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The Primera División ( ) is the top level of Argentinemarker football league, and is organized by the Argentine Football Associationmarker. Founded in 1893, it is currently composed of 20 teams.

The Argentine league is regarded as one of the strongest leagues in the football world. Teams from Argentina have won the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and the now defunct Intercontinental Cup more than any other country.

The 2009 Clausura, the most recent tournament, was won by Vélez Sársfield. River Plate is the most successful club in the league's history with 33 championships.

Format

The 20 teams play two single round-robin tournaments each year: the Clausura, from February to June, and the Apertura, from August to December. Thus, there are two champions each season. Unlike most European countries, Argentina has no official cup competition.

The names of the tournaments, "Clausura", literally means Closing, and "Apertura", literally means Opening, reflect Northern Hemispheremarker sports seasons. This scheme was introduced in 1990 to replace the austral season, and was at the time alien to Argentines — who live in the Southern Hemispheremarker and are used to sports seasons that span a single calendar year (for example 2004, as opposed to 2004/05). Since then, many South and Central American leagues adopted the format, including Uruguay, Mexico and Chile, although Uruguay is to return to austral season in 2009.

2009-10 teams



Relegation and promotion

Relegation is based on an averaging system. At the end of each season, the two teams with the worst three-year averages are relegated, and the best two teams in the second division are promoted. The teams placed 17th and 18th in the averages table play the "promoción", a promotion and relegation playoff, against the 4th and 3rd second division teams respectively in a two-leg format decided on aggregate goals, but without the away goals rule. In case of a tie, each goes back to its league of origin. Thus, the number of teams promoted each year varies between two and four. Newly-promoted teams only average the seasons since their last promotion.

Averaging was instituted in 1983, two years after San Lorenzo de Almagro were relegated in 1981. That year, River Plate finished 18th out of 19 teams and would have been relegated under the old system. Racing Clubmarker and Nueva Chicago were the first teams to be relegated on average. Boca Juniors was also struggling at that time and had a dismal 1984 season. These facts have led some to speculate that the averaging system was instituted to minimize the chance of large clubs being relegated, and indeed none of the five clubs considered to be the largest has been relegated again after 1983.

International competitions

Traditionally, two teams from Argentina have played in the Copa Libertadores each year. Since 1987, CONMEBOL has arranged other competitions, originally the now-extinct Supercopa, then Copa CONMEBOL, and lastly Copa Mercosur, all replaced by the Copa Sudamericana now. The number of Argentine teams playing the Libertadores has also gone up to five. Thus, at least five teams have an international schedule in addition to their league commitments.

Owing to the outstanding performance of Argentine clubs in international competitions, like having won the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and now defunct Intercontinental Cup for the largest number of times, Primera División is often considered one of the strongest leagues in the world. For example, it is consistently included in the top five or top ten strongest leagues in the world by International Federation of Football History and Statistics.

Copa Libertadores

For details of the past qualifying methods of Copa Libertadores, see Qualifying method of Copa Libertadores in Argentina
Historically, the results of the previous season determine the participation in these international competitions. The places of Copa Libertadores are allocated to the champions of Apertura and Clausura of the previous season, as well as the three best teams which have gained the highest number of points considering the combined talbe of Apertura and Clausura, besides the two champions. For example, Copa Libertadores 2008 was represented by Apertura 2006 champion Estudiantes, Clausura 2007 champion San Lorenzo, and the three best placed teams in the combined table of Apertura 2006 and Clausura 2007. Though Apertura 2007 was held much closer to Copa Libertadores 2008, the champion of Apertura 2007 cannot get the place because Apertura 2007 was considered to be the same season of Copa Libertadores 2008. So, champions of the Apertura have to wait for more than a year to play in the Copa Libertadores.

For Copa Libertadores 2009, the qualification criteria are changed. The champions of previous season's Apertura and Clausura, and the Apertura of the same season are also eligible to play in Copa Libertadores. The remaining two places are filled by the best two teams in the combined table of these three tournaments. For example, Copa Libertadores 2009 would be represented by the Apertura 2007 champion, Clausura 2008 champion and also Apertura 2008 champion. The remaining places are allocated to the two teams having the highest points in the combined talbe of these three tournaments. The Argentine Football Association has not announced the qualification arrangement beyond 2009. However, it is believed that teams will qualify to the tournament according to the results of Clausura and Apertura of the year before. For example, those five teams having the most points in the combined table of Clausura 2009 and Apertura 2009 would qualify to Copa Libertadores 2010.

