Monday, May 31, 2010

Season and game previews sample


In the links below you will be able to download some game previews and the Clausura 2010 preview (the tournament that ended 2 weeks ago) so you can see what kind of work i'm planning to make available once the new season starts in early August.

Of course, all this was written before the games where played, and the season preview in January. I have over 380 previews written of last season games, if you want to check any past game in particular, please contact me.

Clausura 2010 Preview

Round 17 / Banfield - Huracan

Round 17 / River - Velez

Round 19 / Arsenal - Godoy Cruz


As always, any feedback and comments are welcomed to mncarg@gmail.com

Diego's 23 arrive at South Africa

The long qualifiers, all the suffering to get a place in the World Cup, all the controversy about who was going to be in the list and who was out...all is in the past.
Argentina's 23 arrived at Pretoria on Saturday headed by the best football player that ever lived.











A possible lineup for the debut vs Nigeria ?
Some say it could be this one : Romero; Jonás Gutiérrez, Demichelis, Samuel, Heinze; Verón, Mascherano, Di María; Tevez, Messi, Higuaín.
A clear 4-3-3, very offensive.
Others talk about a more cautious 4-4-2 :
Romero;Nicolás Otamendi, Demichelis, Samuel, Gabriel Heinze; Jonas Gutierrez, Javier Mascherano, Juan Sebastian Veron, Ángel Di María; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín.

Maradona announced today that there won't be any contact with the press until late this week, so not much will be known until then.

This is the complete confirmed list of Argentina's 23 warriors with the confirmed numbers they will use :

1. Diego Pozo (Colon, Argentina)
2. Martín Demichelis (Bayern Munchen, Germany)
3. Clemente Rodríguez (Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina)
4. Nicolás Burdisso (AS Roma, Italy)
5. Mario Bolatti (Palermo, Italy)
6. Gabriel Heinze (Olympique de Marseille, France)
7. Ángel Di María (Benfica, Portugal)
8. Juan Sebastián Verón (Estudiantes de La Plata, Argentina)
9. Gonzalo Higuaín (Real Madrid, Spain)
10. Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain)
11. Carlos Tévez (Manchester City, England)
12. Ariel Garcé (Colon, Argentina)
13. Walter Samuel (Internazionale, Italy)
14. Javier Mascherano (Liverpool, England)
15. Nicolás Otamendi (Velez Sarsfield, Argentina)
16. Sergio Agüero (Atletico de Madrid, Spain)
17. Jonás Gutiérrez (Newcastle, England)
18. Martín Palermo (Boca Juniors, Argentina)
19. Diego Milito (Internazionale, Italy)
20. Maxi Rodríguez (Liverpool, England)
21. Mariano Andújar (Catania, Italy)
22. Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar, Holland)
23. Javier Pastore (Palermo, Italy)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Big clubs change coaches


While all teams just started their vacations, and players won't return until mid/late June, 3 of the big 5 teams have changed coaches hoping to have a better season.

The first team to hire a new trainer was Boca. Coming from one of their worst seasons ever, they didn't lose one minute after the season ended and went for Claudio Borghi, the coach of the last champion, Argentinos Juniors.
Borghi, a 1986 World Champion with the Argentina NT lead by Diego Maradona, had succesful seasons in Chile coaching Colo Colo and before leading Argentinos Juniors to their first championship in 25 years, had a poor season with Independiente in his first job as the coach of an Argentinean team.

Independiente surprisingly didn't renew Americo Gallego's contract, although the team ended in the 4th place in Clausura and qualified to Copa Sudamericana.
Gallego, who had been previously champion with Independiente in 2002, Newell's in 2004 and also won a couple of championships with River in the 90's, is very much appreciated by fans, so nobody expected him leaving the club.
His replacement will be Daniel Garnero, a young coach with little experience in 1st division (only coached Arsenal two seasons ago). Garnero started his career as a player in Independiente, where he played more than 200 games and won a championship in 1994.

