Argentina · Copa Libertadores

The decline of Argentine football

The poor performance of Argentine clubs in this year’s Copa Libertadores is just another example of mismanagement on the part of the administrations of those institutions. River Plate is an excellent example of that, though San Lorenzo is quickly reaching the same lows. Independiente is struggling as well now. Racing is ALWAYS struggling administratively.

I would love to see some of the smaller teams take up the torch in Argentina. Lanús and Tigre are good, solid sides, but the Copa requires a different playing style than the national league. I think what those teams need to do is find a championship where they can sacrifice performance in the Primera. Lanús surely has generated enough good results over the last few years that their Promedio (Average, teams are relegated based on average points for the last three years rather than a single season) should be able to take the hit).

The Copa also requires a more conservative mindset, making your home ground count and going to other countries looking to snatch a point or three, but always making sure your net stays as empty as possible.

I think this year may be a bit of a blip (Boca notwithstanding) and we’ll see a resurgence of Argentine teams as they sort our internal issues. There’s a plenty large enough talent pool for them to succeed.

I would never say that Argentine clubs are run more poorly than clubs elsewhere in Latin America. It is, unfortunately, an epidemic that affects a large number of sporting and non-sporting institutions in the region.

The difference now is that it has become an even bigger problem for some of the larger clubs in Argentina, who traditionally go far in the Libertadores. River Plate is probably the best example. River was a semifinalist 5 years ago. Since then, the club has been in decline and player sales/purchases don’t seem to follow any real logic or consistent plan. Add to that the barrabrava civil war that unleashed itself on the club in 2007 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Borrachos_del_Tablon) and it has become an institution in dire need of a major change.

The league proves that there is plenty of talent, Boca are by no means runaway leaders, and are struggling a bit at the moment. I believe that what Boca does well is that:

1. They make their home field count. You don’t go to the Bombonera expecting to win;
2. They understand how to play the Libertadores and that you can’t play in the Cup the same way you do in the league;
3.  They have the resources to keep more than 11 first-team players on the roster so that they can rotate their squad);
and, it must be said …
4. Juán Román Riquelme. Without him, Boca don’t get anywhere near the final in the last few years.

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