The Copa Libertadores remains the most prestigious competition in South America, and the Primera División Argentina was the most successful league in the cup's history, having won the competition for 21 times ; Independiente has a record seven wins, followed by Boca with six, Estudiantes with four, River Plate with two, and Racing Clubmarker, Argentinos Juniorsmarker and Vélez Sársfield with one apiece.

Copa Sudamericana

For Copa Sudamericana, Boca Juniors and River Plate have been joining the cup every season regardless of their position in the Primera División, by invitation from CONMEBOL. Besides, the four best placed teams from the combined points totals in the previous season's Apertura and Clausura would also qualify to the tournament. However, starting in 2010, there will be no more invitations, and the six best placed teams of the season will be joining the cup, even when these do not include Boca Juniors or River Plate.

As three of five places of Copa Libertadores are also allocated according to the combined table, teams can qualify to both Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana through the same mechanism and Argentina teams in these two tournament are usually highly overlapped. For example, Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, Banfield and Vélez Sársfield qualified to both Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana owing to their results in the aggregate table in season 2005/06.

The Primera División Argentina is the most successful league in this competition, having won the trophy four times since its inception in 2002.

History

Amateur era (1891-1931)

In 1891 Argentina was the first country outside the United Kingdommarker to establish a football league. During the amateur era Alumni Athletic Club were the most successful team, with 10 championships (one under the name English High School).

Professional era (1931-1966)

Professionalism was instituted in 1931. In the early years, only teams from Buenos Airesmarker, Greater Buenos Aires (notably Avellanedamarker) and La Platamarker were affiliated to the national association. Teams from Rosariomarker and Santa Fé joined in later years.

A single double round-robin tournament was played each year, and the team with the most points was crowned as champion, except for 1936, during that year the winners of Copa de Honor and the Campeonato played a match for the championship title. The single tournament arrangement lasted until 1966.

During this period, the traditional "big five" clubs, namely, Boca Juniors, River Plate, Independiente, Racingmarker and San Lorenzo dominated Argentine football. No any team besides them had won the league championship in these 36 years. The most serious title challenge came from Banfield in 1951, when they gained the same points with Racing Club in the league table. However, they lost 1-0 in the two-legged first place playoffs and gave the title to Racing.

The Metropolitano and Nacional (1967-1985)

In 1967, the single tournament format was abandoned and replaced by two championships in each year: the Metropolitano and the Nacional. The Metropolitano only allowed clubs competing the old tournament to participate, while the Nacional was open to teams from regional tournament. The format of competition was also altered, with the double round-robin tournament be placed by the two-group championship Metropolitano and single round-robin Nacional in that year.

This change brought about a revolution in Argentine football, as small teams, like Estudiantes de La Plata at first, and Vélez Sársfield, Chacarita Juniors and others in later years, broke down the hegemony of the five clubs who had won all the championships up to that date.

1967-1969

The Metropolitano and Nacional had gone through several format changes throughout the period. In the first three years, the Metropolitano was a two-group championship, with the best two teams from each group competing the semi-finals of the knock-out stage.

The six best teams of each group would advance to the Nacional, with four more teams coming from regional tournaments, to compete for the Nacional championship in a single round-robin format. The seventh and eighth team of each group, alongside four teams from regional tournaments, played the Promocional tournament, which, in 1969, was replaced by the Petit tournament contested without regional teams.The ninth to twelfth teams of each group entered the Reclasificatorio tournament to determine the relegating teams.

1970-1985

In 1970, the format of the Metropolitano and Nacional underwent a reform. Since that year, and until 1985, the Nacional had become a group tournament with playoffs, while the Metropolitano had been competed under a single or double round-robin system, except for the 1974, 1976 and 1979 edition, which were also contested as a group tournament with playoffs.

Despite the format change in 1970, teams still entered the Nacional championship, Petit tournament and Reclasificatorio tournament according to their rankings in the Metropolitano in that year. However, in 1971, the tournaments were separated. Teams did not enter the Nacional by finishing at the top ranks of Metropolitano. On the other hand, the Petit tournament and Reclasificatorio tournament were abandoned. The Metropolitano and Nacional became two truly individual tournaments. Although the old system was reused in 1972, the separation was instituted again in 1973 and was adopted throughout the remaining Metropolitano and Nacional era.

