Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
Paternity is a big issue in Argentina, and it is not just to do with a dispute over the true identity of the children adopted by the nation’s largest media group owners.
No, sticking to football, it is to do with who’s won the most clásicos, who's won the most trophies... when it comes down to it, who’s the daddy.
The obsession started early in the last century, when Argentina and Uruguay battled it out for regional hegemony in the world’s most-played derby.
Uruguay not only won the local rivalry, but also translated their success onto the world stage, winning the first World Cup on their home soil - by beating Argentina 4-2 in the final.
Since then, the ‘son’ and ‘father’ role has been, excuse the pun, adopted by club supporters and is an integral part of banter and abuse between sets of supporters.
When it came to bragging rights during the last decade, however, there's no room for debate.
The noughties belonged to Boca.
OK, 2009 was their annus horribilis with boardroom in-fighting, poor results, a burgeoning debt and an escalating hooligan problem, but the previous nine years were simply stunning.
The arrival of Carlos Bianchi as coach signalled a golden era in the club’s history.
Five league titles, four Libertadores, two Sudamericanas, three South American supercups and, to crown the achievement, beating Real Madrid and AC Milan to claim two Intercontinental Cups.
In a single decade, they bagged 16 trophies.
That number is slightly inflated given that there are two domestic league champions a year, doubling the odds, but not even the most bitter red-striped city rivals could belittle Boca’s achievements in the 2000s.
At the turn of the century, then, the question is who, if anybody, will dominate the 2010s?
Of the five grandes, none are in good shape.
Given that not one of River, Boca, San Lorenzo, Independiente or Racing qualified for the Libertadores, they're not even amongst the best five in Argentina, let alone South America.
Despite winning the Clausura 09, and winning universal praise for being a ‘serious’ club, Vélez failed to launch a ‘serious’ challenge for this year’s Sudamericana.
That doesn’t bode well for the alleged sixth grande's chances of becoming the dominant force in the coming years.
And although Estudiantes came within two minutes of beating Barcelona and claiming the Club World Cup, they still rely on Juan Sebastián Verón, recently crowned South American Player of the Year for the second year running.
At the age of 34, Verón is not a player the Pincha can depend on to dictate the game for many more years. (And that's assuming he remains in the face of interest from Manchester City - Ed.)
For any other club – Lanús or Newell’s, for example – to take over, they would have to reverse major structural problems.
Lanús lose money on nearly 90 percent of their home games, while Newell’s accounts are still a mess after the reign of the previous president.
In the last 10 championships, seven different clubs have won the title, which points to the Argentine league being one of the most competitive and unpredictable leagues around.
Debt, short-termism, rich-pickings for agents, impatient fans, internal club politics and questionable refereeing standards all add up to make it a level playing ground for clubs - but at the same time all the more difficult to maintain success, let alone be Daddy of the Decade.
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