With just six games of the Torneo Final campaign remaining, Independiente find themselves in a real battle to stay in the division for the start of next season.
Despite claiming seven points from their previous three fixtures, time looks to have run out for Los Diablos Rojo.
Argentina’s Primera División has a very unique ruling for relegation, based on a three-year average of points per game accumulated – thus increasing the necessity for attacking football and the importance of three points over one. The points gained are divided over games played, so a newly promoted team have the opportunity to gain more points per game than a side who have played in the top flight longer.
Unión are doomed already, having almost sealed their fate in the Inicial after they gained a paltry seven points from 19 games, failing to win a match during the whole of the ‘mini-season’. Although their performances have much improved in the second half of the year, the Santa Fe side are destined to play in the Nacional B next term.
As it currently stands, second from bottom and giant-killers San Martin San Juan will be joining them. Los Verdinegro pulled off the performance of the season (and maybe the decade) after thrashing last year’s winners Boca Juniors 6-1 on their way down. Highlights of that incredible feat can be seen here.
Independiente are third from bottom. The most successful team in South America, with an almighty seven Copa Libertadores victories, will have to hope that Argentinos Juniors’ horrendous form continues for the remainder of the season (they have won just once) and ensure they continue to pick up points in the rest of their fixtures – which will not be easy to do.
Rojo started their Torneo quietly, with an unassuming 2-1 loss to a good Newell’s Old Boys side. They then won two on the bounce, including an important 2-0 win in El Clasico de Avellaneda, the derby of Avellaneda, against Racing. What next followed was a run of seven games without a win, losing four of the games, which has plunged the Buenos Aires club deep into trouble.
Quilmes’ surprisingly impressive and consistent form has lifted them to 5th in the Primera and looks to have kept them away from the real trouble at the foot of the Promiedos.
Boss Miguel Brindisi has spoken about their rivals for the drop in recent weeks and believes Quilmes will now be safe. He believes Argentinos to be their main threat for survival. Speaking about his own squad he said: “I have men. You do not see them leaving on stretchers, but despite the pain and injury, no one wants to run away from this situation”.
One glimmer of hope in a desperately disappointing season would be the performances of Paraguayan Adrian Fernandez. Despite scoring just four goals, the 20-year-old striker has alerted the attention of several teams and six-figure deals from Sol de America and Chievo have reportedly been turned down.
Similarly, Tottenham Hotspur were supposedly leading the chase for 22-year-old centreback Julian Velazquez last summer, with major clubs all across Europe courting the youngster.
We have, of course, seen similar events unfold in recent years in Argentina. Another of the ‘big five’, which includes River, Boca, Independiente, Racing and San Lorenzo, has fallen into the murky waters of the Argentine Nacional B. On that occasion it was River Plate.
Los Millionairos bounced straight back from relegation on the first occasion, winning the league, with fan favourites Fernando Cavaneghi and Alejandro Dominguez returning to the club. Also joining the club was the former World Cup winner David Trezeguet and defensive midfielder Leandro Ponzio.
River have continued their fine form and are now challenging for the title.
Independiente will hope that former favourites and current stars will help rebuild the club following relegation and then return to greatness.