You can’t be champion of Argentina unless you celebrate in your underpants.
…of Argentina, natch. Lowly Arsenal de Sarandí clinched their first national title ever yesterday with a win over Belgrano and a little help from neighbors Independiente, who held Tigre to a draw. Tigre didn’t mind losing out on the silverware, however, because the point was enough to help them avoid a relegation playoff. Boca Juniors faded at the finish, getting spanked 3-1 by All Boys because they sent a bunch of reserves out to play. The starters are being rested for Wednesday’s Copa Libertadores final versus Corinthians.
Olimpo and Banfield (who won a title as recently as ’09) were relegated directly, while San Lorenzo and San Martin will go into the relegation playoffs against Instituto and Rosario Central, respectively. Meanwhile, River Plate and Quilmes were promoted. That’s right folks, River is back!
A hearty congratulations to El Arse on their first title! This concludes my coverage of Tango Ball. I’m planning to still bring you, my faithful reader, some kind of news from South America in the fall, but likely in a different format.
Ugliest trophy ever? Probably.
EPL fans around here are still buzzing about the season’s exciting finish that saw Man City clinch the title in injury time of the final game. EPL fans, Tango Ball sees your exciting conclusion between two derby rivals and raises you a wide open final weekend where three different clubs could emerge with the Clausura title. If you haven’t paid any attention to the Argie league so far, NOW would be the time to do so.
Looking Back: For starters, let me say that the Argentine league does come down to the wire more frequently than the longer traditional European leagues, but generally there’s a frontrunner who has it all sewn up with a week to spare. In last year’s Apertura, it was Boca who won the title with nearly a month to go. This time around, Boca needed a win over Arsenal de Sarandí to control their destiny in the final week. But just as I’d hoped, Arsenal delivered the massive upset, besting Boca 3-0 to blow the title race wide open. Tigre also obliged with a 1-0 win over Vélez in which Carlos “Chino” Luna netted his 11th goal of the season. These results leave Boca two points behind Tigre and Arsenal. More on that in a minute. Continue reading
Gaby Milito: legend.
Humor me for a moment, will you? I know everyone here is still guzzling the Euro 2012 koolaid, but I feel an obligation to keep you informed about other ongoing soccer tournaments. Perhaps you’re starting to burn out on the Euros and need a break from the racist chants, flares, and unspellable names. Um, well, Tango Ball still has racist chants and flares, but most of the names are reasonably spellable.
Besides, this thing is almost over, and I’m itching to be done with it. Let’s get to the action.
Looking Back: Despite a flavorless draw with Banfield, Boca has a stranglehold on this tournament. They’ve got a one point lead with six points up for grabs. But the big win from last weekend goes to Tigre, who defeated San Lorenzo 3-1. Tigre is now in 2nd place, currently out of the relegation zone, and they’ve practically doomed San Lorenzo to play the Promoción relegation playoffs. Well done, Tigre.
Your golden boot frontrunner is still Carlos “Chino” Luna, with ten. I think he’s got this contest all sewn up. Continue reading
Caruso would be a great fit for Liverpool.
So league football is finished anywhere in Europe that matters, and all we’ve got left is the Champions League final tomorrow and the Copa del Rey final next week. Then it’s summer internationals of varying importance and interest. But wait! You could still be watching exciting league football on a weekly basis, and I’m not talking about MLS! There’s five weeks left in Argentina’s Clausura, and nothing is settled yet. Let’s get right to the action. Continue reading
Balsas: lucky to be alive right now.
While most European leagues are winding down right now, Argentina’s Clausura still has seven weeks of action left! Even better, everything is very much up for grabs. There’s only a six point gap between first place and seventh place. Keep this in mind in a couple weeks when your favorite Euro clubs head to the beach for the summer and you’ve got nothing left to watch (except MLS).
Looking Back: So Boca is still on top thanks to a tight 1-0 win over Colón. But they’ve only got a 1 point lead on Vélez, who defeated Estudiantes (just as I predicted). Newell’s is just a point behind them after drawing with fifth place All Boys in the battle of the Boys. Fourth place Tigre drew with Belgrano, and they’re still in very hot relegation water. My beloved Independiente beat Banfield to move into the top half of the table for the first time this year. Woo hoo! Continue reading
Boselli (right) had a disastrous time in Europe.
Oh, Tango Ball. Sometimes you underwhelm in the worst way. Like last week. There were five draws out of the ten scheduled matches, and only two matches featured more than 2 goals. Also, the teams that had been shaping up to be contenders have nearly all dropped points. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.
