders, seems to have a different face. In a club that wants to be champion every year, there is no other idea than to see themselves celebrating in December. The road is long, but the illusion proved to be intact yesterday.
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a keen interest in sports and have written for many different publications. I am currently working as an author at 24 News Recorder. I cover mostly sports news but also write about other topics such as current affairs and politics. I have a strong interest in social media and how it can be used to engage with audiences.