After what felt like an ever-lasting saga of back and forth between Dani Alves and Pumas, the Brazilian finally signed and played his first game for the Mexican club on Wednesday night.
The deal to bring the 39-year-old to Liga MX was sealed last week and Alves was presented to fans last Saturday, but due to fitness concerns, the carioca was ruled out of Pumas' match against Pachuca on July 24 that resulted in a goalless draw.
Dani Alves Pumas Debut Vs. Mazatlán
The legendary right-back made his debut against Mazatlán on Wednesday as a starter at right wing!
Andrés Lillini decided to place the Brazilian higher up the pitch in hopes of using the ex-Barcelona star's high soccer IQ in his side's favor and closer to the opposing goal.
To our surprise, the strategy worked. Immediately.
It wasn’t even the first minute of the game when a classic lay-off by Alves projected a Pumas attack that ended with Juan Ignacio Dinenno shooting the ball wide.
We also got Alves’ first bit of jogo bonito in Liga MX:
Minutes later, a foul won by the Brazilian served as his first scoring opportunity. A 35-yard free kick was enough for Alves to consider shooting at goal, and the attempt wasn’t too far off.
His game was solid — participating in the last third, sending players towards goal and very often shifting to the center of the pitch to organize the midfield. Perhaps if he was another player (or if it wasn’t his debut), the Brazilian would've been substituted in the second half considering it was his first game in almost two months.
However, there are reasons a player the caliber of Alves stays on the pitch, and the last minute of the game showed us that. A perfectly taken corner by Dani Alves set up Nicólas Freire to tie it.
90th minute, at home, with a full stadium and on his debut. The scenes were electric at Ciudad Universitaria.
It'll be interesting to see where Alves is placed by Lillini throughout the season and how he performs when his fitness is sharp. Regardless, the Brazilian is capable of playing practically every position on the pitch.
So go at it, Lillini.