The Metropolitano was always played first, until the order of the tournaments was reversed in 1982.

European-styled seasons (1985-1991)

Following the advice of Argentina national football team's then coach Carlos Salvador Bilardo, the structure of play was modified in 1985. Traditionally, like other countries in Southern Hemisphere, football season began and ended according to the calendar year. However, upon the reform, European style season was adopted for the first time among all the South American countries. Moreover, instead of holding two championships every year, only one double round-robin tournament was contested, like football leagues in Europe. The team topping the table at the end of season was crowned the champion.

In 1985, after the Nacional was played, the Metropolitano was not held, while the new single tournament (1985/86) was played for the first time.

In 1988/89 season, three points were given to match winners. If a draw occurred, penalty shootout was taken place and the winner of the shootout would get two points while the loser still had one. This format was waived in the following season.

Apertura and Clausura (1991-present)

Five years later, the single championship was split into two single-round tournaments, giving birth to the current Apertura and Clausura arrangement. In 1991 the two champions played winner-take-all matches. This practice was very controversial, especially since one of the biggest teams Boca Juniors lost the finals against Newell's Old Boys, costing them their first official championship since 1981 despite an unbeaten run in the Clausura. In 1992 the game was held as well (This time between Newell's Old Boys and River Plate), but regardless of the result (which favored River Plate) both teams were awarded the title of Champion. After 1992, the practice was quickly abandoned, so that two champions (on equal footing) are crowned every season and no deciding game is played.

Originally, two points were given to match winners except the 1989/90 season. In 1995/96, the rule was changed and three points were given for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss since then.

Even though the current structure provides provincial teams a road to promotion, teams from the Buenos Aires-Rosario axis still dominate. Only one team from outside this axis has ever won a title (Estudiantes LP, 4 times), and a reversal of this trend is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future.

