Copa Libertadores


Copa Libertadores. Gremio (Porto Alegre) qualified directly to the semif-final stage, the other teams played in 5 qualification groups as ever. Only the group winners qualified.

Group 1. Argentina and Paraguay. The battle was between Independiente (Avellaneda) and Olimpia (Asuncion). Estudiantes (La Plata) somewhat curiously, given their strong form in the Argentine championship, failed. At the end goal-difference decided the winner. As a note for the future: 18-years old Jose Luis Chilavert debuted internationally, playing a game for Sportivo Luqueno.

1.Independiente (Avellaneda) 6 4 1 1 11- 5 9

2.Olimpia (Asunción) 6 4 1 1 8- 5 9

3.Sportivo Luqueño (Asunción) 6 0 3 3 2- 6 3

4.Estudiantes (La Plata) 6 0 3 3 4- 9 3

Group 2. Bolivia and Chile. O’Higgins (Rancagua) was the outsider, but otherwise the group had expected outcome.

1.Universidad Católica (Santiago) 6 4 1 1 11- 5 9

2.Blooming (Santa Cruz) 6 3 2 1 10- 6 8

3.Bolívar (La Paz) 6 2 2 2 10- 8 6

4.O’Higgins (Rancagua) 6 0 1 5 4-16 1

Group 3. Brazil and Colombia. Santos was weakest, who knows why. America put some fight, but Flamengo was head and shoulders above the opposition.

1.Flamengo (Rio de Janeiro) 6 5 1 0 19- 6 11

2.América (Cali) 6 3 1 2 8- 9 7

3.Atlético Junior (Barranquilla) 6 2 0 4 9-12 4

4.Santos 6 1 0 5 5-14 2

Group 4. Ecuador and Uruguay. El Nacional was a bit of a surprise, but still the winner was the expected one.

1.Nacional (Montevideo) 6 4 1 1 13- 5 9

2.El Nacional (Quito) 6 3 2 1 12- 6 8

3.Danubio (Montevideo) 6 2 1 3 8- 8 5

4.Nueve de Octubre (Milagro) 6 0 2 4 7-21 2

Group 5. Peru and Venezuela. The only group with unexpected winner – here the final table only after a play-off between Universidad Los Andes (Merida) and Sporting Cristal (Lima), for both teams ended with equal points and +2 goal-difference. The match was played on neutral ground in Cali and the Venezuelans prevailed 2-1.

1.Universidad Los Andes (Mérida) 6 4 0 2 6- 4 8

Sporting Cristal (Lima) 6 4 0 2 8- 6 8

3.Portuguesa (Acarigua) 6 3 0 3 9- 7 6

4.Mariano Melgar (Arequipa) 6 1 0 5 5-11 2

In the semi-final stage Independiente was very strong, leaving the others well behind in Group 1.

1.Independiente (Avellaneda) 4 2 2 0 4- 2 6

2.Nacional (Montevideo) 3 1 1 1 3- 2 3

3.Universidad Católica (Santiago) 3 0 1 2 1- 4 1

Group 2 was more dramatic, for there were two Brazilian rivals of grand standing – Gremio, current holders of Copa Libertadores, and Flamengo, also very strong and ambitious internationally. The Venezuealan team was only a punching bag and point-provider. Gremio and Flamengo finished with equal points and went to a play-off, for at this stage goal-difference was not immediate tie-braker. The rivals played in Sao Paulo and there was still no winner – 0-0. And only now goal-difference played a role – Gremio’s was better and the finished first and went to the final.

1.Grêmio (Porto Alegre) 4 3 0 1 14- 5 6

Flamengo (Rio de Janeiro) 4 3 0 1 9- 7 6

3.Universidad Los Andes (Mérida) 4 0 0 4 2-13 0

The big two-legged final at last. Gremio, the current holders, aiming for a consecutive second cup, against the club, which won most cups to this date – Independiente.

Gremio hosted the first leg and to the dismay and disappointment of the fans in Porto Alegre, Burruchaga scored the only goal of the match. Nothing was finished yet, but Independiente was leading and had the home advantage. Gremio did its best in hostile Avellaneda and did not lose. But it did not win either, the match ending scoreless 0-0. Naturally, the stadium erupted – what greater moment than winning the coveted trophy in front of home fans.



