Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
Far, far away from River Plate, Boca Juniors, Diego Maradona and Leo Messi, there are other teams, other legends, and other players in Argentina.
This little known fact is often ignored by those in the know, making it difficult for those not in the know to find out. Argentine football’s national and international audience tends treat these other supporting-role characters much like The Others in Lost.
Not so on this blog - well, not always...
There are two glorious idiosyncrasies of Argentina football which prove how The Others can have their day. It doesn’t matter if most coverage of remarkable achievements is given a patronising 15-minute pat on the head, well done and now-go-back-to-where-you-came-from-and-let-the-adults-get-on-with-things. The point is they can have their day.
First up is the law of averages. The extent to which everybody prefers to talk about River or Boca, or even The Big Five, is irrelevant. It all averages out. The three-year league table – the one that decides who goes down - also serves us up with a clear idea of who the best team over the past three years has been.
Boca? River? Please. Racing, Independiente, San Lorenzo? Come on. Estudiantes? Vélez? Close, but no. Step forward Lanús.
Back in 2007, Lanús won the Apertura – the first league title in the club’s history. Banfield’s local rival may struggle to bring in crowds in excess of 20,000, but are one of the best-organised clubs in the country.
They don’t sack coaches every three months, they have a productive youth system and then sell well. Since the 2007 title triumph, the club may not have won any silverware but it has been the most consistent side in the country, putting them top of the three-year table.
As well as three-year averages, there is another particularity to the Argentine league. There’s no Big Four, or Barcelona-Real Madrid-Hércules title race here. The last eight championships have produced eight different title-winners.
Current champions Argentinos Juniors are not having the best time of it this term, but they were pushed right to the final whistle by Godoy Cruz of Mendoza en route to their title win.
It is difficult to overstate the scale of Godoy Cruz’ achievement. The club only made it into top flight in 2005. Consolidating a place in the first division is difficult – all three of the sides promoted this season are all in the relegation-bound bottom-four. Although they went down again, the club bounced back up immediately.
At the beginning of last season, the side was battling against relegation, once again, and risked their fate by appointing a debutant coach – Omar Asad. Despite only having coached youth teams at Vélez, despite the pressure and despite the limited transfer budget, Asad took the team to third.
And so, last season’s success story took on the three-year champions this weekend.
Lanús hit the woodwork twice with the game at 1-1, but the Tomba proceeded to brush past their hosts. David Ramírez had hit the first, taking his season tally to four and putting him alongside Vélez’ Santiago Silva, Boca’s Lucas Viatri and River’s Gabriel Funes Mori as the league’s top scorer.
Former Colombian international Jairo Castillo added the third after a rocket from Ariel Rojas, Diego Villar added the final flourish with ten minutes to go, making the final score 4-1.
The win put Godoy Cruz within two points of the top of the table – if they maintain this form and challenge for honours once again it will be an extraordinary achievement. Lanús, meanwhile, will no doubt pick themselves up from this blip – their first defeat of the season. Just don’t expect to hear too much about either side.
Matchday 6 ResultsTigre 2-0 GimnasiaColón 1-1 All BoysHuracán 2-2 BanfieldSan Lorenzo 0-0 VélezLanús 1-4 Godoy GruzEstudiantes 2-0 RacingArgentinos 1-2 Newell’sRiver 1-0 ArsenalIndependiente 0-0 QuilmesOlimpo 1-3 Boca
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Dear Bargy. I hope you don't mind me complementing your super articles on Argentinian Football with this little podcast on, yes, south american football! This week we tackle Colombian Derby Weekend, plus reviews from Argentina's Apertura and Brazil's Serie A.
Keep the good articles coming up!
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