Sunday, May 8, 2016

First Division – Campeonato Metropolitano – had one hopeless outsider and two teams competing for the title. Colon (Santa Fe) was the outsider – they finished last with 21 points. Apart from Colon, the struggle for survival was fierce - in the final table 6 points separated 7th from 17th place.
San Lorenzo de Almagro (Buenos Aires) lost the battle by a point and finished 17th with 28 points. Along with Colon, one of the strongest teams in the early 1970s was relegated.
Other clubs in bad shape were: Argentinos Juniors, which without Maradona immediately dropped from title contender to just trying to escape relegation – they finished 16th with 29 points.

Talleres (Cordoba) finished also with 29 points, but better goal-difference placed the 15th.
Estudiantes (La Plata) were 14th. Velez Sarsfield was 11th. These the clubs in bad shape this year. The opposite way took two teams.

Sarmiento (Junin) finished 13th. Nothing special, at first glance, but they were debutantes and prime candidates for relegation. But the modest newcomers fought to the end and ensured at least one more season among the best.
The second team was a pleasant surprise and, if we move the focus from Maradona, the most interesting thing in Argentine football this year. About them – in a moment.
Huracan finished 8th – nothing much, really, but they distinguished themselves in unusual way: Centurion's goal sent San Lorenzo to Second Division. Standing from left: Turco García, Pogany, Jorge Gutiérrez, el Negro Longo, Clide Díaz, Toledo.
First row: Cheves, Agüero, Daniel Cano, Carlos Babington, Centurión.
Racing Club had a relatively good season – they finished 5th, ahead of local rivals Independiente. Not a bad squad, but just a promising one at the moment. Hugo Barbas was the veteran star, playing back in Argentina after many years in France, Van Tuyne was the current star player, and Calderon and Olarticoechea were fresh upstarts, still unknown far and wide. Standing from left: Olarticoechea, Van Tuyne, Osvaldo Pérez, Vivalda, Berta, Leroyer.
Crouching: Calderón, Barbas, Villarruel, Carrasco, Muñiz.
River Plate misfired – full of great names, including Tarantini and Kempes, they finished 4th. A point ahead of Racing, missing 3rd place on goal-difference, and... not at all running for the title. 39 points – the contenders finished with much more.
Newell's Old Boys edged River Plate from 3rd place and, to a point, the team did surprisingly well – compared to River Plate, they were nothing as names. Killer was a star, but hardly on the level of Kempes, Alonso, Passarella, and Simon... well, the world had still to wait many years before hearing of him. Third place, but far away from the title – they finished with 39 points. The silver medalists ended with 49.
Two teams competed for the title to the very end of the championship – at the end 1 point separated them. One of the leaders was expected – Boca Juniors. The acquisition of Diego Maradona made them instant favourites. The other team was a big, but pleasant surprise – a team without stars, usually modest and hardly ever making news.
Ferro Carril Oeste, long time First Division members, but one of the smaller clubs in Buenos Aires. And still nothing special, considering the squad – perhaps Garre was their best known player, and he was not exactly first-rate star. Cuper is immediately noticed today, but this is because he became famous coach – Cuper, the player, was not a star. Yet, this largely anonymous and modest squad not only left River Plate far behind, but played as equals with Boca Juniors and Maradona. They even lost fewer matches than Boca and had much better defensive record. Unfortunately, Boca won more more matches then the boys in green and white and they lost the title by a point. Looked like one time wonder, this team, but they were not.
With Diego Maradona now, Boca Juniors must have been formidable team. They were strong before his arrival, having strong run for some time – with him, they had to be almost unbeatable. Everything looked perfect: young Diego was Boca fan and was delighted to see his dream coming true. Hugo Gatti was happy to see Diego on his side instead of scoring him humiliating goals. Diego arrived and Boca immediately won Metropolitano – predictions fulfilled... but it was not an easy victory at all. And considering the rival, Boca Juniors did not seem overwhelming at all. But a title is a title.

Champions – no matter what, one cannot argue against the fact.