Vélez Sarsfield beat Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina’s ‘Superfinal’ – but what does it mean?

Saturday early evening brought an historic – and utterly ridiculous – match in Argentine football; the first Superfinal. The match was played in Mendoza between Vélez Sarsfield, the winners of last year’s Torneo Inicial, and Newell’s Old Boys, winners of the recently-ended Torneo Final. Ostensibly, the idea was to crown one champion of Argentina for the 2012-13 season, and Vélez won 1-0 thanks to a ninth minute goal from Lucas Pratto. You can see that goal – and read why I’m far from satisfied with the way the AFA have organised all this – below the line.

2012-13 Campeonato de Primera División, Superfinal: Vélez Sarsfield 1-0 Newell’s Old Boys

Half an hour in, Ignacio Scocco had a penalty for Newell’s saved after Vélez captain Fabián Cubero was sent off for bringing down Maxi Rodríguez, and though the rosarinos dominated the match, Vélez hung on with ten men for the win.

Now, here’s the thing. This one match is going to be counted by the AFA as a new league title for Vélez. Let me clarify; both clubs have already been credited with a championship for the Inicial/Final wins they picked up during 2012-13. Vélez now get another national title, meaning that officially they’ve now been champions of Argentina ten times. Presumably this means that come the new season, we’re not allowed to refer to Newell’s as ‘the champions’ – did their reign only last two weeks?

Come on, AFA – if you’re going to have this system (which exists elsewhere in South America, such as across the river in Uruguay), at least make it clear at the start of the season and don’t allow the winners of the two constituent campaigns to call themselves champions. Awarding an official league trophy for winning one match makes a mockery of the exercise, and having three different league champions in the course of just one season is plain silly. And that’s before we even get on to the argument that if you want one champion per season, then maybe a straightforward home-and-away league system is the way to go.

Anyway; for winning, Vélez get to play in the Supercopa Argentina in December (against whoever wins the Copa Argentina, whose final this year will be in November), as well as winning qualification to the Copa Sudamericana 2013 and the Copa Libertadores 2014. Yes, Newell’s had already qualified for the latter by winning the Torneo Final – another piece of ridiculousness, because it meant the two sides in this match weren’t even playing for the exact same prizes (it also, of course, means Vélez get to enter two continental cups having won just one match, after being utterly crap for half of the season).

Newell’s visibly didn’t even care; they have the first leg of their Copa Libertadores semi-final on Wednesday, at home to Atlético Mineiro, and manager Gerardo Martino said prior to this match that he considered the Superfinal ‘a very strange fixture,’ and did everything but admit his side wouldn’t be taking it overly seriously.

The folk at TV Pública and Fútbol Para Todos are doing their best to keep up the pretence, but I suspect this idea will come in for some criticism now it’s been played out for the first time (the AFA only confirmed this would be an actual championship match about two weeks ago). Even then, though, it might not be enough to put them off doing it again next year; but we can perhaps hope…

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