April 6, 2011

Argentina, 2011 Clausura.

Filed under: Argentina — admin @ 4:59 pm

Map of Primera División de Argentina – 2011 Clausura

Hasta El Gol Siempre [Argentina football coverage from Sam Kelly].

Primera División de de Argentina table {
2010 Aperuta champions were Estudiantes de La Plata. In the 2011 Apertura, eight rounds (of 19) have been played, and Estudiantes again have the lead, albeit by goal difference over River Plate. River have not won a title since the 2008 Clausura, and are coming off a good 4th place finish in December, yet so bad have they been in the previous two seasons that los Millionarios must still concern themselves with the relegation table (more on that later). Six other clubs are within touching distance of first place, including two, Vélez Sarsfield, and San Lorenzo, who would go top if they won their game in hand. In other words, it is shaping up for another tight, wide-open, and interesting campaign in Argentina.

The maps on the map page show the locations of the 20 clubs in the 2011 Clausura of the Primera División de Argentina. 4 of the clubs’ crests are shown on the main map, and 16 of the clubs’ crests are shown on the inset map of northern Buenos Aires Province which is centererd on the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area and the autonomous city of Buenos Aires. Each club’s profile box shows the club crest, the club’s current kits, and information on the club including – year of formation, location; stadium name and capacity; national professional titles (and year of last title); Copa Libertadores titles (and year of last title); total appearances in the Copa Libertadores competition (and year and result of their last appearance); the length of consecutive seasons the club has currently spent in the first division (and year the club was last promoted); and where the club finished last December in the 2010 Apertura.

The enlarged inset map of the northern region of Buenos Aires Province includes the autonomous city of Buenos Aires [which is a Federal District similar to Washington, DC in terms of it's political status]. Usually around 70% to 80% or so of the top flight clubs in Argentina are from this concentrated region – that is…the autonomous city of Buenos Aires (7 clubs currently), Greater Buenos Aires (7 other clubs currently), and the nearby city of La Plata (2 clubs currently). For the 2010-11 season (ie, the 2010 Apertura and the 2011 Clausura), 16 of the 20 clubs come from this region. All Argentine professional titles have been won by clubs from this region, with the exception of the 9 titles won by two clubs from the city of Rosario, Santa Fe Province (those two clubs being Newell’s Old Boys, with 5 titles; and the currently-second-division-club Rosario Central, with 4 titles). Speaking of the title drought suffered by the other provinces, I should mention the recent rise of an Argentinian club that is pretty far removed geographically from Buenos Aires, and that is Godoy Cruz, who hail from the far western province of Mendoza, which is way closer to Santiago, Chile than it is to Buenos Aires. Godoy Cruz made a credible run for the title a year ago, in the 2010 Clausura (finishing in 3rd place, 4 points behind champions Argentinos Juniors), and are again in competition for their first-ever national title. Godoy Cruz are also playing in their first-ever Copa Libertadores, and have a chance of advancing to the Round of 16 (if they win in Quito, Ecuador next week versus LDU Quito [note: they lost, and are now eliminated from the 2011 Copa Libertadores, along with Independiente]).

There are structural aspects which make Argentinian top flight football unusual…the split season that produces 2 champions per season, and the 3-year average which comprises the relegation process.

As to the split season, a random element is introduced when a championship is decided based on a schedule where a club plays the other clubs just once (and not twice, as is of course the usual case). The bottom line is that the competition becomes very wide-open. Eleven different clubs have won a title in the last 10 years in Argentina, and two clubs have won their first-ever championships.

Primera División de Argentina recent title winners, since 2001-02 (the last ten seasons/ and the last 20 championships)..
11 different title winners
Boca Juniors, 4 titles (last in 2008 Apertura).
River Plate, 4 titles (last in 2008 Clausura).
Estudiantes, 2 titles (last in 2010 Apertura).
Vélez Sarsfield, 2 titles (last in 2009 Clausura).
Argentinos Juniors, 1 title (2010 Clausura).
Banfield, 1 title (2009 Apertura).
Lanús, 1 title (2007 Apertura).
San Lorenzo, 1 title (2007 Clausura).
Newell’s Old Boys, 1 title (2004 Apertura).
Independiente, 1 title (2002 Apertura).
Racing, 1 title (2001 Apertura).

