While Boca Juniors moved in on the Argentinean Superliga title, Arsenal de Sarandí suffered relegation for the first time in their history
The relegations of River Plate and Independiente in recent years, two of Argentina’s biggest clubs, had left Boca Juniors crowing over their status as the only club never to suffer the ignominy of dropping out of the top flight.
Relative newcomers, Arsenal de Sarandí piped up from time to time to stress that they too haven’t been relegated since their promotion to the top flight in 2002 but after only forming in 1957 and dropping from the Primera B in 1984 during their rise to the Primera, it was a claim that always fell on deaf ears.
This weekend, however, as Boca Juniors claimed victory over Talleres to place one hand on the Superliga title, Arsenal were confirmed as the first victim of this season’s relegation battle.
Only a catastrophic collapse would see Boca Juniors surrender their nine-point lead with six games remaining.
Underdogs Talleres had impressively closed the gap on Boca but needed victory in La Bombonera to open up the title race and ultimately fell just short. For the third consecutive round, Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side struck in injury time, on Sunday captain Pablo Pérez volleying in from close range, to all but confirm Boca’s title defence and what will be a 33rd top flight crown.
While Boca celebrate their latest impending triumph and the 113th year of their existence this week; Arsenal drop back into the Nacional B after only sixteen years among the giants.
And it is no real coincidence to see Arsenal slide back down the footballing ladder given the loss of their guardian.
The club was formed in 1957 by brothers Héctor and Julio Grondona, and unless you’re a real newcomer to South American football, that second name is likely very familiar.
Julio would become the president of the Argentinean Football Association in 1979 and rising to his role as one of world football’s most powerful figures, it was no surprise that Arsenal enjoyed a remarkable parallel rise through the league system.
With Don Julio at the head of Argentinean football, Arsenal lifted the Copa Sudamericana in 2007 and the Primera title in 2012 but his sudden death while still holding office as president in 2014 has seen a rapid decline in Sarandí.
Argentina’s relegation system, using an average points tally over the last three tournaments, and Grondona’s last act of increasing the Primera to 30 clubs, as a result inundating it with weak clubs, has delayed Arsenal’s relegation but less than four years after his death, his team are gone.
Safe to say Argentine football hasn't exactly shed a tear over Arsenal's relegation from the top flight earlier pic.twitter.com/jcLjYS1vfA
— Peter Coates (@golazoargentino) April 1, 2018
The club’s lack of history, lack of support and link to Grondona means there was little sympathy on Sunday as Patronato secured the win needed to confirm Arsenal’s relegation and with the Superliga intent on reducing numbers in the top flight, a route back will be tough.
Round 21 results
Huracán 1-1 Banfield
Belgrano 2-2 Racing Club
Vélez 3-3 Estudiantes
Newell’s 2-1 Tigre
Gimnasia 1-3 Argentinos Juniors
Unión 1-1 San Martín
Independiente 0-2 Atlético Tucumán
Defensa y Justicia 1-3 River Plate
Chacarita Juniors 2-2 Arsenal
Patronato 3-0 Rosario Central
Boca Juniors 2-1 Talleres
Lanús 0-2 San Lorenzo
Olimpo 1-1 Temperley
Godoy Cruz 2-1 Colón
— Superliga Argentina (@argsaf) April 3, 2018