It is a bizarre and almost
unbelievable scenario but Tigre face the prospect of both
winning a first Argentine league championship on Sunday and yet
being forced into a play-off to avoid relegation.
The astonishing situation for the small club from the Buenos
Aires suburb of Victoria is due to the country's relegation
averages introduced 29 years ago.
As it stands, victory for Tigre in their final match at home
to Independiente and an Arsenal defeat by Belgrano would earn
them the Clausura title with 38 points.
But if both teams draw and Boca Juniors win at All Boys, a
three-way play-off for the title will follow, as goal difference
is not taken into account.
Of more pressing concern to Tigre, however, is their
position in the relegation standings - a separate table decided
on clubs' average points over three seasons.
At the centre of the problem lies a poor 2009/10 campaign
where the club collected a measly 32 points over the two
Ahead of their final game, Tigre sit one place above the
The wrong result this weekend could push them into one of
the two promotion-relegation play-off berths against a team from
the second-tier Primera B Nacional.
The threat has been with them all year but as one of the
more consistent teams they have fought their way out of the
bottom four in the relegation standings. The bottom two are
The possibility of a meeting with relegated giants River
Plate in a playoff if the joint second division leaders do not
win automatic promotion back to the top flight in their final
match of the Primera B Nacional championship on Saturday, could become a reality.
Tigre coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena made it clear earlier in
the week when he said he would "sign for survival over the
championship" while striker Carlos Luna, the championship's top
scorer with 11 goals, echoed that sentiment on Thursday.
"Our main objective was to get to this match with chances
of staying in the first division," Luna told reporters.
"So we've got to think only about that, getting the three
points against Independiente.
"It's true we set out [at the beginning] to win a lot of
points to stay in the first division, but we didn't imagine we'd
be top with possibilities of achieving the championship."
Boca Juniors, who have occupied the top spot in the league
for most of the year, had their title chances dented in a shock
3-0 home defeat by Arsenal last Sunday and must win at All Boys
to stand any chance of retaining it.
This task may have been made easier by the fact that All
Boys have four players suspended after they were sent off in
Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Argentinos Juniors and could also lose
goalkeeper and captain Nicolas Cambiasso, brother of Inter Milan
midfielder Esteban, to a ban after he allegedly insulted the
referee after the match.
If Tigre do win the title but are relegated, while they will
be first division champions playing in the Primera B Nacional,
they will be denied entry to the Libertadores Cup, South
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