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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.
Argentines often talk about how heavy a particular football shirt can be, River Plate’s, Boca Juniors’ or Argentina’s.
“La camiseta pesa” (the vest weighs (a lot).
This is what is happening to the players of River Plate, one of Argentina’s “Big Two”, who could be relegated for the first time this month.
Club president Daniel Passarella, a temperamental former River and Argentina captain and coach, exploded at the weekly Argentine Football Association board meeting chaired by AFA chief Julio Grondona.
River Plate are playing two championships in one and until Sunday’s shock 2-0 home defeat by modest All Boys they had as good a chance of winning the Clausura title as they do now of relegation.
In the craziest of Argentine league championships, results are impossible to predict and playing away is an advantage. There have been 50 away wins and 41 at home so far in 13o Clausura matches this term.
Olimpo, a modest team from the port city of Bahia Blanca on the windswept Atlantic coast in southern Buenos Aires province, are doing well in the Clausura championship. They are in fourth place three points behind leaders Velez Sarsfield.
Boca Juniors, one of the big clubs from the capital, are 14th — seven points off the pace.
Boca Juniors have two aces in their pack, one now firing on all cylinders, the other in one of his worst slumps during his final season before retiring.
River Plate have a new ace at the lower end of the age scale who is growing in confidence, cheek and sheer skill.
Losing the player voted best of the Apertura championship in the first half of the season to an injury that will keep him out for the whole of the Clausura seemed to dash any hopes Racing Club had of the Argentine title.
As with Boca Juniors’ loss of Juan Roman Riquelme to injury in the Apertura, so Racing feared the worst when Colombian Giovanni Moreno damaged knee ligaments in their opening match.
Boca Juniors can’t escape the spotlight after another defeat, 1-0 at Velez Sarsfield on Sunday.
The big question surrounding coach Julio Cesar Falcioni’s team is whether he should continue to pick striker Martin Palermo when he can only count on one half of a brilliant, but aging double act that helped Boca win a string of trophies.
Rex Gowar in Argentina on how Boca’s fans turned on their team.
Bewildered Boca Juniors, their promising wins in mid-season friendlies a distant memory, are grappling with tactics that led to fans turning against them during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to modest All Boys.
Chants of “Riquelme, Riquelme” rang down from the stands in the packed Bombonera during Saturday’s miserable performance from fans who had welcomed the appointment as coach last month of Julio Cesar Falcioni.