Professional era champions

For Amateur Era champions see Champions 1891-1930
Season First Place Second Place Third Place
1931 Boca Juniors (50) San Lorenzo de Almagro (45) Estudiantes de La Plata (44)
1932 River Plate (50) Independiente (50) Racingmarker (49)
1933 San Lorenzo de Almagro (50) Boca Juniors (49) Racingmarker (48)
1934 Boca Juniors (55) Independiente (54) San Lorenzo de Almagro (51)
1935 Boca Juniors (58) Independiente (55) San Lorenzo de Almagro (49)
1936 River Plate San Lorenzo de Almagro Racingmarker
1937 River Plate (58) Independiente (52) Boca Juniors (45)
1938 Independiente (53) River Plate (51) San Lorenzo de Almagro (43)
1939 Independiente (56) River Plate (50) Huracán (50)
1940 Boca Juniors (55) Independiente (47) River Plate (42)
1941 River Plate (44) San Lorenzo de Almagro (40) Newell's Old Boys (38)
1942 River Plate (46) San Lorenzo de Almagro (40) Huracán (37)
1943 Boca Juniors (45) River Plate (44) San Lorenzo de Almagro (35)
1944 Boca Juniors (46) River Plate (44) Estudiantes de La Plata (39)
1945 River Plate (46) Boca Juniors (42) Independiente (41)
1946 San Lorenzo de Almagro (46) Boca Juniors (42) River Plate (41)
1947 River Plate (48) Boca Juniors (42) Independiente (41)
1948 Independiente (41) River Plate (37) Estudiantes de La Plata (36)
1949 Racingmarker (49) River Plate (43) Platense (43)
1950 Racingmarker (47) Boca Juniors (39) Independiente (39)
1951 Racingmarker (44) Banfield (44) River Plate (43)
1952 River Plate (40) Racingmarker (39) Independiente (35)
1953 River Plate (43) Vélez Sársfield (39) Racingmarker (39)
1954 Boca Juniors (45) Independiente (41) River Plate (38)
1955 River Plate (45) Racingmarker (38) Boca Juniors (37)
1956 River Plate (43) Lanús (41) Boca Juniors (40)
1957 River Plate (46) San Lorenzo de Almagro (38) Racingmarker (36)
1958 Racingmarker (41) Boca Juniors (38) San Lorenzo de Almagro (38)
1959 San Lorenzo de Almagro (45) Racingmarker (38) Independiente (33)
1960 Independiente (41) River Plate (39) Argentinos Juniorsmarker (39)
1961 Racingmarker (47) San Lorenzo de Almagro (49) River Plate (38)
1962 Boca Juniors (43) River Plate (41) Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata (38)
1963 Independiente (37) River Plate (35) Racingmarker (39)
1964 Boca Juniors (44) Independiente (38) River Plate (37)
1965 Boca Juniors (50) River Plate (49) Vélez Sársfield (40)
1966 Racingmarker (61) River Plate (56) Boca Juniors (48)
Metropolitano and National seasons
Season Metropolitan champion Runner-up Third place National champion Runner-up Third place
1967 Estudiantes de La Plata Racingmarker Platense
Independiente
Independiente (26) Estudiantes de La Plata (24) Vélez Sársfield (20)
1968 San Lorenzo Estudiantes de La Plata Vélez Sársfield
River Plate
Vélez Sársfield (22) River Plate (22) Racingmarker (22)
1969 Chacarita Juniors River Plate Racingmarker
Boca Juniors
Boca Juniors (29) River Plate (27) San Lorenzo (27)
1970 Independiente (27) River Plate (27) San Lorenzo (25) Boca Juniors Rosario Central Chacarita Juniors
Gimnasia y Esgrima LP
1971 Independiente (50) Vélez Sársfield (49) Chacarita Juniors (46) Rosario Central San Lorenzo Independiente
Newell's Old Boys
1972 San Lorenzo (49) Racingmarker (43) Huracán (40) San Lorenzo River Plate Boca Juniors
1973 Huracán (46) Boca Juniors (42) San Lorenzo (40) Rosario Central River Plate Atlanta
1974 Newell's Old Boys Rosario Central Boca Juniors San Lorenzo Rosario Central Vélez Sársfield
1975 River Plate (55) Huracán (51) Boca Juniors (50) River Plate Estudiantes de La Plata San Lorenzo
1976 Boca Juniors Huracán Estudiantes de La Plata Boca Juniors River Plate Huracán
Talleres
1977 River Plate (63) Independiente (61) Vélez Sársfield (56) Independiente Talleres Estudiantes de La Plata
Newell's Old Boys
1978 Quilmes (54) Boca Juniors (53) Unión (52) Independiente River Plate Unión
Talleres
1979 River Plate Vélez Sársfield Rosario Central
Independiente
River Plate Unión Rosario Central
Atlético Tucumán
1980 River Plate (51) Argentinos Juniorsmarker (42) Talleres (41) Rosario Central Racing de Córdoba Newell's Old Boys
Independiente
1981 Boca Juniors (50) Ferro Carril Oeste (49) Newell's Old Boys (39) River Plate Ferro Carril Oeste Independiente
Vélez Sársfield
1982 Ferro Carril Oeste Quilmes Talleres
Estudiantes de La Plata
Estudiantes de La Plata (54) Independiente (52) Boca Juniors (48)
1983 Independiente (48) San Lorenzo (47) Ferro Carril Oeste (46) Estudiantes de La Plata Independiente Argentinos Juniorsmarker
Temperley
1984 Argentinos Juniorsmarker (51) Ferro Carril Oeste (50) Estudiantes de La Plata (48) Ferro Carril Oeste River Plate San Lorenzo
Talleres
1985
Not played
Argentinos Juniorsmarker Vélez Sársfield River Plate
European-styled seasons
Season First Place Second Place Third Place
1985–86 River Plate (56) Newell's Old Boys (46) Deportivo Español (46)
1986–87 Rosario Central (49) Newell's Old Boys (48) Independiente (47)
1987–88 Newell's Old Boys (55) San Lorenzo de Almagro (49) Racingmarker (48)
1988–89 Independiente (84) Boca Juniors (76) Deportivo Español (68)
1989–90 River Plate (53) Independiente (46) Boca Juniors (43)
1990–91 Newell's Old Boys Boca Juniors
Apertura and Clausura seasons
Season Apertura champion Runner-up Third place Clausura champion Runner-up Third place
1991–92 River Plate (31) Boca Juniors (24) San Lorenzo (22) Newell's Old Boys (29) Vélez Sársfield (27) Deportivo Español (27)
1992–93 Boca Juniors (27) River Plate (23) San Lorenzo (23) Vélez Sársfield (27) Independiente (24) River Plate (23)
1993–94 River Plate (24) Vélez Sársfield (23) Racingmarker (23) Independiente (26) Huracán (25) Rosario Central (23)
1994–95 River Plate (31) San Lorenzo de Almagro (26) Vélez Sársfield (24) San Lorenzo (30) Gimnasia y Esgrima LP (29) Vélez Sársfield (28)
1995–96 Vélez Sársfield (41) Racingmarker (35) Lanús (35) Vélez Sársfield (40) Gimnasia y Esgrima LP (39) Lanús (34)
1996–97 River Plate (46) Independiente (37) Lanús (37) River Plate (41) Colón (35) Newell's Old Boys (35)
1997–98 River Plate (45) Boca Juniors(44) Rosario Central (35) Vélez Sársfield (46) Lanús (40) Gimnasia y Esgrima LP (37)
1998–99 Boca Juniors (45) Gimnasia y Esgrima LP (36) Racingmarker (33) Boca Juniors (44) River Plate (37) San Lorenzo (36)
1999–00 River Plate (44) Rosario Central (43) Boca Juniors (41) River Plate (42) Independiente (36) Colón (36)
2000–01 Boca Juniors (41) River Plate (37) Gimnasia y Esgrima LP (37) San Lorenzo (47) River Plate (41) Boca Juniors (30)
2001–02 Racingmarker (42) River Plate (41) Boca Juniors (33) River Plate (43) Gimnasia y Esgrima LP (37) Boca Juniors (35)
2002–03 Independiente (43) Boca Juniors (40) River Plate (36) River Plate (43) Boca Juniors (39) Vélez Sársfield (38)
2003–04 Boca Juniors (39) San Lorenzo de Almagro (36) Banfield (32) River Plate (40) Boca Juniors (36) Talleres (35)
2004–05 Newell's Old Boys (36) Vélez Sársfield (34) River Plate (33) Vélez Sársfield (39) Banfield (33) Racingmarker (32)
2005–06 Boca Juniors (40) Gimnasia y Esgrima LP (37) Vélez Sársfield (33) Boca Juniors (43) Lanús (35) River Plate (34)
2006–07 Estudiantes de La Plata (44) Boca Juniors (44) River Plate (38) San Lorenzo de Almagro (45) Boca Juniors (39) Estudiantes de La Plata (37)
2007–08 Lanús (38) Tigre (34) Banfield (32) River Plate (43) Boca Juniors (39) Estudiantes de La Plata (39)
2008–09 Boca Juniors (39) Tigre (39) San Lorenzo (39) Vélez Sársfield (40) Huracán(38) Lanús (38)


