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.
An aside about golden boot man Carlos Luna: some of you are fans of struggling EPL clubs in need of a solid striker. On the surface, it would seem like a coup to land Argentina’s top goalscorer, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Luna is on the old side at 30, and this is his best season in a while. He’s probably not the next Papiss Demba Cissé.
Midweek Gossip and Other Nonsense: Not a lot to mention here. The sports media scandal machine is offline while everyone focuses on the grand finale weekend.
Happy trails to Esteban “Bichi” Fuertes! The 39 year old striker is retiring after 21 seasons as a pro. He’s made 301 appearances for boyhood club Colón de Santa Fe, scoring 142 goals. Besides his lengthy domestic league career, Fuertes spent some time in Ligue 1 with Lens, in England with Derby County, and in Spain with Tenerife. He scored a brace on Monday against Godoy Cruz.
Looking Forward: Let’s sort this out so you’re in on all the possible permutations of the final week’s results. As mentioned, Arsenal and Tigre are two points ahead of Boca. They’re also dead even on goal diff (+14), but Arsenal gets the slight edge by having scored more goals overall. Here’s a breakdown of what each team needs to happen:
Arsenal de Sarandí: A club named Arsenal about to win a league title? Unpossible! El Arse would be crowned champions with a win over Belgrano and a Tigre loss or draw. If Tigre wins, they’ll need to end up with a better goal difference. I’m not sure how head to head results figure into this, but Arsenal beat Tigre earlier this year, for what it’s worth.
Tigre: The Matador from Victoria could be champions if they can beat my beloved (but currently shit) Independiente, and Arsenal drop points. Should both win, Tigre needs to score more goals.
But there’s an interesting wrinkle here: Arsenal and Independiente are sort of like buddy clubs. They’re from the same neighborhood and Arsenal was founded by folks from Independiente. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Independiente’s squad receiving an “incentive” from the Arsenal players to beat Tigre. Happens all the time in Tango Ball. Apparently it’s not cheating unless they’re getting paid to lose. Having said that, I don’t think Independiente is good enough right now to beat Tigre, incentive or not.
Here’s another crazy thing involving Tigre: although they’re in the title hunt, they’re also in the relegation picture. There’s a convoluted possibility that Tigre could win the league and still have to play a relegation playoff against the 4th best team from the 2nd division. Even crazier: if Tigre ends up tied with Arsenal for the title and also tied for a relegation playoff spot, they would have to play a tiebreaker final against Arsenal for the title, then play a tiebreaker to avoid the relegation playoffs. Should Tigre win the league and still somehow end up being relegated, the Argentine FA, in its great magnanimity, would recognize the title (but Tigre would still be relegated). Is your head spinning yet?
Boca Juniors: El Xeneize needs to beat sixth place All Boys and hope Arsenal and Tigre both lose or draw. If either Arsenal or Tigre get a point, Boca would have to win by at least 3 goals to overcome the goal difference. Should either Arsenal or Tigre win, Boca has no shot.
All matches with either title or relegation implications will be played simultaneously at 3 p.m. local time on Sunday (2 p.m. Eastern). That’s seven matches going on at once. Tango Ball is going out in style.