Published on May 15th, 2018 | by Peter Coates0
Argentina Superliga wraps up with Copa Libertadores cop-out from chasing pack
Argentina’s Superliga wrapped up this weekend in time for the World Cup and while the destination of the title and the relegated sides were already decided, the final weekend did tie up the loose ends.
It may have been more of a stumble over the line but Boca Juniors have been top of the pile for more than a year and are worthy champions of Argentina once again.
No side have won back-to-back titles for twelve years and while the longer format of the Superliga certainly gives an advantage to the grandes, Boca have risen above.
Manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto remains in a slightly precarious place due to his side’s Copa Libertadores position but in Cristian Pavón, Wilmar Barrios and Darío Benedetto, Boca had the individual talent to bail them out when needed.
Godoy Cruz sealed their place in the Libertadores with a historic second-placed finish and will be cursing the re-introduction of the longer tournament as El Tomba were by some distance the best side in 2018 – one defeat and two points dropped from the final ten fixtures.
San Lorenzo weren’t as impressive but battled their way to third and it appeared as no one wanted to claim the final two spots.
Four sides had the chance to claim Libertadores football over the final round but with Huracán drawing with Boca, Talleres only taking a point away to Olimpo, Independiente losing to Unión and Racing Club suffering defeat to Colón, all looked to have fluffed their chance.
Results meant Huracán and Talleres will be the somewhat unlikely representatives in 2019 after superb campaigns.
Independiente’s and Racing’s failures meant they took two of the Copa Sudamericana spots and they will be joined by (unless of course either win this year’s Libertadores or the Copa Argentina) River Plate, who enjoyed a tremendous resurgence in 2018 thanks in part to the goalkeeping excellence of Franco Armani.
#TNTSports | ¿Es un pájaro 🦅? ¿Es un avión ✈? No: ¡¡¡Es Armani!!! Impresionante atajada del 1 de #River que justifica su convocatoria a la lista de 35 para el Mundial de Rusia.
#River 🆚 #SanLorenzo pic.twitter.com/iEMS9645fD
— TNT Sports LA (@TNTSportsLA) May 15, 2018
Superliga giant killers Defensa y Justicia, Unión, after their last day win over Independiente and Colón, who defeated Racing to nick plucky Argentinos Juniors’ spot, join them.
In the least dramatic relegation battle ever, all four teams spent the entire season in the relegation zone and deservedly slipped into the B Nacional.
Chacarita Juniors were going straight back after only one season while Arsenal, Temperley and Olimpo have all been flirting with danger for the past few seasons.
Aldosivi and one other are already confirmed to be on their way up as the Superliga is reduced once again to 26 teams for next season.
Player of the season
While the performances of World Cup-bound Cristian Pavón, Belgrano’s defensive rock Cristian Lema and Huracán’s talented Ignacio Pussetto all had terrific campaigns, the goals of Santiago Garcia almost fired Godoy Cruz to the title.
They would have done if the top flight was still split into two tournaments. Garcia ended the season as the top scorer, with seventeen goals – nine coming in the last seven games and while the Uruguayan won’t be heading to Russia, he is one for the Celeste to look at going forward.
Manager of the season
Credit to Gustavo Alfaro for steering Huracán so far away from relegation trouble that they ended in the Libertadores and Frank Kudelka, who earned his reward for an outstanding campaign with Talleres after securing fifth.
Juan Pablo Vojvoda deserves praise for how his Defensa y Justicia performed but Diego Dabove’s job at Godoy Cruz was truly incredible. El Tomba had won only once away from Mendoza when the 45-year-old took over and then put together a run which could have ended with the title had the season gone on a little longer.
Goal of the season
There were a number of great goals this season but none come close to Ignacio Scocco’s individual effort against Olimpo. The defending might be why the Aurinegro will be playing in the B Nacional last season but Sunderland fans might be asking who is this Scocco chap?