ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Last year’s Initial Tournament of the 2013-14 Argentinian season was closer than ever but champions San Lorenzo were criticised for winning with the lowest points total since one-round short tournaments began in 1991.

The current Final Tournament is following the same pattern as it reaches the halfway stage.

One reason why competition is so close is that the strongest teams qualified for the Copa Libertadores and thus their league form has suffere simply because they cannot cope effectively with both competitions.

So far, 72pc of league games have been drawn or decided by one goal (draws 32pc, one goal differences 40pc) which is not far different from the Initial Tournament and shows how close most games are.

Colon from Santa Fe are surprise leaders although hardly likely to stay there. The club have debts to current and past players and elsewhere and were not allowed to sign new men.

Almost 30 former players are claiming money owed while the former committee even owed the club’s bar £9,000 pesos and left no paperwork regarding contracts.

New committee

A new committee is in the process of expelling former committee members from the club. But then, every new committee, finds fault with its predecessor so it can always have somebody else to blame.

At least there is light at the end of the tunnel – apart from the present positive league results. Colon have managed to pay off a debt to Mexican club Atlante for which FIFA fined them with the loss of six points in the Initial Tournament. The return of these points would move them further away from relegation.

All Boys, another small club, also started the season with heavy debts. They owed some players up to seven months’ salary – so much, indeed, thay president Horacio Bugallo said anybody who wanted to leave could do so and the club would  carry on using only younger players who earn below £1,500 a month.

So far no-one has taken up his offer and All Boys stand fifth in the table and two places above relegation.

How is it that teams with less experienced (and badly paid) players are outplaying bigger clubs with so-called stars? They have less pressure and know their limitations. Any point is welcome.

As for Boca Juniors, the ‘Boca cabaret’ continues. The latest player who wants to leave is striker Juan Martínez – partly because he is not starting games and partly because of does not get on with captain Juan Román Riquelme (like several others).

Change for its own sake

More than 20 players have been happy to leave the club in recent times and most have been successful elsewhere. Coach Carlos Bianchi has made mistakes both in team selection and in his substitutions.

River Plate continue making many team changes but still cannot put a successful team together. They want to bring home veteran former stars such as striker Fernando Cavenaghi but he has not been as successful as expected. Now they are also want former internationals Pablo Aimar and Javier Saviola to return.

Racing are another of the big clubs in trouble — propping up the table with only four points out of a possible 24. Coach Reinaldo Merlo, who won their last title 13 years ago, may leave at the weekend. It seems he has lost the dressing room’ although a couple of wins would fix that.

The suspicion is that in two seasons, the players have made four coaches leave.  In any case, Racing Club have a tradition of changing coaches teh most. They sign them like players then think they are 100pc responsible. When Racing won the title in 2001 under Merlo, they raised a statue to him.

On the hooligan front five clubs – Boca, River, All Boys, San Lorenzo and Argentinos Juniors – asked the Argentinian football association to help them avoid further sanctions from the government sports security committee for trouble inside their stadiums.

If club officials do not list hooligans on the banned list who is to blame?


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