Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 Promotion/Relegation Blues

Promotion and relegation in Futbol Argentino can be a confusing thing. For relegation, points are averaged from games played over a three year period. The two teams with the lowest average in the National A are automatically dropped to the National B, and replaced by the top two teams from the lower division.

This year we see San Martin De Tucumán and Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy taking the direct drop out of the National A. Gimnasia Jujuy return to the National B after having won promotion back in 2005 as National B Clausura champions for that year. This was their second stint in the top flight, having gained promotion back in 1994 after winning the 1993/94 National B championship, only to be relegated in 2000.

San Martin, we barely knew you. The team from Tucumán only lasted one year in the top division. This was their third appearance in the National A, with both of their other stays just as long as their third.

Replacing them are newly crowned National B champions Atlético Tucumán, and second place Chacarita Jrs. Tucumán have two other spells in the National A, but the last was over 25 years ago. It will be surprising if they remain more than a year.

If there is a team that I was hoping never to see in the National A ever again, it is Chacarita. They have been away from the top flight for 5 years now, but the memories of their Barras Bravas still linger. These are the "fans" who rained down bits of La Bombonera down from the terraces at there bitterest rivals, the "fans" who in 1984 cost their team 10 points due to their violent ways. When it comes time for their matches against Boca Jrs, it will be more than interesting to see how they are handled. Hopefully the team will be back to the National B after the Clausura 2010.

After that there are the playoff positions. The teams with the third and fourth worst points average in the National A face off against the fourth and third place team from the National B. This year that placed Rosario Central against Belgrano de Cordoba, while Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata played Atletico Rafaela.

Now there was plenty of Leprosos that were cheering for Belgrano over the course of the home/away playoff games. Central, Newell's crosstown rivals, did not give those voices the out come they were hoping for, however. On Wednesday, Los Canallas de Central won their away leg in Cordoba 1-0. Today, in the return leg, Belgrano struck back to even the score to give their, and many an Newell's fan, hope. Those were hopes were thwarted, however, when Central evened the match day score at 1-1, giving them the 2-1 aggregate win.

For my part, while I would have not minded seeing Central take the drop, but am glad they did not. A season with out the Clásico Rosarino wouldn't have seemed right.

The other playoff was even more entertaining, as Atletico Rafaela beat a lack luster Gimnasia LP 3-0 at home. Gimnasia (as the team from La Plata are generally known, as they are traditionally the only Gimnasia in the National A) had never in their history beaten the team from Rafaela, Santa Fe. With their backs against the wall today, Gimnasia broke that egg, beating Rafaela 3-0, the very score they needed to stay up (as the team facing relegation, all they needed was an aggregate draw.)

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