When talking about the world’s most competitive leagues, the Premier League or Spain’s La Liga come to the mind of most. But, in this article, I’ll tell you why the Superliga Argentina (Argentine Super League) is among the most competitive leagues in the world.
Superliga Argentina: Football’s Most Competitive?
In Argentina, the Primera Division – as it was formerly known – contains a different amount of teams every season due to the experimental Argentine FA: there has been between 24 and 30 teams since 2016/17. Each team plays each other once, which means home advantage doesn’t necessarily average out across the season.
In the season that just finished, Boca Juniors took the trophy home by one point, which seems to be a common theme in this league. In this season alone (2019/20), three teams finished on 39 points, four teams on 36 points, and seven of those teams made up the top nine in the league. In 2018/19, the league was decided by four points and the 2017/18 season was decided by two. These margins are much closer than those in Europe.
The Argentine football schedule is very unusual, especially for the stronger sides who often compete in the Copa Libertadores or the Copa Sudamericana. Let’s look at the schedule of Boca Juniors during the 2018-19 season. The season started in August and they competed in league competition up to March. The Copa Libertadores then started with The Azul y Oro, which they traveled to Bolivia to play. This match took place on March 6, another game followed just two days later before playing another Libertadores game just two days after.
Pitch standards have been questioned on many occasions with many teams having to play on pitches that may not be up to standard. Along with the pitches come stadiums that are located well above sea level. When traveling to games in South America, you will play against teams in very remote locations and even in rainforests. During the 2019 Libertadores campaign, Boca Juniors played a game in Bolivia, where the stadium is located approximately 12,000ft above sea level, which can affect performance due to breathing difficulties.
The Copa Libertadores starts in March and the final is generally in November since the tournament was revamped from a two-legged final to a single final. The Superliga then starts in August, meaning that the new season starts while the Libertadores is still being disputed, with two cup competitions in Argentina within this period. This creates game congestion, obviously leading to fatigue.
The Argentine Fans
South American football is well-known for its fans and how they produce amazing but hostile atmospheres at their grounds, providing intimidating atmospheres for away sides. If a home team concedes a goal, the stadium is only going to get louder. Atmosphere makes a massive difference when talking about results, some players may shrink, but some may relish the opportunity. In the 2019/2020 season, eight teams had a 50% or more loss ratio while playing away from home.