The first round the 2011 Torneo Apertura in Argentina’s top flight kicks off this evening, and for the first time since 1908, a season gets underway in Argentina which won’t include River Plate in the country’s top division. The club who replaced them by beating them in the playoffs, Belgrano de Córdoba, open their campaign away to All Boys tomorrow afternoon, but first two more newly-promoted sides are in action. Banfield host Nacional B champions Atlético Rafaela in the first match of the season, and Unión de Santa Fe are at home to Argentinos Juniors in the other. Three of the four remaining Big Five sides play on Sunday, with Racing away to Tigre, Boca away to Olimpo and San Lorenzo hosting Lanús. Independiente’s first game is postponed due to their game in Japan on Wednesday night in the Suruga Bank championship (they lost on penalties). And last season’s third-placed side, Godoy Cruz, are at home to the champions, Vélez Sarsfield. All the kick off times and referees are right here. Let the games begin.
All kick off times are local. Argentina is three hours behind Greenwich Mean Time/UTC (meaning four hours behind British Summer Time, which you’re currently running on if you’re in the UK).
Primera División Torneo Apertura 2011, first round
Club Atlético Banfield v Asociación Mutual Social y Deportiva Atlético de Rafaela (Fri, 19:10; refereed by F. Beligoy)
Club Atlético Unión de Santa Fe v Asociación Atlética Argentinos Juniors (Fri, 21:15; C. Maglio)
Club Atlético All Boys v Club Atlético Belgrano (Sat, 17:05; J.P. Pompei)
Arsenal Fútbol Club v Club Atlético Colón (Sat, 19:10; D. Abal)
Club Deportivo Godoy Cruz Antonio Tomba v Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield (Sat, 21:15; P. Lunati)
Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys v Club Estudiantes de La Plata (Sun, 14:00; P. Loustau)
Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro v Club Atlético Lanús (Sun, 16:05; S. Pezzotta)
Club Olimpo v Club Atlético Boca Juniors (Sun, 18:10; H. Baldassi)
Club Atlético Tigre v Racing Club (Sun, 20:15; N. Pitana)
Club Atlético Independiente v Club Atlético San Martín de San Juan – date not yet set
Teams in green above are the sides who are new to the division this season (none of them are first-timers in the Primera, though). Vélez are in gold as they’re the champions.
As usual, I’ll be posting links to most games a few minutes before kick off so you can watch live – and legally – online. Those links will go up on Twitter. You can also read my previews on every match over on the website of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. At the time of writing, Banfield v Rafaela is here, and Unión v Argentinos here.
You can follow the latest news from the selección and Argentina’s foreign legion of players, as well as the domestic championship, River Plate’s first second division campaign in over a century and the ever entertaining/tragic/infuriating capers of Julio Grondona & chums direct from Buenos Aires with HEGS on Twitter. If you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here. You can also join the official HEGS Facebook group, to keep up to date with the latest posts on the blog and discuss things with other fans. You’ll find it here. And remember to bookmark Hand Of Pod, our Argentine football podcast, or if you prefer you can subscribe to it on iTunes here.