Looking Back: After Boca drew 1-1 with Belgrano on Sunday, Newell’s had a golden opportunity to snatch the table lead away from them in the Monday night “Arse v. NOB” game. They didn’t. Another 1-1 draw. Only Tigre managed a win over Olimpo to reach 3rd place, one point behind Boca and Newell’s. All Boys beat Union to move into 4th place, while Vélez and Estudiantes drew and lost, respectively, to fall behind. Continue reading
Imagine a paintball gun in his right hand. I suck at Photoshop.
I know my handful of page-viewers (readers is too lofty a moniker for you lot) isn’t actually following this league, and I gotta tell ya: you’re missing out. Now, I know it’s not exactly easy to follow the Argie league in the US of A what with so many Euro matches crowding the soccer channel listings. Besides, all the best Argentines play in Europe, right? Touché.
Howevah, regardless of the fact that you need a special subscription to Fox Deportes or whatever to watch the Clausura (confession: I don’t get any soccer channels), it’s actually probably the easiest league in the world to find illegitimate, high quality streams online. The TV rights belong to the Argentine government, and they’re so busy swindling the people while distracting them with populist propaganda that they don’t have time or money to hunt down streams and cut them off. So put this crap on your laptop while you watch more important things on your regular TV. Continue reading
San Lorenzo's stadium gets a new emergency exit.
Well, Boca Juniors is still on top this week, so that sucks if you’re not a Boca fan. The surprise of the week was Arsenal de Sarandí finishing in second place with a win over table footers Olimpo. It’s not surprising that Arsenal beat the weakest team in the league. It is surprising that other teams like Newell’s and Vélez faltered to allow El Arse to grab second.
A bit on Arsenal de Sarandí: the club was founded in 1957 by brothers Julio and Héctor Grondona in the neighborhood of Avellaneda, which already had two popular clubs: Racing and Independiente. In fact, the club takes its team colors (red and light blue) from those two clubs. The Grondona brothers went on to bigger things: you know Julio as “The Godfather”, the untouchable President for life of AFA and FIFA VP; Héctor served briefly as president of Independiente and passed away earlier this week. Arsenal has been in Primera since 2004 and managed to win the Copa Sudamericana in 2007 and the Suruga Bank Cup in 2008, massive achievements for such a small club. They’ve never won a league title.
"Tata" lets one rip while "Coco" begs for mercy.
We’re almost halfway through the Clausura season now, and the surprise this week is Newell’s Old Boys sitting in the runner-up slot. Recently-appointed manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino (who you might remember from Paraguay’s South Africa 2010 showing) has turned the team around fairly quickly.
Most weeks in this space I’ve been bringing you a brief overview of one of the lesser-known clubs from Argentina. So let’s talk NOB. Newell’s isn’t really a lesser-known club, as they have a long and proud history. Also, Lionel Messi. Newell’s is the largest club from the city of Rosario (one of the largest cities in Argentina). They play their home games at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa (yes, that Bielsa), which holds 38,000 fans.
The club is named after Isaac Newell, an Englishman who emigrated to Argentina in the mid 1800s and established a school that would serve as the initial home of the club. The club’s nickname is The Leprosy and its fans are known as Lepers, which sounds awful until you hear the back story: the team was asked to play a charity match against derby rivals Rosario Central to benefit the leprosy ward of a local hospital, and they accepted enthusiastically. Central initially refused the invitation and earned the nickname Canallas (the rascals).
Newell’s was the first club to sell a player off to Europe when Julio “Matador” Libonatti transferred to Torino in 1925. Newell’s has a long history of producing world class players that went on to represent the national team. The aforementioned Bielsa is their most successful manager (won a pair of league titles in the early 90s and reached the Copa Libertadores final twice). The stadium was renamed in his honor in 2009.
Bullets flew outside La Bombonera Sunday.
NOW things are getting very interesting. The carnage from week seven’s battles left us with some tantalizing matchups heading into week eight. This is when we finally get to see some of the title contenders battling for supremacy. If you’ve been on the fence about Tango Ball so far, now’s the time to GTFI.
Looking Back: Where to start? Well, Estudiantes beat Argentinos 2-1 to go top of the table, but Boca were confident they would regain the top spot by beating Lanús. Unfortunately, they squandered a 2-0 lead and ended up tying 2-2. Thank you, Lanús! Meanwhile, Tigre’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal saw them lose control of the table and drop to third. Plus it complicates their dire relegation issues. So Estudiantes are #1, with Boca and Tigre a point behind. The surprise upset of the weekend was Newell’s beating Vélez on the road, which puts the NOB at #4 while Vélez drops to #5.