The Argentine Primera División: A Season Literally of Two Halves

Ben Nancholas reports on 'one of the craziest leagues in the world'...

The classic home and away round robin European style season with standard relegation for the bottom few teams that is used in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and most of the other major European leagues is considered the norm .

However the Primera División of Argentina has its own very 'unique' system which makes it arguably one of the most exciting but definately the most craziest of leagues in world football.

Since the start of the 2012-2013 season the Torneo Apertura and Clausura became 'Torneo Inicial' and 'Torneo Final', if you are familiar with the Primera División then the new system does resembles the 'Apertura' and 'Clasura' championship of old which proclaimed two champions respectively.

However this season at the end of both tournaments, the winners of Inicial and Final tournaments play an exciting match to determine the champion of the season.

Within each Torneo each team only plays each other once which results in some high paced, high class football as every point counts none more so then in a relegation scrap where the system becomes somewhat confusing. 

The "promedios" (points averaging) system is used in Argentina and most of the other South American leagues to determine relegation. A team's standing in the relegation table is determined by dividing the number of points obtained over the previous three seasons by the number of games played over the last three seasons.

This means that at the end of the season most teams have their points tally divided by 114 (3 x 38 game seasons) with the exception of promoted teams who have their smaller points tallies divided by the fewer games that they have played.

The benchmark for survival is usually around 1.2 points per game. This system does produce some unusual outcomes non more so then the relegation of Cordoba, despite managing a 3rd place finish in the Clasura their performance in the Apertura was far less impressive and their points average was not enough to keep them up.

The promedios system is notoriously hard on newly promoted sides because the majority of the established sides have a bank account of points to boost their average if they have a fairly poor season. Many critics claim that this effect is exactly the reason it was introduced in an attempt to preserve the more established and 'bigger' teams in the first place. However this was not enough to save River Plate who have won 33 league titles, from relegation in the 2010-2011 season.

Currently River Plate, back promoted, lie in 2nd place joint top with Lanus whereas Boca find themselves in a disapointing 12th place after 9 games. However things change quickly in the Primera Divison as the new format provides excitement in every game as every point is crucial, and with the likes of David Trezeguet gracing the field it makes for compulsive viewing.

image: © DanielHP

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