Clubs that won their first National title in the last 10 seasons…

{2010-11 Primera División de Argentina Relegtion table, aka the Promedio here (}.

As to the other aspect of Argentine top flight football that makes it stand apart from most other first division leagues – the Promedio, or 3-season relegation table – there is no way on earth that I am going to defend this cynical system. It is by definition ant-democratic, because it rewards the status quo and creates a non-level playing field for top flight survival. It has been said that the three-year average as a basis for relegation was introduced in 1983-84 because both Boca Juniors and River Plate were under threat of relegation then (the old fashioned way). Since relegation is now decided on a 3-year average, it makes it much harder for newly-promoted teams to stay in the first division. The big clubs love it, because one bad year is not going to send them down, and they don’t have to worry about unloading too much young talent to European clubs, and then suffer a bad season, because there will be future seasons where they can bring their points average back up above the drop zone. None of the Big 5 – Boca Juniors, Independiente, Racing, River Plate, and San Lorenzo – have gone down since the Promedio system was introduced in 1983-84. The 3-year average as a basis for relegation is grossly unfair to small and often provincial clubs, who battle to finally get a chance in top flight football, only to see themselves go straight back down because they didn’t finish in or near the top half of the table. This season all three recently-promoted clubs – Quilmes, All Boys, and Olimpo – might suffer relegation, and for more than one of these clubs it will probably be because of the Promedio. Olimpo, a club from the southern, and much colder, region of Buenos Aires Province, has seen this before. In 2007-08, Olimpo finished in 16th place in the 2007 Apertura, and then 15th place in the 2008 Clausura – and were relegated. That showing would have kept them up in most any other country. In 2006-07, the aforementioned Godoy Cruz ended up with 43 points (when the 2006 Apertura and the 2007 Clausura points were added together), which was better than the points total that season of 5 other teams…Banfield, Belgrano, Gimnasia La Plata, Newell’s Old Boys, and Quilmes- and Godoy Cruz were still relegated, thanks to the three-year average [Godoy Cruz gained promotion back to the Primera División the following season (2007-08)].

A 3-year system of relegation, as opposed to a one-year system of relegation, rewards entrenched interests who have gained competitive advantage over other less powerful interests by fiat, so that the less powerful interests must therefore overachieve to stay on an equal footing with the elite. It is no surprise that the only other prominent place a multi-season system of relegation in football has also been adopted is in Mexico, where the elite have been stacking the deck against the disenfranchised for centuries.

Meanwhile, at this time of the season, when the Clausura campaign is starting to shape up, there is the fact that 4 or 5 clubs must juggle their league campaign with their Copa Libertadores campaign. That can stretch thin a club’s resources and negate a real chance at a Clausura title. In the 20 seasons since the Apertura/Clausura league system has been instituted, no Argentine club has ever won a Clausura title and a Copa Libertadores title simultaneosly.

The 5 Argentine clubs in the 2011 Copa Libertadores Second Stage [ie, the group stage]…
Argentinos Juniors [final match at home v. Fluminense on Wed. 20 April - in contention for advancement {see this}],
Estudiantes [Advanced to Round of 16 as 2nd place in Group],
Godoy Cruz [eliminated in Second Stage],
Independiente [eliminated in Second Stage],
Vélez Sarsfield [Advanced to Round of 16 as 2nd place in Group].

Independiente, the club that has won the most Copa Libertadores titles, with 7, has a third thing which the club must concern itself with – the threat of relegation. Independiente would probably be in a much better position if they weren’t also in the Copa Libertadores, but there you have it – in Argentina, a club can simultaneously be in the final 32 of the most prestigious competition in South America, yet still be around only two bad results away from being relegated to the second division. Independiente find themselves in this situation after stretching their squad in their successful 2010 Copa Sudamericana campaign, which, as winners, secured their place in the 2011 Copa Libertadores. But in concentrating so much on gaining admission to the Copa Libertadores, Independiente finished in last place in the 2010 Apertura, and are now in the bottom third of the current Promedio table.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, ‘Primera División de Argentina‘.
Thanks to RSSSF, and the contributors to this list, ‘Copa Libertadores 1960-2010 Club Histories‘.
Thanks to NordNordWest for the blank map of Argentina, here (

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