You’ve read part 1 and part 2 of The Bubble’s preview of the 2013 Torneo Inicial already, haven’t you? Yes you have, you clever little reade— sorry. I’ve clearly been spending too much time with my girlfriend’s dog. Anyway, it kicks off this evening! The 2013 Torneo Inicial. Not my girlfriend’s dog. So here, a day or two later than promised, is part 3, in which I run the rule over the sides who finished 12th-20th in the Torneo Final, as well as the three promoted sides. (NOTICE FOR SEO TRAWLERS AND TOURISTS: INCLUDES BOCA JUNIORS!!!! Is that subtle enough, editors?)

If you’d like an audio introduction to this term in the Primera, you can check out the Hand Of Pod Torneo Inicial preview episode. And don’t forget, to keep right up to the minute, and get links to free and entirely legal (no, seriously. Legal. The Argentine government apparently haven’t heard of the concept of geoblocking) streams of Primera games, you can follow me on Twitter.

Now, enjoy the rundown!

Club Atlético Tigre (blue with red central band)

Final 2013 finish?

Thirteenth, a point behind relegated Independiente.

Who, when, where?

Founded in 1902 by a chap called José Dellagiovanna in Tigre—the lovely little delta town you probably visited during your first couple of weeks in Buenos Aires, up in the north of Greater BA. Who he was or precisely why he founded the club has been lost to the mists of time (hey, it’s 3am as I type this and the first three pages of Google leave me none the wiser, okay?), but he was one of their early players as well as the club’s first president, and their stadium today (which is actually in the neighbouring town of Victoria, within the overall Municipality of Tigre) is named after him.

Squad changes?

They’ve been decimated. Club captain Martín Galmarini has gone to Mexico, defenders Alejandro Donatti and Lucas Orban have both left, as has wunderkind forward Rubén Botta. The majority of the new arrivals are somewhat underwhelming.

How will they do?

They really need a good season, or they’ll be in a lot of trouble for relegation next season (2014-15). They have a good enough manager and some decent enough players to perhaps spring a surprise, but I think they’ll climb a couple of places at absolute best by the end of the Inicial.

Support them if you like:

River Plate or Boca Juniors. If you believe the chants of opposing clubs’ fans, at any rate; supposedly Tigre are only a ‘second club’ for fans of the two giants to go and see if they live nearby.

Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield (white with blue ‘V’)

Final 2013 finish?

Fourteenth, after a campaign which (like Tigre’s, it should be said) was put to one side by the considerable distraction of the Copa Libertadores. They did beat Newell’s to win the overall season ‘championship’, though. If you wonder why I’ve used those quotation marks, here’s why.

Who, when, where?

Founded by three young men who wanted a game in Floresta, in 1910. Today they play in Liniers (just head along Avenida Rivadavia until you’re almost at the city limits and you’ll see their stadium on the right hand side) in the Estadio José Amalfitani, named after a former club president.

Squad changes?

They’ve let a bunch of players on the fringes of the first team squad go, as well as selling Facundo Ferreyra, one of the league’s best young strikers, to Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. They’ve replaced him fantastically, with Mauro Zárate (formerly of Birmingham City in England among others), who returns to his first club, but haven’t made any other signings, though one or two players are coming back from loans to other clubs.

How will they do?

Better than they did in the Torneo Final, though exactly how well depends on whether they go all out to try and win the Copa Sudamericana. I’ll go for upper mid-table, though it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if they managed a title challenge.

Support them if you like:

A club who (at least over the last couple of decades) are very well-run from youth divisions right up to the first team, and who reap the benefits in the first team. Apart from the Torneo Final this year, they’ve been arguably the most consistent team in Argentina over the last five-to-ten years.

Club Estudiantes de La Plata (red and white stripes)

Final 2013 finish?

Fifteenth, level on points with Vélez, All Boys and Colón.

Who, when, where?

Well, the founders were a group of university students in La Plata. Your Spanish surely can’t be so bad you hadn’t worked that out? They were founded in 1905 as a breakaway club from Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata (see below). As a ‘high society’ club, Gimnasia decided not to play the sport of the grubby proles (oh, how The Bubble’s chief editor Adrian would approve!) when they left their old stadium, so the kids decided to form their own club.

Squad changes?

Argentina international Rodrigo Braña has joined Quilmes, but he’s the only confirmed departure so far who the club will really miss; they’ve been crap for a good couple of years now. Colombian forward Duván Zapata might/probably will be leaving soon, and if he does goals might become an issue. Santiago Vergini, who won the Torneo Final with Newell’s and was linked with Barcelona when Gerardo Martino went there from Rosario, has inexplicably decided to join Estudiantes. The big signing, though, is former Lazio, Internazionale, Chelsea and Manchester United midfielder Juan Sebastián Verón (if you had to click that link, you’ve done very well by deciding to read this preview) who loves the club so much he’s coming out of retirement to help fix their midfield.

