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Inicial 2012 has a champion, it's Velez and it was absolutely deserved.
I have to admit that when the season started I expected them to be in a transition semester, rebuilding a squad that had lost some important players and they had a slow start but except for a few missteps (defeats at home vs Colon, Lanus, Boca) they were the only team that was regular during the whole semester. Newell's started great and slowed down in the end, Lanus had a slow start and their late run wasn't enough, Belgrano had a historic semester for them but also wasn't enough.
Velez wins their 9th tournament in the Argentinean professional league (it started in 1931, it was amateur before that), and 8 of them where "short" 19 rounds tournaments in the last 2 decades.
A fair price for one of the few clubs in Argentina that has their finances in order, doesn't waste money in useless players and is always giving a chance to their young ones.
Not much to analyze about the game vs Union, they started nervous but it was obvious that it was only a matter of time until they scored one and it was no one else than Facundo "Chucky" Ferreyra, the young promising striker that 6 months ago was suffering a relegation with Banfield and now is the top scorer of the league with 11 goals in 14 games (tied with Newell's Ignacio Scocco).
Lanus failed again when they were in a must win situation despite playing better than the hosts during most of a game where not much happened.
They must have learned somehow that Velez had scored and this probably affected them in the 2nd half because it was around that time when Lanus slowed down and River started to play better.
River didn't play well at all and a draw would have been the most fair score for sure, but they got the 3 points and they celebrated coach Ramon Diaz' arrival (he was watching from a box and will debut next week).
HUUUGE win for San Lorenzo, I'm still jumping around of happiness :)
Very early goal thanks to a beautiful free kick for Independiente, but San Lorenzo was able to stay calmed, get an equalizer and finish the 1st half closer to the 2nd goal, which came early in the 2nd half but a surprising and great long shot by Alan Ruiz.
San Lorenzo let Independiente manage the ball but the guests were once again harmless and the only thing they did was throw useless long balls that made things easier for the hosts.
San Lorenzo is now 11 points above Independiente (they have one pending game vs Tigre) and will have a very calmed summer for the first time in a few years because they also got closer in the Averages table to a group of teams (Godoy Cruz, Argentinos Juniors, Tigre) that could be in trouble soon.
I have no idea who will win Final 2013, the new tournament that will start in early February, but I know that the fight to avoid the 3 relegation spots will be once again amazing because we have a big group of teams struggling in the last rounds and that can't keep falling in the Averages table.
While San Lorenzo won 13 of the last 15 points in play in the last 5 rounds, Newell's got 6, Argentinos Jrs 5, Atletico Rafaela and Tigre 4, San Martin 3 and Quilmes, Union, Godoy Cruz and Independiente 2.
The list of 5 teams that will play Copa Libertadores 2013 is also set: Arsenal, Velez, Boca, Newell's and Tigre.
Round 18 results:
Godoy Cruz 0 - Quilmes 0
Colón 3 - Argentinos Juniors 1
Racing 3 - All Boys 1
Vélez 2 -Unión 0
River Plate 1 - Lanús 0
Belgrano 1 - Tigre 0
San Lorenzo 2 - Independiente 1
Arsenal 1 - Boca Juniors 0
Newell's Old Boys 3 - Atlético de Rafaela 0
Estudiantes 2 - San Martín 0
The last round of Inicial 2012 will start next Friday and will have 9 games because Quilmes - Tigre will be postponed due to the guests commitments in the Copa Sudamericana finals.
No big matches or derbies, probably the highlight of the weekend will be Martin Palermo visiting Boca as a coach with his team Godoy Cruz, in a game where his friend 39 years old defender and Boca legend Rolando Schiavi (who would join him as an assistant coach soon) will be playing the last game of his career.
Friday December 7
19.15-- All Boys-Arsenal
21.30-- Unión de Santa Fe-Racing Club
Saturday December 8
17.00-- Belgrano de Córdoba-Estudiante de la Plata
17.00-- Boca Juniors-Godoy Cruz
19.15-- Argentinos Juniors-Newell's Old Boys
19.15-- Atlético de Rafaela-Vélez Sarsfield
21.30-- Independiente-Colón de Santa Fe
Sunday December 9
17.00-- San Martín de San Juan-River Plate
17.00-- Lanús-San Lorenzo