Argentine soccer: River Plate is proclaimed champion and gives the first league to Gallardo | sports

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Braian Romero celebrates his goal against Racing, this Thursday, in Buenos Aires.
Braian Romero celebrates his goal against Racing, this Thursday, in Buenos Aires.ALEJANDRO PAGNI (AFP)

If Argentina mourned the first anniversary of Diego Maradona’s death, Thursday ended with an explosion of joy for River Plate, the classic rival of the idol’s team, a well-known Boca Juniors militant. Commanded by a 45-year-old totem that has trained River for seven and a half years and this Thursday he added his 13th Olympic round, Marcelo Gallardo, the club that won the most Argentine leagues, beat Racing 4-0 and became champion of the 2021 edition in the absence of three dates for the tournament to end.

Generally focused on international competitions since its inauguration, in mid-2014, it is the first league that River has won with Gallardo and the second for the club in its last 21 editions, since 2008, but the 37th in history. Boca follows, with 34 First Division tournaments. If Argentina and River were always the cradle of cracks, the shining appearance of this season is that of Julián Álvarez, a 21-year-old striker who added voracity in the area to his polished technique: with 16 goals he heads the La Liga scorers’ table. Professional. The last time a River player finished as the tournament’s top scorer was 31 tournaments ago, in 2002.

Like a pact of blood, the lasting bond between River and Gallardo – already among the five technicians with the longest tenure in their position in the history of domestic football – contrasts with the unhinged Argentine tournaments, whose organization changes every year. The First Division championships had 14 formats and 15 names in the last 10 years and will undergo further modifications next season, when the league will become the league with the largest number of teams in the world, with 28. In this context, it is more atypical that River 2022 may suffer the resignation of Gallardo, who at the beginning of this month, prior to Xavi’s arrival at Barcelona, ​​sounded like a possible replacement for Ronald Koeman: his contract expires in December and he has not yet announced if he will renew it.

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River’s title comes at a time of duality for Argentine soccer. The excellent 2021 of his national team, champion of America with Lionel Messi at the Maracana, undefeated in the last 27 games and with guaranteed qualification for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, is contrasted with the domestic tournaments that seem designed to suit the needs of the leaders’ needs.

The Professional League – that is its current name, as in the previous ones it was Super League – that has just consecrated River has 26 participants, a number well above the average for the rest of the world. Only Argentina and five other First Division championships have more than 20 teams: Venezuela (21), Kiribati (23), Equatorial Guinea (24), Libya (24) and the joint US-Canada league (27). The historical number in Argentina until 2014 was 20, as were the major leagues, such as England, Spain, Italy, France and Brazil (Germany has 18). In 2022, with the jump to 28 clubs, Argentina will become the world record, although in 2015 it reached 30.

Without relegation in the First Division since 2020, the local championships, especially those of the Ascent, generate permanent controversies. The striking campaign of Barracas Central, the humble club of the president of the AFA, Claudio Tapia, which this Monday lost to Tigre in the final due to promotion to the First Division, was favored by constant arbitration decisions. Domestic football also suffers from the unstoppable inflation that plagues the national economy, at 50 percent per year, and the constant depreciation of the peso: if Argentine clubs were always exporters, today it is difficult for them to retain their figures more than ever. This year neither team advanced to the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores and Sudamericana.

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In this context, River and Gallardo – it is not clear in what order – mean an oasis. After a hesitant start to the season, which included a rare elimination in the Libertadores quarter-finals against Atlético Mineiro of Brazil, the team put together a formidable run. River has 16 games without defeats and in all the Professional League games he scored goals. Only three times in history has the club become champion so long before the tournament ends.

After the pandemic, and due to the economic crisis, River and Boca lowered the average age of their teams by three years, from 28 years to 25. With the spiritual leadership of the old chiefs, Enzo Pérez (35), Franco Armani (35) , Leonardo Ponzio (39), Javier Pinola (38) and Jonatan Maidana (36), Gallardo found unexpected responses in young people such as Álvarez, Santiago Simón (19), Benjamín Rollheiser (21), Felipe Peña (20), Enzo Fernández ( 20), Federico Girotti (22) and Héctor Martínez (23), the new names for the old River, the most champion of the Argentine league with the traditional formats or the riveted ones of today.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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