The last of the big clubs to hire a new coach is San Lorenzo, who signed back Ramon Diaz, a famous ex River, Fiorentina and Inter player with almost 20 years experience as a coach.
Diaz won many championships as a coach with River in the 90's and also won Copa Libertadores in 1996. He returns to San Lorenzo after 2 years, when he succesfully coached the team to win Clausura 2007, and later reached quarterfinals in Copa Libertadores 2008.

Arsenal, the smallest club in 1st division, will also have a new coach, Gustavo Alfaro, who returns to Arsenal where he won Copa Sudamericana 2007.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A little background on the league

While football in Argentina has existed since the early years of the 20th century, when most of the current clubs were established, professionalism didn't start until 1931.
Unlike most Europeans league who took a break or were transformed during and after World War II, the Argentinean league has been played continuously and almost all clubs that existed during the early 30's, are still playing in 1st or lower divisions.

When professionalism was established, the 5 clubs with most championships won in the amateur era and higher attendances had the most important vote on decisions, and so they were called "The Big 5", something that still exists to this day.
This teams are : River Plate, Boca Juniors, Independiente, San Lorenzo and Racing, and all games played between themselves are considered important derbies, usually played with stadiums full of fans.

In this group, the biggest rivalries are the "Super Derby" River-Boca, and Independiente-Racing, who have their big stadiums for 40-50k fans each, separated by only 2 blocks (click here to see a google earth picture).
San Lorenzo's biggest rivalry is with another team from the capital city, Huracan, who was established in a close neighborhood, but only won 1 championship (1973) and has spent many of the last 25 years in 2nd division.

While River, Boca and San Lorenzo are from Buenos Aires, Racing and Independiente are just outside the city, in the metropolitan area, so they are considered Buenos Aires's teams as well.

This Buenos Aires teams domination has been a constant in the league, and it will continue in the 2010-2011 season, when only 4 teams will be from outside Buenos Aires and it's metropolitan area : Newell's from Rosario (306 km from Buenos Aires), Olimpo from Bahia Blanca (they are in the Buenos Aires province but 687 km from the capital city), Godoy Cruz from Mendoza (1042 km from Buenos Aires), and Colon from Santa Fe (478 km from Buenos Aires).

Since 1931 to 1967 when Estudiantes de La Plata won the league, all championships were won by the "Big 5". Since then this teams continued their domination, but Velez, Estudiantes, Argentinos Juniors, Newell's and Rosario Central among others, have won a good share of the championships.

The current situation in the league shows a parity that is difficult to find in any other league of the world : the last 8 championships have been won by 8 different teams, including Lanus and Banfield who won their first tournament ever, and Argentinos Juniors, the current champion, who won the trophy for the first time in 25 years.

The ranking of championships won is lead by River with 33, followed by rival Boca with 23, Independiente 14, San Lorenzo 10, Racing 7 (won only 1 in the last 42 years), Velez also with 7 (won 6 of those in the last 17 years) and there are also 10 other teams that were champions at least once.

River, Boca and Independiente were never relegated and played every season in 1st division, while San Lorenzo and Racing were relegated only once with San Lorenzo returning the following year (1981) and Racing playing 2 seasons in 2nd division (1983-1985).

I would like to have feedback on what other topics could be interesting to write about.
Please, leave a comment or mail me at mncarg@gmail.com

How do teams qualify to Copa Libertadores/Sudamericana ?

Another topic that is usually asked is how do teams qualify for the international competitions.

Unlike Europe, in South America international cups (Libertadores and Sudamericana) are not played at the same time, so teams can qualify to both competitions without a problem.

Copa Libertadores runs from January/February to June while Copa Sudamericana starts in August and ends in December. Because of this year's tight schedule, Copa Libertadores will play semifinals and finals in July, after the World Cup but all teams from Argentina were already eliminated.

How do Argentinean teams qualify ?

For Copa Libertadores, 5 Argentinean teams qualify : 2 champions + 3 other teams.

For the 2011 edition, both 2010 champions qualify.

The other 3 spots are decided adding this 2 tournaments (Clausura 2010 and Apertura 2010), and the top 3 teams (not included the 2 champions) qualify.

