The blue and red halves of Avellaneda were left feeling thoroughly deflated after disappointing 2016’s but changes of management have sparked upturns in form for both Racing Club and Independiente and the two Grandes are now starting to dream big again.
Three straight defeats at the end of the year signaled the end for Ricardo Zielinski at Racing after it had begun to look like the job was a little too big for the typically cautious, ‘small’ club coach and ushered back in at the Cilindro was Diego Cocca, who had only left the club at the end of 2015 but crucially was the man that brought the title to Avellaneda a year earlier.
That title-winning side was spearheaded by the experience and excellence of Champions League winner Diego Milito but Gustavo Bou proved a worthy foil and since El Principe has retired, it is El Pantera, who Racing now look to for inspiration.
Defensively Cocca still has a lot to do but going forward it is as if the handbrake has been taken off and Saturday’s thrilling 4-3 win over Atletico Tucuman exemplified this. Five straight wins for Racing and fifteen goals scored, close to 40% of their season tally, have put La Academia right back in the title mix and supporters have been quick to point out that the six-point deficit they currently trail by is less than that of the 2014 title winning season.