Top-three finishes

Club Champions Runners-up Third Place/
Semi-final
River Plate 33 25 13
Boca Juniors 23 18 14
Independiente 14 14 11
San Lorenzo de Almagro 10 11 14
Vélez Sársfield 7 7 10
Racingmarker 7 6 12
Newell's Old Boys 5 2 6
Rosario Central 4 4 4
Estudiantes de La Plata 4 3 9
Ferro Carril Oeste 2 3 1
Argentinos Juniorsmarker 2 1 2
Huracán 1 4 4
Lanús 1 3 3
Quilmes 1 1 0
Chacarita Juniors 1 0 2
Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata 0 5 4
Banfield 0 2 2
Tigre 0 2 0
Talleres 0 1 6
Unión 0 1 2
Colón 0 1 1
Racing de Córdoba 0 1 0
Deportivo Español 0 0 3
Platense 0 0 2
Atlanta 0 0 1
Atlético Tucumán 0 0 1
Temperley 0 0 1


Other official competitions

Other than the league tournaments, AFA also officially recognizes three other competitions.



These three competitions are not considered league tournaments, but the competitions are official and the championships are regarded as official titles. For example, there are "two stars" on the jersey of Gimnasia y Esgrima, representing the title of Copa Centenario and their only league title in 1929.

Topscorers

The all-time top scorers of Primera División Argentina are Arsenio Erico and Angel Labruna both with 293 goals. However, Arsenio Erico holds a better percentage scoring 293 goals in 332 games compared with Angel Labruna 293 goals in 515 games. Most players on the all-time top scorers table had their golden age before 1970s, with all of the top five all-time scorers having retired before 1973. The only current player in the top twenty list is Martín Palermo, who had played for Estudiantes and Boca in the Primera División.

See also



References


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