This week we look at one of the most passionate and exciting leagues in world football, the Primera División in Argentina. Explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the post.
After Estudiantes de la Plata won the apertura season it’s time to see if they can become only the second team in ten years to win back-to-back championships – the last time that happened was in 2005/06 when Boca triumphed in the aperture and clausura seasons. In fact, there have been eight different winners in the last eight seasons, so there are no foregone conclusions in the Primera Division of Argentina.
So, let’s take a look at some of the teams that are in with a shout and those that will do well to avoid the drop.
The Copa Libertadores
First, teams that are in South America’s top club competition often have a lot on their plate and their league form can suffer. Godoy Cruz, Argentinos Juniors, Independiente, Estudiantes de la Plata and Vélez Sársfield all represent Argentina and probably only the last two, Estudiantes and Vélez have the strength in depth to cope with fighting on both fronts. Godoy and Juniors especially can be expected to focus all their resources on a good cup run.
So, joining Estudiantes and Vélez as contenders should be two big teams from Buenos Aires, Boca Juniors and River Plate. These last two of course are also huge domestic rivals. Boca will hope that, while Riquelme and Martín Palermo are getting long in the tooth, new coach Falcioni can inspire them to their 24th title. River Plate on the other hand have Erik Lamela, a young player of great potential, and a settled side, to hang their hopes on.
Two clubs spring to mind when you think of dark horses this clausura season – Racing Club from the south of Buenos Aires, and San Lorenzo, at the beginning of the last century one of the top Argentine sides. San Lorenzo have a good coach in Ramón Diáz, who is building a side that could surprise people. Racing have won one title in the last 40 years, but they could be there or thereabouts this season.
It’s going to be tough for newly promoted side Quilmes despite finishing quite strongly in the aperture season. Huracán have signed striker Javier Campora to help them stay up, but he has a mountain to climb. And finally Gimnasia de la Plata will surely be favorites to go down.
Let’s see who makes a strong start this weekend.
back-to-back: one after the other, two in a row, two on the trot
foregone conclusion: an obvious result, something that is clear from the start
in with a shout: have a chance, be considered a possible winner
have a lot on (your) plate: have many things to do, be very busy, have too much to do
long in the tooth: old, venerable
there or thereabouts: at or near the top of the league, on target or close
a mountain to climb: a very difficult job to do, an almost impossible task