The moment of triumph – rightly Kings of Cups! The capital of the football world was Avellaneda.

Bitter pill to swallow for Gremio. They conquered the world in 1983 and naturally aimed to do it again in 1984 – in general, they had the same winning team. May be not particularly starry squad, but experienced, stable, players well adjusted to each other. The big names and leaders were Renato Gaucho and the Uruguayan defender Hugo de Leon – quite enough for class, toughness, and inspiration. But 1983 was not repeated – Gremio fought well, was a bit lucky at the semi-finals, came close at the finals, and lost minimally. Unfortunately, the opposition was slightly stronger.


In 1984, Independiente did more than just winning Copa Libertadores – they became the most internationally successful club in the world! This was their 7th Copa Libertadores – Real Madrid was left behind with their 6 European Champions Cups.

Sitting from left: Tourino (?) – assistant coach, Cirinsione (?) – coach, Sanchez, Percudani, Merlini, Bufarini, Zimmermann, Carizzo (?), Reinoso, Barberon, Serusi – masseur.

Middle row: Jose Pastoriza – head coach, Fennema (?) – assistant coach, Rios, Enrique, Marangoni, Krnko (?), Monzon, Villaverde, Wiktor, Guisti, Adorno (?) – assistant coach.

Top row: Kenny – condition coach, Clara, Trossero, Oviedo, Moriconi, Goyen, Prono, Clausen, Burruchaga, Chicolio (?) – doctor.

Foure players are missing here: Mario Killer (who moved to play for Rosario Central), Rene Houseman (fading by now and just arriving from a spell in South Africa, he played miniscule role, appearing only once in the Copa Libertadores campaign and that as a substitute), the Chilean reserve goalkeeper Sergio Vargas, and Ricardo Bochini. It is a shame Bochini is not on the photo, for he was already Mr. Independiente – rightly, he is considered the all-time best player of the club, a massive star at the time – unfortunately, not well known outside Argentina, for he was rarely called to play for the national team and never moved to Europe – and the driving force of the team for many years. The whole period is called “Bochini era’, so huge was his importance for the club he was loyal to his last playing day. Of course, it was not just him – there were up and coming Burruchaga, Guisti, Trossero, Clausen, Villaverde, Monzon, Percudani. A well assembled squad, coached by former big star Jose Pastoriza. Yet, compared to the all-conquering teams of the 1970s, it was somewhat limited team – thus, differently oriented, centered on Bochini, driven by Bochini. And this peculiarity or limitation shows: as good as it was, this Independiente vintage was not capable of fighting on two, not to mention three fronts. Thus, it seems that they focused on Copa Libertadores and just went though the motions in the domestic championships. Well rewarded decision, but also suggesting that this squad was not going to make a dynasty. Not to be discarded as one time wonder, though – it was a team good enough for one challenge and it was important to make the right choice on which championship to concentrate the efforts. Of course, Independiente was not going to leave things as they were, especially with the ever-present danger of losing stars to European, Mexican, or other South American clubs, but it was not that much of reinforcement – rather, keeping up decent squad by finding classy replacement for those who were going elsewhere. Given the circumstances, Independiente did better than most Argentine clubs, staying constantly strong. But that is general observation of a period going well beyond 1984 – for this year the club became the most successful in the world coming ahead of Real Madrid after winning its 7th Copa Libertadores and that was not even all that happened. As a novelty, Independiente even came ahead in the Uruguayan battle – the star defender Hugo de Leon was key player of Gremio. His practically unknown countryman, the goalkeeper Carlos Goyen prevailed and lifted Copa Libertadores. Well, this chapter ended, another one is coming.

Argentina. Nacional

Campeonato Nacional had different formula and perhaps was more dramatic – for all the wrong reasons – than Campeonato Metropolitano, but it was no different in terms the current form and fate of the clubs. The small club, which qualified from the distant provinces were weaker than the well established names and none made a big surprise. In general, just happy to rub shoulders with the famous clubs. 32 teams divided into 8 groups at first, the top 2 of each qualifying to the second round and from there to the final, it was standard cup formula – direct elimination in 2 legs.

Boca Juniors was unable to reach even the second round – they finished 3rd in Group A, losing qualifying spot to Talleres on worse goal-difference.

