Our man in the Nacional B, Darren Paul returns to give us the low-down on this season’s race to reach the top flight.
The long summer wait is over and us in the Northern Hemisphere can enjoy the impending autumn and winter secure in the knowledge that the world’s best second division is back for another season of drama and excitement.
The Primera B Nacional returned Friday with 25 teams vying for the one automatic promotion position, one of the eight playoff berths or at least to avoid one of the SIX relegation positions! The promedios system will be used to decide relegation as is tradition, a terrible tradition that can rob fans of meaningful drama and punish sides for having too many mediocre seasons. The SIX relegated sides will find themselves in the B Metropolitano or the Federal A depending on their geography.
This season teams will face each other just once to decide the final league standings and the eventual champion, before the Playoffs get underway. Each round one team will have a week off, a bye week. Round one it is new boys Agropecuario who get to rest before their fight for survival begins.
New to the Primera B Nacional this season are four sides relegated from the top flight, newly rebranded as the Superliga. Aldosivi, Atlético de Rafaela, Quilmes and Sarmiento all dropped out the top division last season but will all have a quick return in their sights, a task much easier said than done.
Promoted last season from the Primera B Metropolitana were Champions Deportivo Morón and playoff champions Deportivo Riestra. Promoted from Federal A are Club Agropecuario Argentino, a club launched by a Soybean magnate just six years ago. Agropecuario were victorious in the Championship stage whilst Club Atlético Mitre had to go the very long way round to achieve their promotion, a victory on penalties over Gimnasia y Esgrima de Mendoza.
The compressed nature of the league this season coupled with the SIX relegation places mean that every team will be looking to hit the ground running and get wins early. Last season was a marathon. This season is a sprint.
The Primera B Nacional is a difficult league to predict, but there are a number of teams to look out for. The four sides relegated from the top flight will want an immediate promotion, and of the four I would expect Aldosivi to ultimately win the championship. From the sides in the top flight last season the most interesting story will be Brown de Puerto Madryn, the Patagonian outfit missing out on promotion on the last day of last season. How they bounce back will remain to be seen, but this season’s format will offer them a fantastic chance to excise the demons of last season.
At the wrong end of the table Boca Unidos will be the most interesting team to watch as they managed to put together some half decent performances at the end of the season to prevent relegation and start this season in a dangerous 16th place in Promedios. However, Boca Unidos were incredibly poor last season and without Promedios would have been relegated. Boca need a much better season if they hope to stay up and that will require them to score goals. Last season Boca scored 42 goals in 44 games, that won’t be enough this time around.
Deportivo Riestra will start the season as relegation certainties starting with minus 20 points. Riestra have had a points deduction following the second leg of the promotion final in which a small portion of their fans stormed the pitch as the game went into injury time. The fans remained on the field as players argued as the referee was hounded by men in suits before he just threw up his hands and ended the game sending the Riestra players sprinting towards their goal and being mobbed by jubilant fans.
The jubilation at their promotion will have lasted until the referee’s report was read by the AFA who imposed the incredible 20 points deduction. The view of the referee and of the AFA is that the fans entered play with the express intention of disrupting the game forcing the referee to call an end to the game. The 20 points penalty is very heavy, but in this instance is fair. The club and their fans are being heavily punished for the actions of a small element of fans and the players will have their work cut out to survive in the division. If their fans would have stayed where they belong, on the sidelines, until the final whistle their players wouldn’t have this millstone around their necks.
Hopefully the fans of all clubs can keep their heads this season and prevent a repeat of the ugly scenes that have hindered Riestra and would hinder other clubs.
The 2017-18 Primera B Nacional season is set to be a classic, with plenty to play for and plenty at stake for all clubs. You will be able to watch most of the games live on Youtube thanks to TYCSports Play and read weekly roundups here on Golazo Argentino.
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.