CA Tigre v Newell’s Old Boys
It’s fitting that on a night in which the Premier League and Sky Sports contractual obligations combine to give us the meeting of Stoke and West Brom, Argentina also features a Monday Night Football contest of equal if not more insignificance. All the subtle subliminal messages in the [WATCH AND BET ON THIS MATCH – IT’S GREAT] world aren’t going to make the prospect of staying up past midnight any the more appealing.
As with the Premier League and Sky Sports’ contractual obligations, we can’t be too harsh on the Argentine League. Whilst we’d love to wolf back the wheat constantly, sometimes you’ve to gulp back a spoonful of chaff – although we’re not even sure that’s possible because we’re not sure what exactly chaff is. Given the changeable nature of the Argentine league, a relegation battle in one championship can quickly turn into a title tilt the next, Tigre and Newell’s Old Boys may yet turn into a game of some importance, but as it stands it’s one team trying to avoid the mediocrity that would see them slip into a relegation battle versus one team aiming for the upper regions of the table, but more than likely falling short into mid-table comfort.
Tonight’s hosts play the role of the kind of relegation battlers. With little in the way of pedigree, CA Tigre are one of the smaller teams in the league. Their history has been very much obscurity with occasional periods in the spotlight – think the Vanilla Ice of football clubs. They spent most of their history outside the top flight, but have made occasional extended stays in the division. They returned to the top-tier in 2007 and immediately came close to landing an unlikely league title. They again went close in 2008, but at least earned themselves their first taste of continental competition. It was a brief and not especially fulfilling taste as they lost out to San Lorenzo and didn’t even get to leave the country, let alone city of Buenos Aires. Under the guidance of former Villarreal defender Rodolfo Arruabarrena, they haven’t made a good start to the Clausura championship and relegation remains a possibility. In Argentina, relegation is worked out as an average over three seasons – which at two championships a season, is 6 league campaigns – and a recent downturn in form has seen their average dip to a point where they’re hovering above the cut-off point.
Newell’s Old Boys have been more successful down through they years, but are possibly most famous to the wider world for being the club with the letters NOB emblazoned across their crest. As the name suggests, they were named in honour of a famous Newell. Although 30 odd goals in 130 odd games for Blackburn and a one man quest to destroy ‘bung’ culture among managers are very laudable achievements – it’s not Mike. Isaac Newell was born in Strood, Kent and liked the place so much he left at a young age for Argentina. Once he set up a college and it was there he spread the wonderful gospel of athleticism, money-grabbing and shagging glamour models we now know as football. Despite the history associated with the club, the trophy cabinet is on the bare side with just five league titles in over a century of trying. They have been very close in recent times, but generally all they’ve earned is a round of giggles every time someone sees the crest. Speaking of the burden of history, Nestor Sensini is probably most famous for doing the perhaps only thing of note in the final of the 1990 World Cup. He took down Rudi Voller to give away the penalty which Andreas Brehme converted to hand Germany their third World Cup and – more importantly – spared us the tedium of another half an hour of dull football. His attempts to get that monkey of his back by putting together a glittering managerial career didn’t get off to a murky 5 week spell in charge of Udinese a few years back, but he has since returned home. A second place finish in the Apertura of 2009 was a hint success may be on the cards, but he hasn’t really built on it since, settling for a few places closer to the comfortable mid-part of the league.