How will they do?

Probably at best a few places higher then they did last season, to be honest; if Zapata’s loss leaves them struggling for goals, then perhaps worse. But football is an irrational thing, and if Verón’s return gives everyone on the pitch as much of a boost as the fans have got from it… who knows?

Support them if you like:

The kind of medium-sized club who are disproportionately good in international competition. Including the amateur era, Estudiantes have been champions of Argentina just five times, but have been champions of the continent no fewer than four times (twice as many as the domestic league’s most successful side, River Plate), and won the 1968 Intercontinental Cup to become world champions, beating Manchester United in the process. Seba Verón’s dad Juan Ramón starred in that tie; little could he have guessed his then unborn son would one day go on to play for United, and later captain Estudiantes to a Copa Libertadores win of his own.

Club Atlético All Boys – yes, seriously. (Some sort of variation on black and white – perhaps white with black trim, perhaps white with a big black central bit, perhaps stripes… they like to change things around)

Final 2013 finish?

Sixteenth, level on points with Vélez, Estudiantes and Colón.

Who, when, where?

They were officially founded 100 years and five months (more or less) ago, in Floresta, a barrio right in the middle of the City of Buenos Aires. The foundation of the club seems to have been a result of an already-existing team realising they should become official in some way, but I’ve leant my book of Argentine club histories to a friend and can’t remember the finer details just at the moment.

Squad changes?

José Romero, nicknamed with a little bit of hyperbole ‘the Ferguson of Floresta’ because he’d been in charge for six years, which is, like, forever compared with the normal life expectancy of a manager in Argentina, has stepped down to be replaced by Julio César Falcioni, the fantastically hunky former Boca Juniors manager (are his teeth in the right way up in that picture? I don’t think they are). On the pitch, they’ve let a fair few players go, and brought in no fewer than eighteen (note to Adrian and other football know-nothings: they’re only allowed to have eleven on the pitch at any one time). Those include a few who played under Falcioni at Boca, so expect similarly exciting football from them this term (that’s sarcasm; Falcioni’s Boca side were about as pretty to look at as his face). Seriously, though, they’ve bought unspectacularly, but pretty well.

How will they do?

They’ll improve. For one thing the pressure of relegation is going to focus a few minds, and for another, though Falcioni’s Boca were ugly as sin to watch, they didn’t half know how to get results. I think the Albo will be around mid-table.

Support them if you like:

Clubs with silly names, of course. Or being inexplicably unpopular; in spite of never having been anyone’s daddy, ever, every Argentine club’s fans regale All Boys with probably the best/silliest/most gratuitous chant in all of football when they come to visit. Originating in the late 1980s during a match against Villa Crespo side Atlanta, ‘La Concha De Tu Madre, All Boys’ (Lit.: ‘Your Mother’s Pussy, All Boys’) is a classic Argentine terrace song, to such an extent that even their own fans quite like it. Oh, and remember I said in part 2 that SanCor’s sponsorship of a team nicknamed ‘The Cream’ was not the best in Argentina? Well, here’s why. I give you the best shirt sponsor in all of world football: a cow standing in a field! I’m guessing by this point of the subediting process that Adrian has, against all his own best instincts, chosen an Argentine team for himself.

Club Atlético Colón (red and black halves)

Final 2013 finish?

You should have worked out by now that we’re going down in descending order. I mean, I did mention it at the start of part 2. But anyway; they finished seventeenth, bottom of the group of four who had 20 points, thanks to inferior goal difference.

Who, when, where?

Founded in 1905 by a bunch of ex-students in Centenario, a barrio in the south of the city of Santa Fe, which is in—wait for it—Santa Fe Province. That’s the one containing Rosario, for the gringos among you. This is why their colours are the same as those of Rosario-based Newell’s; they’re the provincial colours.

Squad changes?

Emanuel Gigliotti, one of the league’s best bustling strikers, has moved to Boca Juniors. Even more importantly, really rather good goalkeeper Diego Pozo has left. Their signings look pretty good, though, and Rubén Forestello has come in to replace Pablo Morant as manager.

How will they do?

Around the same, I think. They’ve been underwhelming for most of the last few years, and whilst a small improvement wouldn’t surprise anyone, a lot of other sides seem to have improved their squads by more.

Support them if you like:

Clubs who’ve never won anything themselves, but give the big boys a bloody nose from time to time. Colón’s ground is known as El Cementerio De Los Elefantes (‘The Elephants’ Graveyard’) thanks to their reputation for claiming big scalps in big matches—which really gained momentum when they took Pelé’s Santos down in the Copa Libertadores during the 1960s.

Asociación Atlética Argentinos Juniors (red, white trim)

Final 2013 finish?

Eighteenth place, with just eighteen points.

Who, when, where?

A group of young anarchists (hence their colours) founded Argentinos in 1904 in Villa Crespo, one of the barrios of Buenos Aires (Bubble readers might know it as Palermo Queens). They moved shortly afterwards to La Paternal, where they’re still based to this day. Well, technically the stadium is just across the relocated border in Villa General Mitre, but don’t say that out loud to their fans.

Squad changes?

Ahem. Hmm. Well, yes, quite. Just a couple. Ricardo Caruso Lombardi, the club’s current manager, is the Harry Redknapp of Argentine football, and has shown it this winter. Seven players out (plus three who were released a few weeks before the end of last season), and eleven in, as well as seven more who the club are still negotiating with. He actually held open trials—I mean open as in, you or I could have gone along and tried our luck—to find new players at one point. On balance they’ve improved the side a bit, but with Caruso’s long-ball game, it remains to be seen how much difference these more able players will make.

How will they do?

Relegation is a real threat, and I think they’ll struggle again. there might be an improvement, but if so it’ll be small, and will have little to do with how attractive they are to watch.

Support them if you like:

Oh, I’m so glad you ask. So many times I’ve asked tourists why they support Boca Juniors, and they always, always, always reply with one of two names. If it’s not Diego Maradona, it’s Juan Román Riquelme. Well, I have news for you: both of them were products of Argentinos Juniors’ youth system, and only moved to Boca later. So are a truly astonishing number of Argentine internationals, past and present. If you like neighbourhood clubs who’ve inexplicably managed to overachieve (they won the Libertadores in 1985), this is your club. Sure, they’re boring as hell to watch right now, but that’ll pass. Plus, remember the All Boys chant I told you about? You’ll be able to sing that every week—All Boys are the closest thing Argentinos have to a clásico rivalry in the Primera at the moment! In fact, those are Argentinos fans in the video I linked to of the chant above.

Club Atlético Boca Juniors (blue and gol- oh come on. You know this)

Final 2013 finish?

Ahh-haha. A-hahahaha. Mwuahahahahahaahahaha. AAAAAAAAA-HHHHHHHHH-HAHAHAHA… sorry, how long have you been sitting there? Really, that long? Well, this is undignified, isn’t it? The self-proclaimed ‘half of the country plus one’ are coming off the back of the worst championship in their history, having finished second from bottom in the Torneo Final.

Who, when, where?

A group of Italian-Argentine teenagers, inspired by an Irish physical education teacher (and apparently a legend of early Argentine boxing) Paddy MacCarthy, founded the club in 1905, in the typically porteño barrio of, obviously, Paler— no, okay, I’m joking. It’s La Boca.

Squad changes?

They released an entire squad’s worth of players at the end of the Torneo Final, and have done pretty well in terms of the names they’ve brought in; Emmanuel Gigliotti (though his registration has been held up pending a tax investigation), goalkeeper Emanuel Trípodi, Daniel Díaz from Atlético Madrid and, best of all, club favourite Fernando Gago, the Argentine international who’s a key part of the Argentina side who’ll head to next year’s World Cup, and who returns to the club he grew up in.

How will they do?

Much as fans of every single other club in Argentina would love me to be wrong, they won’t do worse than last season. They won’t even do as badly as last season. They’re going to improve significantly, albeit given the sheer number of new players in, it might take a while for them all to gel. I reckon mid-table in the Inicial, though it wouldn’t be enormously surprising if they finished a little bit higher.

Support them if you like:

I’m not even going to bother here. You either decided to support them a long time before you ever came to Argentina, or you decided you wanted a less obvious team. Both are fine (I’m a River fan myself, so whilst I hate Boca with a passion, I realise I can’t pass too much judgement), but whichever is the case, neither I nor anyone else are likely to change your mind.

Club Atlético Rosario Central (blue and yellow stripes)

Final 2013 finish?

Um… no, actually. They didn’t have one. You see, we’re now on to the three teams who were promoted from last season’s B Nacional—the second division. Central won it.

Who, when, where?

They’re the current Primera club whose roots are most similar to those of the traditional old northern English football clubs who got the professional game started. In 1889 (see, I told you football got to Argentina seriously early), a group of railway workers on the Central Argentine Railway, lead by Colin Bain Calder, the club’s first president, founded a club to pass their spare time. Since they were in Rosario and working for the Central Argentine Railway, the club’s name was born.

Squad changes?

They’ve not hung about putting together a team for the top flight. Seventeen players have left, whilst signings include Tigre centre back Alejandro Donatti, Boca youngsters Pol Fernández and Lisandro Magallán, River forward Carlos Luna and South American cult hero Sebastián Abreu, who is joining approximately his one-thousand-two-hundred-and-seventy-sixth club. Central might be just joining the division, but they’re considered a seriously big club within Argentine football, and have thrown that weight around to great effect in the winter market.

How will they do?

As with the other two promoted sides, everything is focussed on getting 25 points during the Inicial, and 25 during the Torneo Final. 50 over the course of the season is the figure that pretty much always guarantees survival. I think they’ll do it with something to spare.

Support them if you like:

Traditional old English club origins is the most obvious, I suppose. But also if you want to be on the ‘other’ side of the country’s maddest derby; ask any Argentine from outside Buenos Aires, and (perhaps after naming their own club’s clásico) they’ll tell you the Rosario derby (Central against Newell’s) is the most intense in the country.

Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata (white with blue central band)

2012-13 finish?

Second in the B Nacional, though with the best attack in the division.

Who, when, where?

As hinted at in the Estudiantes section, they were a high society club when founded. You could also guess that from their name, if you speak Spanish; gymnastics and fencing aren’t exactly working-class pursuits, are they? Well, not in 19th-century Argentina they weren’t, anyway. Founded in 1887, Gimnasia are the oldest surviving institution on the continent who still play football, though they didn’t actually include football among their activities until a few years afterwards (though soon enough to have ditched it in 1905, causing Estudiantes to form their own club in protest).

Squad changes?

Not many. Franco Niell, a talented attacker, has left for Central. Gimnasia have signed pretty well, though; Maxi Coronel and Iván Borghello, two of All Boys’ better players last season, have both joined, as have Juan Pablo Rodríguez, an experienced midfielder who played early in his career for La Plata rivals Estudiantes (controversy!), and Gastón Díaz, who’s signed from Vélez.

How will they do?

Hard to say—they’ll make a good fist of it, but be in the bottom half of the table at the end of the Inicial, I think.

Support them if you like:

I don’t know… really really old clubs who’ve won barely anything, perhaps? Everyone (including Gimnasia fans) will tell you they’ve never been champions of Argentina. That’s not true; they won the 1929 championship, but for some reason, Argentine football historians selectively ignore almost everything before 1931 (when the game here became professional), so this doesn’t count, according to them. Idiots.

(Incidentally, this decision to discount everything happens in spite of the fact that Argentina reached the first ever World Cup final in 1930. Maybe if they’d won it instead of losing 4-2 to Uruguay in Montevideo, I wouldn’t be ranting about this stupidity now.)

Club Olimpo (black and yellow stripes)

2012-13 finish?

Third in the B Nacional, with the division’s best defensive record. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll have noticed that means Central managed to win the division without either scoring the most goals, or conceding the fewest. Well done, you! And, indeed, them.

Who, when, where?

In 1910, a group of chaps in Bahía Blanca (a city in the south of Buenos Aires Province) got together and decided to form a team. That’s it.

Squad changes?

They’ve let go a bunch of players whose exits seem more or less right, I think, and brought in… um. Well, one or two. Cristian Trombetta, Martín Pérez Guedes, Fernando Meza… all of these are decent, if not spectacular players (though Pérez Guedes, if he feels comfortable in Bahía Blanca, could be very good). Paulo Rosales, formerly of Unión de Santa Fe and signed from Bahía in Brazil, is the pick of the bunch though. A very under-rated playmaker, I’ve always thought (now watch him crash and burn).

How will they do?

They’ll finish the season in the relegation places. Sorry. I know I’ve predicted pretty much everyone to do at least all right during the Inicial, which means I’m going to be wrong on many counts, but Olimpo, much as I’d love to be wrong, aren’t going to be good enough.

Support them if you like:

Their colours, perhaps. That’s about the only reason I can think of—if you’re reading this from Argentina, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get the chance to go and see them at home, after all. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that they’re by a distance the smallest club in the Primera, and whilst that’s no reason at all to not support them, what is a reason is that Bahía Blanca is bloody miles away from Buenos Aires. Unless for some reason you’re staying down there for an extended period, I can’t imagine why you’d stick up for Olimpo.

(Photo Via Noticias Chinas)