(Well it’s not like I get many chances to reference Shuggie Otis in a headline, is it?) The Superliga season still has six matches to run, but continental qualification could be the only live issue for most of the run-in. Boca Juniors are eight points clear at the top, and in the relegation table – which isn’t the same as the league table, remember – things could be decided this weekend. Relegation in Argentina is decided by totting up points won by each team over the last three consecutive seasons in the league, dividing those points by games played, and then relegating (this season) the bottom four teams in the resulting table. Arsenal de Sarandí were relegated last weekend. Chacarita Juniors, although below them in the table, can still survive because their points are divided by fewer matches, meaning their wins are worth more. But it’s not impossible that all four places will be decided this weekend.
Fortunately for me, an actual sports analyst has crunched the numbers so I don’t have to. Howard Hamilton of Soccermetrics is a big Argieball fan, and was kind enough to draw my attention to his Twitter thread on the permutations for the weekend to come. So, deep breath …
In case you can’t see the above tweet for some reason, it says that Chacarita will go down if they lost away to Estudiantes and Tigre win their game at home to Gimnasia (which is the first game of the weekend, kicking off a little over two hours after this post is published, so we’ll know quite quickly) and Vélez Sarsfield (away to Colón on Saturday afternoon) and Patronato (away to Arsenal on Monday evening) both avoid defeat.
If Chacarita beat Estudiantes (which seems unlikely, but Estudiantes aren’t in the best form at present, so who knows), they still need to basically win all their remaining matches and hope everyone above them loses all of theirs in order to scramble to safety. If you click Howard’s tweet above, you’ll see a short thread of permutations for which teams just above the relegation zone will need how many points in the event of certain results for the bottom sides this weekend.
One thing he overlooked is that Olimpo and Temperley can also both be relegated this weekend. That would happen if either of them lose this weekend – Olimpo are away to Banfield, Temperley at home to Lanús – and if as well as that result, Tigre beat Gimnasia, Vélez beat Colón, and Patronato avoid losing to Arsenal. Note that even if one of both of them win, they’d still most likely need to win every one of their remaining games to stay up. The mathematics for those two are simplified enormously by the fact that they’ve played the same number of games as the teams immediately above the relegation zone, though – meaning you just have to look at how many points behind Tigre they are to see how far they are from safety. The relegation table can be seen here, and that’s a live table; if you refresh the page during matches this weekend, it’ll show you the table as it stands with the current score of whichever game you’re following factored in.
To be clear, we know who’s going to be relegated, so massive is the gap. It’s just a matter of whether all this will happen this weekend or next.
Thanks to Howard for prompting me to write this post. You can follow him here on Twitter, where he tweets the only Expected Goals tallies I’ve ever seen for the Argentine league.