Team of the Season
Head and shoulders above the rest, Newell’s Old Boys were not only the best team in Argentina but also the most enjoyable to watch. Twelve wins, scoring more goals than anyone else (40 in 19 games) and regularly bossing the possession stats, La Lepra won the league with verve and panache whilst simultaneously reaching the Libertadores semi-finals, beating compatriots Velez and Boca along the way. All in all, a thoroughly deserved title.
Golazo of the season
A stunning strike from Wilfredo Olivera for Quilmes against Argentinos Juniors was the pick of the bunch. The centre back collected a half cleared corner just inside the opposition half and from the edge of the centre circle unleashed a dipping long-range half volley to beat the keeper. ¡Una bomba!
Red card of the season
This season has seen its fair share of early baths but the award goes to Arsenal de Sarandi’s Pablo Luguercio. The player lashed out after Union’s Emanuel Britez had poked him in the bum before bursting into tears upon receiving his marching orders. Afterwards Britez said: “It’s just a tactic: Touching his bottom made him cross. Sure when I saw him crying I felt a bit bad. But I’d do it again”. Cheeky.
MVP / ‘Won’t be here next season’ award
Newell’s striker Ignacio Scocco has been absolutely lethal this season. Joint-top scorer last season with 13, Nacho has continued his purple patch with 11 more goals in the Torneo Final as well as five in the Libertadores and two on his Argentina debut. Capable of scoring all types of goals, he is destined for a move to a top European club.
Best / worst conspiracy
The biggest ongoing saga has easily been Independiente’s relegation battle and, as with any big club in danger of the drop, has brought out a whole host of conspiracy stories. Despite what seemed an insurmountable points tally needed at the turn of the year, stories of backstairs intrigue between among others AFA president Julio Grondona and the head of refereeing syndicate SADRA Guillermo Marconi constantly filled the sports dailies through the season. Of course, as River proved two years ago, no-one is too big to go down and el Rojo were the latest grande to suffer an almighty fall from grace.
Always reliable for a juicy soundbite, Argentinos Juniors manager Ricardo Caruso Lombardi lashed out at a perceived lack of effort from senior members of the squad, with Diego Placente singled out for particular abuse: “[Placente] is a terrible coward and an insolent brat”. Honourable mentions go to San Martin president Jorge Miadosqui for his accusatory post-match interview after a controversial loss to Rafaela and Pablo Mouche for his tweets after getting mugged in Buenos Aires, repeatedly calling Argentina a “shitty country”.
Partidazo of the season
For entertainment value alone, Newell’s 4-3 Racing was a wonderful spectacle. It had it all; seven goals, two red cards, a Luciano Vietto hat-trick and an injury time winner from Maxi Rodriguez.
Strictly speaking Boca’s defence should win this award for their shambolic capitulation 6-1 away defeat at relegation-threatened San Martin but former San Lorenzo goalkeeper Pablo Migliore gets the gong for his less than convincing plea of innocence after being accused of aiding and abetting suspected murderer and barra brava member Maxi Mazzaro. He served 40 days in jail before moving to Dinamo Zagreb.
Divine intervention award (sponsored by Pope Francis I)
When it emerged that the new Pope was a San Lorenzo fan, the Ciclon faithful could be forgiven for thinking they were in store for some timely luck. Right on cue, an eleven-match unbeaten run – including 5 wins on the bounce – in the second half of the season saw them leap up to 4th place and claim a Copa Sudamericana place.
In need of divine intervention award
Someone who could have done with some help from above was Independiente president Javier Cantero. Stricken by years of debt and corruption, Cantero has been a lone figure in the fight against the Barra Bravas but has yet to receive any real support. Coupled with Independiente’s relegation, it’s fair to say it’s not been his year.
There were some impressive youngsters who made a name for themselves but one player who really confirmed his reputation as one of the hottest talents was Racing’s forward Luciano Vietto. After the disappointment of the Sudamericano, the 19-year-old was a bright spark in a mixed campaign for Racing, scoring eight goals. Destined for bigger things.
Casual Racism of the year
After highly-rated young Colombian defender Eder Alvarez Balanta scored the winner against Godoy Cruz with his groin, Olé ran the tasteless headline ‘El mas glande sigue siendo River Plate’ – a play on the words grande (big) and glande (virile member) from the popular chant ‘River Plate is still the biggest”. Nat cool Olé, nat cool.
Good Samaritans of the season
When floods in La Plata claimed the lives of 67 people in early April, Estudiantes legend Juan Sebastian Veron and national team boss Alejandro Sabella provided a heart-warming story in the tragic aftermath of the devastation. Sabella opened up his home to the neighbourhood of Tolosa as an assistance hub while he and his wife cooked food for many people in need. Veron also helped the rescue efforts, helping save six children from the floods.
River’s left back problem seems to be finally solved after Leonel Vangioni impressed since joining from Newell’s who in turn pulled off a great bit of business by bringing in Peruvian midfielder Rinaldo Cruzado from Chievo. Luis Bolanos was also a big coup for San Martin as they mounted a late push to avoid relegation.
Some big names returned to Argentina and failed to live up to expectations. Fernando Gago was disappointing for Velez as was Juan Manuel Martinez for Boca, whose signing of Chiqui Perez also failed to pay off. Perhaps the worst though was the much maligned Juan Caicedo to Independiente, only scoring twice, both of which came in the same game.
In the Primera B game between local rivals Nueva Chicago and Almirante Brown, the Nueva Chicago fans infiltrated a transvestite dressed in the colours of Almirante to mock the opposition. Only in Argentina.
Best fan protest
As Mario Rossetto watched his beloved Argentinos Juniors go down 3-1 to Belgrano – their fifth consecutive defeat – he vented his frustration by lobbing a pair of false teeth at manager Caruso Lombardi. Dental assistant Rossetto, whose nickname is aptly ‘Tooth’, said the gesture was intended to show that the team needed more bite and more balls: “We have to ‘chew’ our way out of this situation”. Evidently he was sick to the teeth…
Mullet of the season
Retaining his crown, Tigre boss Nestor Gorosito.
NSPCA Blacklist award
It’s safe to say that Bella Vista’s Enzo Jose Jimenez will not be receiving a Christmas card from Rolf Harris this year. Up in the Tucuman province during a game between Bella Vista and San Juan, Jimenez moronically attempted to remove a stray dog from the field by grabbing the mutt by the neck and unsuccessfully lobbing him over the fence. He was sent off and later had his contract with the club rescinded. Attenborough rejoiced.
Fond farewell award
Since his return to the club at the start of 2012, Gerardo Martino has turned Newell’s from relegation candidates into title winners, as well as simultaneously reaching the Copa Libertadores semi-finals. Not only has he been successful, he has got La Lepra playing some of the best football in Argentina. Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, Tata announced that he will depart at the end of the season and his presence will be a huge loss to the Primera division. Pipped at the post, Julio Buffarini’s trimmed blonde locks will also be missed dearly.