The final approaches

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By the end of today, Argentina will have a new champion. San Lorenzo are out of the running due to the goal difference mathematics, so it’s a straight race between Boca Juniors and Tigre. Boca have won twenty-eight titles (amateur and professional), whilst Tigre have finished second, once – and that was a year ago. In the buildup, Boca have announced a familiar name will be returning in 2009 – Carlos Bianchi’s back.

The match will kick off at 8:30pm local time (10:30pm Greenwich Mean Time) on Tuesday night, and will be played at Racing Club’s stadium in Avellaneda, just south of the Capital Federal region which forms the City of Buenos Aires. The security arrangements were announced on Monday.

1,200 security staff will be deployed for the match, and an extra allocation of tickets have been released for this match over the number allowed for the previous two matches in the playoff series. Each side will have 9,000 populares (behind the goal) and 7,500 plateas (along the side of the pitch), the AFA clearly having decided that allowing the highest number of fans possible to see a title-deciding match, in a stadium which holds 55,000, would be silly.

The match comes just a day after Boca announced that ‘El Virrey‘ Carlos Bianchi, the most successful coach in the history of Argentine club football, will return to the club in the new year. Bianchi won’t be taking over first team affairs, but will co-ordinate all the club’s professional football teams, and act as a go-between for the directors and the squad, with a three-year contract.

Tigre will be missing their first-choice goalkeeper Daniel Islas, suspended after getting himself idiotically sent off in stoppage time against San Lorenzo, but enter the match with none of the pressure of expecation on their shoulders. Boca, meanwhile, are working out how to play without Juan Román Riquelme, also suspended for the match.

One alternative is to simply replace Riquelme with Leandro Gracián, but he’s not always impressed when called upon to act as sole enganche for Boca, so manager Carlos Ischia is also looking at the possibility of a flat four across midfield, with Cristian Chávez and Jesús Dátolo on the wings, and Sebastián Battaglia accompanied by Fabián Vargas in the middle. Facundo Roncaglia will replace Juan Forlín, who was subject to a horrible injury on Saturday against San Lorenzo.

Boca can afford any result equal to or better than a single-goal loss, whilst a win for Tigre – who beat Boca 3-2 during the Apertura – by two or more clear goals will see them take their first ever league title. Here we go…

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7 thoughts on “The final approaches

  1. Riquelme being suspended is a blow to Boca it has to be said, but its still difficult to see Tigre winning by two clear goals. If any win was enough they might have been able to do it, but needing to win by two just makes it too tough for them I reckon. Boca to be crowned champions.

  2. Sam-I think Vargas is out as well, due to an accumulation of yellows. I would be pretty surprised if Gracian does not start, but he has not played in quite awhile. With that in mind, Ischia might go with Chavez. But, I think experience will win out, with Gracian on for Roman, and Alvaro Gonzalez on for Vargas.

  3. My money is on Battaglia finally getting a yellow card after like a hundred games he played on the verge of getting that decisive 5th yellow that would have meant he missed a match.

    Now there is no harm for Pezzotta to show him the yellow.

    I can’t think of a more difficult game to make your debut in. Tigre goalkeeper Ardente will go through a lot tonight.

    I’m hoping in vain for a Tigre 2-goal win…

  4. Just how unfair this is!

    Boca win the title losing twice to Tigre (one at home and one in neutral ground).

    And they win it on goal difference! How come they can win it on goal difference and San Lorenzo can’t after 19 matches?

    I mean…if goal difference was the tie-breaker, then San Lorenzo would have won it.

    This is rubbish. A horrible farce.

  5. I agree Seba. I thought the original rules were that if all teams were level, Tigre would be champions by virtue of having beaten them both in regular season.

    I honestly kept thinking of Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2 in 1989 during the closing minutes, it was an extraordinarily similar scenario… except that this was rigged. Maybe I was seeing infringements everywhere, but Luna looked to have been fouled inside the box, and Morel obstructed just outside it as the clock ticked.

    It’s a fix, AFA always want Boca and River to win. I hope Tigre can keep this side together and win the Clausura, with no Copa Lib involvement (and assuming that Racing have no chance of winning it, though it would be a nice fantasy for a bit).

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