If River Plate Goes Under…

26 Jun

Today is a huge day for Argentine soccer. Even though the season has ended, the battles go on because of a playoff system designed to bring the two worst teams in the Premier League down to the B League, and the two best teams in the B League to the Premier League. This is how the system works in Argentina, but instead of the current season mattering only, it also is aggregate and the last few seasons add up points. Now, one of the best teams in the country, River Plate, is at a crossroads and needs to win today or they will be humiliatingly demoted to the B League.
River Plate and the Boca Juniors are the two most popular teams in Argentina, indisputably. River has won the championship 33 times (more than any other team) and frequently provides players for the national team. Yet the last few years have been difficult for River and Boca as well, so now in this playoff system, River is in deep trouble. They lost earlier in the week 2-0 to Belgrano, a team in the B League, and must win today with 2 goals over Belgrano or they will go down. Basically, if River wins but only 1-0, they get demoted.
As you can see, this is going to be a huge game. Problems already started last week with hooligans and supporters protesting outside of the Monumental, River’s stadium up in Nuñez. This caused huge traffic jams all the way back down past my apartment in Palermo to who knows where. It continued again Friday, and there were even some clashes. Fans were protesting the team’s bad performance, and I think everyone in the city is waiting to see just how furious they’ll get today if they don’t win.
Though I call myself a fan of Boca, I’d prefer River not fall to the B League. It’s a wonderful experience to watch a Superclasico, when River and Boca play each other twice a year. It’s like Red Sox and Yankees on crack, or maybe the U.S.S.R. vs. the U.S.A. It draws in huge amounts of money for the Argentine Football Association and is a big draw for tourism as well. This would be a mar on the league and the performance of other teams. The game starts at 3 pm in Buenos Aires, and we’ll see if the city is still standing by 6 pm.
You can read a bit more about this from the Buenos Aires Herald.

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