Argentinos Juniors, recent winner of Clausura 2010 is the only team that has already qualified, and when Apertura ends in December, 4 other teams will join them.


For Copa Sudamericana the season table (Apertura 2009 + Clausura 2010) is used, and the top 6 teams qualify.

For the 2010 Copa Sudamericana that will start in early August, the qualified teams are Banfield, Argentinos Juniors, Estudiantes, Newell's, Independiente and Velez (qualified in that order by the 2009/2010 season table).

In the 1st round of the competition, Argentinean teams play between themselves : Banfield vs Velez, Argentinos Juniors vs Independiente and Estudiantes vs Newell's.


If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

How are relegations decided ?

After each Clausura tournament (May/June, end of the season), there are 2 relegated and 2 promotion teams.

In Argentina relegations are decided using a special table called ”Averages” where the 20 teams are ordered by their last 3 seasons (Apertura + Clausura) points added, divided by the number of games played.

This system has been in use for 25 years, and has been always very criticized because it favours bigger teams (they can have one or two bad tournaments, but they will rarely have more than 3 or 4 tournaments with numbers bad enough to end in the lower spots of this table) and makes it more difficult for teams recently promoted.
These teams need to have an above average season (45-50 points adding Apertura + Clausura) to stay in 1st division because their average is calculated with less games and so it’s difficult for them to keep a good average.

The 19th and 20th teams in this table are relegated to 2nd division, and the 17th and 18th teams play a promotion playoff against a 2nd division team each (home and away games, if they have the same points and goal difference after this two games, the 1st division team stays).

This is how the Averages Table will start for the 2010/2011 season (click on the image to see it bigger).

As you can see, Olimpo, Quilmes and All Boys start from 0 (zero) because they are the newly promoted teams (All Boys did it through one of the promotion playoffs), and for the first time ever, one of the big clubs of Argentina, River Plate, starts in a very dangerous situation.


How is the league system ?

One of the main questions i see asked in forums is how is the league system, what is Apertura and Clausura, how are relegations decided, how do teams qualify to Copa Libertadores/Sudamericana, so i decided it could be interesting to start the blog writing about it.

In Argentina there are two tournaments per season : Apertura (played from August to December) and Clausura (February to June), so, there are two champions per season. No final game between them, just two champions.

Each tournament has 19 rounds where the 20 teams play each other once and the team at the top of the standings at the end, is the champion.
The fixture of each season is drawn before Apertura, and Clausura uses the same schedule with reversed home teams.
If two teams have the same points in the 1st place after the 19 games, they play a game in neutral field to decide who will be the champion. If 3 or more teams are tied, then a mini tournament is played between this teams, where each team plays against the others once, all games in neutral field. The team with more points (or better goal difference in this mini tournament games if they tie in points), is the champion.
Since the Apertura/Clausura system was introduced in the 1990/1991 season, only twice the tournament ended with more than one team at the top (Apertura 2006 : Boca and Estudiantes, and Apertura 2008 : Boca, San Lorenzo and Tigre).

Next subject, one of the most difficult things to understand for people not involved in this league : how are relegations decided ?

Welcome !

Gonzalo Higuain, Gabriel Milito, Fernando Gago, Carlos Tevez, Diego Milito, Walter Samuel, Javier Zanetti, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Burdisso, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore, Esteban Cambiasso, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Lisandro Lopez, Cesar Delgago, Javier Saviola, Gabriel Heinze, Pablo Aimar, Javier Mascherano, Hernan Crespo, Mauro Camoranesi and many, many others...

Legends like Gabriel Batistuta, Claudio Cannigia, Mario Kempes, Jorge Valdano, Alfredo Di Stefano, Diego Maradona...

...all have something in commonn : they started in the same league.

This blog is an attempt to provide something that it's almost impossible to find : information in english on one of the most exciting (and probably unknown for most people) leagues in the world.

I've been working for 3 years as a tipster on my league for different private punters and betting groups, and i thought it could be interesting to start my own website as well.

Please, don't hesitate on contacting me at mncarg@gmail.com
Any questions, comments or suggestions are welcomed.

Welcome, and i hope you enjoy it.