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Velez Sarsfield’s claim to being Argentina’s sixth big club
River Plate, Boca Juniors, Independiente, Racing Club and San Lorenzo are Argentina’s Big Five clubs.
Until Estudiantes became the first club outside the elite Five to win a league title in 1967, no other team had lifted the crown since in the professional era began in 1931.
Many clubs have won a league title since Estudiantes’ first success and Velez have become the most successful of these, winning their eighth crown at the weekend.
It puts them one ahead of Racing, who have won only one in the last 45 years.
One of the chief characteristics of the big teams is their derbies, the clasicos. The biggest is the Superclasico between River Plate and Boca Juniors, then comes the Avellaneda derby between Independiente and Racing whose two large stadiums are less than 300 metres apart.
San Lorenzo’s derby rivals are Huracan but Velez have long surpassed Huracan as a major force. Velez’s area rivals in the west of the capital are Ferro Carril Oeste, now in the second-tier Nacional B championship.
Velez and Huracan are at opposite extremes of the financial spectrum in Argentina’s top flight.
In June 2009, chance would have it that they met at Velez’s Fortin stadium in the final round of the season to play for the title, which Velez won.
Huracan, who gelled into a fine attacking side that season under coach Angel Cappa, were dismantled afterwards, goalkeeper Gaston Monzon is the only member of that team still at the club and Cappa was not retained.
One of the best run clubs in the country, Velez have won another title with almost the same side as in 2009 and the same coach, Ricardo Gareca.
Picture: Members of Velez Sarsfield pose before their soccer match against Huracan in the Argentine championship in Buenos Aires June 12, 2011. Velez Sarsfield won the Argentina Clausura championship with a match to spare after a 2-0 away win over Huracan on Sunday. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian