And so it arrives. In a few hours’ time, either Lanús will be the champions of Argentina, or the title race will be heading towards a playoff between them and Tigre. For that to happen, Boca – with nothing but pride to play for – must beat Lanús in La Bombonera, and Tigre have to overcome Argentinos in the Estadio Diego A. Maradona. Given Lanús’s form, they’re the favourites – but who’d rule out a final twist in this astonishing campaign?
Argentinos themselves are searching for their best points tally and position since the short tournaments were introduced in 1990, so won’t be going out to simply lie down and give the visitors what they need. Tigre forward Seba Ereros has a bit of a family dilemma to overcome along the way. His father, Carlos Adolfo Ereros, is one of the greatest players in the history of Argentinos, having won the 1984 Metropolitano and Nacional championships, and the Libertadores and Interamericana of 1995, and now finds himself in serious danger, he says, of becoming known merely as ‘Sebastián’s father’.
Seba, for his part, has said he won’t celebrate should he score against Argentinos tonight (as indeed has happened in the past, when he was playing for Vélez Sársfield’s reserves). ‘I know how much my dad loves the club, and for that reason it wouldn’t make sense to celebrate if I’m lucky enough to score,’ says the considerate son. Carlos, meanwhile, insists that club ties are one thing, family quite another – and if Tigre have to score ten against his side tonight, he’ll be happy for his boy. All together now: aahhhh.
Lanús, meanwhile, are the favourites for the title. Manager Ramón Cabrero said during the week that his side only need a draw, and that therefore it would be rash to go out all guns blazing in La Bombonera of all places. Boca have little to play for (they can’t gain any positions, but might lose one or two should they not win the match), but with or without the World Club Championship to prepare for, will one of the world’s most decorated clubs be happy to allow another team to be crowned champions in their own stadium?
And there’s more intrigue. 51 weeks ago, Boca faced Lanús in La Bombonera on the last weekend. That day, the hosts needed a single point. One point, and for the first time in their history, Boca Juniors would win a third consecutive league championship. But after Martín Palermo had put them into the lead on the half hour and Claudio Graf had equalised on the stroke of half time, Rodrigo Archubi spoiled the party in spectacular fashion, scoring the only goal of the second half – and a very good goal it was, actually – to give Lanús the win and force Boca into a championship playoff against Estudiantes – which they lost.
So now that the pressure’s on Lanús, and Boca are out for revenge, how will Cabrero’s boys cope? Will we have another playoff between two totally unexpected protagonists? Or will the Granate get what they want in the lions’ den? This season’s championship race has been quite a ride – this evening we find out whether it’s time to get off, or if it’s to last just a little bit longer…
Is there any other country where players don’t celebrate against former teams or teams they otherwise have an affinity with? You see it all the time in Argentina but I don’t remember seeing it anywhere else.
David, lots of players don’t celebrate if they score against one of their old clubs. Henrik Larsson when he scored for Barcelona against Celtic in the Champs League is just one from recent years that springs to mind. It happens frequently in the Premiership as well, though I can’t speak so much for other leagues in Europe because obviously I’m not able to watch as much of them…
Very common in Italy as well (as long as the player has a meaningful history with the opposing club, and especially in the first year following a transfer). In fact it is so common here that it is more likely that such a celebration would engender commentary than the usual restraint.
Thanks, I had no idea that that was common practice in other places aside from Argentina.