Read my latest Article on goal.com here > http://bit.ly/ewJyUD
It’s an analysis of the title race and three different styled teams in the top 3. If I’d had more words, make no mistake, I would have gone on forever about it but I don’t want people thinking I’ve forgotten the other sides in the mix.
This weekend is the half way stage of the Clausura but how do you decide where the title contenders end when only 10 points separates the top 18 of 20? I’d be tempted to cut it at 4 points off the top, principally because there’s a fair amount of teams in that group, and whilst there’s plenty of the teams in the hunt, those sides look to have the class and staying power.
This excludes Racing, who after 5 games were 4-0-1 and top. What promised to be a “title challenge” was in fact, just a promising start, and the season-long injury of Gio Moreno is starting to tell, especially now that the “do it for gio” mentality has seemingly had its effect and long since worn off. Heading into their huge game this weekend in the Avellaneda Clasico, they’re 4 without a win, 3 of them losses.
So who is in this group then? Well the top 3 are in the article above so I won’t go over them again in any detail. Whilst I fully expect Velez to be involved in the chase at the end of the season, their chances of actually winning it will be heavily influenced by their progress in continental competition. River look like the real deal under JJ Lopez but in Argentina’s second-biggest soap opera of a club, anything is possible and, very probable. Olimpo, with a much more limited squad and infrastructure are certainly overachieving and they seem most likely to drop if injuries, suspensions or perhaps just a lack of quality takes effect.
Estudiantes are 2 points off the top, they are largely the same as the brilliant side that won the Apertura and I feel like they have the ability to go all the way in the Copa Libertadores, with their continental load of fixtures already being partly to blame for a couple of surprise losses on a domestic level, as with Velez, their progress elsewhere will define their quest for a title on home soil.
In fifth and 3 points off the top are Argentinos. Whilst the only unbeaten side in the league, they haven’t wowed anyone particularly this season but have an astonishing defensive record, having conceded only 3 goals in their 9 games. Too lacking in attack though, I feel that when the defence does begin to be breached more often, they too will fall away.
More of a threat, but one point further behind, are San Lorenzo. Having been impressed with their mid-season recruitment I was keen to see how they’d progress and if they win their game in hand (abandoned under tragic circumstances), then they’re hugely in the picture but it’s a tough one at Velez. They boast an excellent midfield, with Ortigoza, Torres and Romagnoli hugely under-rated (possibly by virtue of not playing for River or Boca). They have a solid defence with the impressive Bottinelli and Tula (who also chip in with goals) alongside marauding full-backs, who are prone to the odd golazo as much as the defensive slip. Perhaps lacking up-front, Menseguez (once of West Brom) is their only threat and the lack of a genuine number 9 could cost them in the end but it certainly looks like a promising campaign for el Ciclón.
4 points off the lead are two rank outsiders, Godoy Cruz and Lanús. The former are too inconsistent in my opinion, but will be better having been knocked out of the CL this week. The latter are in interesting proposition, a classy attacking midfield comprised of Regueiro, Valeri and Camoranesi is one of terrific quality, but one fears that deficiencies elsewhere will cost them. I would expect Lanus to be top 5/6 come the end of the campaign though.
Well if you’ve got this far, you must be either bored or really interested in Argentinean football, so drop me a little comment or just disappear without a word. But that would be less polite 🙂