Club forced to play two matches in six hours, win both games
As they continue to fight on multiple fronts at the business end of the European season, we will likely hear Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp or Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola complaining about the fixtures piling up. If they do, spare a thought for Deportivo Lara coach Leonardo Gonzalez.
The Venezuelan club he leads played two official games less than six hours apart on Wednesday -- including one in the Copa Libertadores -- and he was still able to win both encounters. Not even a blackout during the game at their home ground could stop them sealing a unique set of back-to-back victories.
The Rojinegro had asked for their domestic league game at Llaneros de Guarane on April 3 to be postponed, only for the country's football federation to turn down the request.
Deportivo Lara won 3-2 at Llaneros, a game that kicked off at 3 p.m. local time, before making the more than two-hour journey home to host Argentine side Huracan in the Copa Liberadores group stage, a game that started at 8:30 p.m. local time. Deportivo Lara beat Huracan 2-1 for their first continental win of the year.
The feat was an all-around squad effort, with the club using two different teams for the two games. An XI made up of fringe players turned out in the first encounter of the day before the first-teamers took on Huracan in the evening. Coach Gonzalez was on the sideline for both encounters.
The game against Huracan was played behind closed doors, with Deportivo Lara serving a stadium ban imposed by CONMEBOL.
It didn't go all as planned for the home side, as the Estadio Metropolitano suffered a blackout due to a brief power cut before the hosts were reduced to 10 men, but they managed to hold out for a second win of the day.
But even Deportivo Lara can consider themselves lucky: another Venezuelan team, Zamora, also had to play two games on Wednesday. The first was a 4-0 league defeat at Deportivo La Guaira, before suffering a 3-2 loss in the Copa Libertadores fixture at Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro -- over 4,00 miles away.
So if you hear Klopp or Guardiola use a packed schedule as an excuse between now and the end of the season, take those complaints with a pinch of salt -- it could be a whole lot worse.