Darren Paul (@AuedsTouch) returns with a round-up of the final day of Nacional B action…
Round 46 of the Argentine Primera B has concluded, bringing down the curtain on an exciting season in the second division. Heading into the final round there were relegation and promotion battles left to be decided, with both Chacarita Juniors and Guillermo Brown in the running for the second promotion spot, behind champions Argentinos Juniors.
Brown entered the weekend needing a win and hoping that Argentinos would do them a favour and beat Chacarita Juniors, to see the Patagonians gain promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history. Brown hosted Boca Unidos, who despite spending much of the season in the bottom four, have had a decent final run in which has secured their safety in the second division for another year.
Chacarita hosted league champions Argentinos Juniors and were trailing 1-0 after 26 minutes. Javier Cabrera slotted home a neat finish from the edge of the area after a pass ricocheted perfectly into his path. Ten minutes later Argentinos stopper Chaves brought down Nicolas Oroz who was alone in the area. The league’s leading scorer Rodrigo Salinas stepped up and buried his 30th goal of the season sending the Chacarita crowd wild and his club just an hour away from the top flight.
Guillermo Brown fought long and hard against the tough Boca Unidos as fans across Argentina watched the two fixtures side-by-side and Chacarita fans at the stadium clutched their phones with eyes fixed on the events in Puerto Madryn. Moments after the final whistle sounded in Patagonia an eruption of noise sounded in San Martin as confirmation came through that Chacarita Juniors had done enough and would be playing in the Primera Division next season.
Fireworks could be heard as the Chacarita fans danced, sang and hugged in the stands as did the players on the field, whereas down in Puerto Madryn the realization that Guillermo Brown had failed to make history sunk in as the dejected players left the field with another season in the second division ahead of them, despite a fantastic campaign that saw them in second position for much of the season. They had been held 0-0 against the 20th placed team in the league and missed promotion by two points.
At the other end of the table relegations were being decided via the promedios, the system by which a team’s last three seasons’ worth of points are divided by games played. The final relegation spot was going to be occupied by 14th placed Central Cordoba or 17th placed Estudiantes, both sides having struggled in the 2016 season, sat 20th and 21st in the Promedios before the final round.
Central Cordoba and Estudiantes were entering the final round having played 106 games, with Estudiantes having a 3 point advantage, giving them the best chance at retaining their Primera B status for another season. Central Cordoba needed a win and Estudiantes to lose in order to force a playoff for survival.
Both fixtures left it late for the real drama to start. All Boys took a 1-0 lead over Central Cordoba, at home, on the 70th minute before Vera Oviedo levelled the score on the 84th minute. Cordoba were back in the game for just two minutes when Garcia made it 2-1 to All Boys. Cordoba’s fate was all but settled when Moreria Aldana scored an 87th minute penalty for Estudiantes at home to Los Andes. Los Andes equalised a minute later through Levato but the damage for Cordoba was already done, they were relegated just 0.037 points per game behind Estudiantes, despite having a better season.
Douglas Haig, Crucero del Norte and Atletico Parana are the other teams relegated from the Primera B this season, descending to either B Metropolitano or Federal A depending on their geography and of them only Douglas Haig can feel burned by the promedios formate. Parana and Crucero have both had awful seasons with 39 and 37 points from 44 fixtures respectively. Douglas Haig, whilst having a poor year, finished outside of the bottom four, with Boca Unidos 3 points behind them, who were saved thanks to a strong 2016 season.
The promedios system is likely to be abolished for the 2017/18 championship and that is a great thing for Argentine football. A hugely exciting and straightforward relegation race could have been had with a traditional system, instead a confusing system punished a mid table side for a poor season the year before.
2016-17 has been a fantastic season for the Argentine Primera B. Week in week out there have been fantastic games, with high scoring and exciting encounters throughout the league. It is a shame that only two teams could be promoted as Argentinos, worthy champions, Chacarita and Brown have been a step above the competition all year long. Argentinos and Chacarita will have a tough battle ahead of them next season in the Primera, but for now they can rightly celebrate their fantastic achievements.
Darren Paul is a UK based fan of Racing Club, most frequently found waxing lyrical about the first touch of Luciano Aued on a Saturday night. Fan of all tiers, all genders, all forms of the Argentine domestic game.