Velez Sarsfield v Huracan, Argentinean Clausura, July 5, 2009
Perhaps due to the two-way format of the Argentinean league (Apertura and Clausura), there always seems to be some crazy last day drama to keep fans on the end edge of their seat.
The Apertura championship in December went to a three-way play-off between San Lorenzo, Boca Juniors and Tigre and the Clausura is set for a thrilling finale with the top two facing off on the final day of the campaign. Huracan are currently first on 38 points with hosts Velez just a point behind.
Huracan, under coach Angel Cappa, have been the team of the Clausura in Argentina playing some scintillating attacking football that has had even the neutrals purring. The biggest clubs in Argentina have struggled in recent times due to the global economic issues, and Huracan, one of the poorest clubs in the country, have taken advantage.
Three players have been credited with steering Huracan to the top of the table, defensive midfielder Mario Bolatti (on loan from FC Porto) and attacking players Javier Pastore and Matias De Federico.
All three players are expected to move on in the coming weeks and Pastore and De Federico could well be moving to Europe. Pastore could be the heir to the Argentina number 10 shirt and looks to be a playmaker of real class whilst De Federico has been labeled the â€œnew Messiâ€ due to his similar playing style, quick footwork and fine pace.
Huracan set up this title clash with a 3-0 home win over Arsenal Sarandi which marked their fifth successive win, they have won all but one of their last ten games which included a 4-0 thrashing of River Plate.
Velez though, are slight favourites going into this match with home support and they also have a fine recent record. Ricardo Garecaâ€™s side have won three of their last four (including a 2-0 defeat of Boca Juniors) and the 1-1 draw at Lanus two weeks ago, playing with just ten men, kept them off top spot going into the final day.
Like Huracan, Velez have some fine attacking talent that has emerged over the past few months. Uruguayan striker Hernan Lopez, 31, is the third top goal scorer in the Clausura whilst 20-year-old Jontahan Cristaldo is a forward who could be the future of the Argentinean national team. Sadly for Velez he will be missing from this game after injuring his knee against Lanus.
Velez also carry the reputation of knowing to play good football and have a depth and strength to their squad that could prove the difference against minnows Huracan. As Cappa puts it: “What one Velez player is worth is Huracan’s budget for two years. But in football terms we are equal.”
The majority of the headlines and feature stories on this match have concentrated on the Huracan fairytale and the opportunity to clinch only the second title ever, with the first one coming under Cesar Luis Menotti in 1973.
After Huracanâ€™s last match, two fans were killed in the violence that seems to dominate in Argentinean football, this match wonâ€™t be for the faint of heart and Huracanâ€™s talented youngsters will be put to the test.
101gg predicts: Velez Sarsfield 1 â€“ Huracan 2