Ferro Carril Oeste (General Pico) was last in the group, Talleres, 2nd, and Newell’s Old Boys, 1st, qualified.

Group B. Temperley was 4th,

Union (General Pinedo) – 3rd. It was curious group – three of the teams finished with 5 ties and 1 loss (all lost a game to group winners and tied every other match). Goal-difference was not enough to deliberate – Union and Gimnasia y Esgrima (Mendoza) finished both the same goal-difference -1. Most scored goals decided the matter and Union lost – they scored 6, Gimnasia y Esgrima scored 10 goals. San Lorenzo won the group after beating every opponent once and tying the second leg.

Group C. Central Norte (Salta) was 4th and Velez Sarsfield – 3rd. Rosario Central, 2nd, and Belgrano (Cordoba), 1st, qualified.

Group D. The favourites had it really easy.

Atletico Uruguay (Concepcion Uruguay) was last, earning just 1 point and were the team receiving most goals in the opening phase: 24. Playing on legendary Estadio Monumental was perhaps the best moment in their lives.

Estudiantes (Rio Cuarto), similar to Atletico Uruguay, were slightly better and 3rd. Huracan was 2nd and River Plate – 1st. Both big names went ahead, of course.

Group E. Altos Hornos Zapla (Jujuy) was last. Platense was unlucky 3rd, losing qualification of worse goal-difference. Instituto (Cordoba) clinched the 2nd place and Ferro Carril Oeste (Buenos Aires) was on top.

Group F. A bit of a scandal here.

Kimberley (Mar del Plata) ended last and nothing strange in that. Standing from left: Iglesias, Fernández, Gonzalbe, Marcelo Arce, Roldán, Gaspani, De Santis, Maffioni, Solaberrieta, Pomero, Santecchia, Laxalde.

First row: Sergio Trebini, Fabián Martínez, Peralta, Zwicker, Victor Arce, Da Silva, Surace, Rivera, Silva, Miori, Jacquet.

Chacarita Juniors was 3rd. That was because of 6-point deduction – for what were they penalized is unknown now, but surely was serious infraction. Thanks to this penalty, Atletico Tucuman ended 2nd and qualified to the next round. Independiente won the group.

Group G.

Atletico Ledesma (Jujuy) was predictably last. Union (Santa Fe) – 3rd. Terrible season for them in both Metropolitano and Nacional. Racing (Cordoba), 2nd, and Argentinos Juniors, 1st, qualified.

Group H. Union San Vicente (Cordoba) was 4th and Atlanta – 3rd. Olimpo (Bahia Blanca) finished 2nd and Estudiantes (La Plata) – 1st.

Estudiantes had the strongest record in the group phase – 5 wins and 1 tie. True, they had easy group.

In the next stage Estidiantes, Olimpo, Racing (Cordoba), Atletico Tucuman, Instituto, Huracan, Rosario Central, and Gimnasia y Esgrima (Mendoza) were eliminated.

In the quarterfinals Belgrano (Cordoba) fell victim of River Plate.

Belgrano lost 0-4 at homeand it was all over. They won the away leg 2-0, but knew they had no chance.

This is the end of the road for Independiente as well. Standing from left: Goyén, Zimmermann, Trossero, Villaverde, Marangoni, Clausen.

First row: Enrique Sánchez, Giusti, Burruchaga, Bochini, Barberón.

They lost to Ferro Carril Oeste after 1-1 in Buenos Aires and 0-1 at home in Avellaneda.

Argentinos Juniors, playing on Ferro Carril Oeste’s stadium for some reason, was also eliminated – they clinched 2-1 victory over Talleres in the first leg, but lost 2-4 in Cordoba.

Newell’s Old Boys put the fight, but San Lorenzo prevailed – 2-2 and 1-2.

The semi-finals:

San Lorenzo went that far and no further, losing both legs to River Plate – 1-2 and 1-2.

Talleres also finishe here, losing to Ferro Carril Oeste 0-1 in Buenos Aires and failing to win in Cordoba – 1-1.

So, the final opposed River Plate to Ferro Carril Oeste. At fist glance, no doubt who was the favourite. But a closer look does not make predictions easy: Ferro Carril was in great from and almost won Metropolitano. River Plate was shaky, at best. Sure, they wanted to win and also had better squad on paper. But all was just empty talk and hopes, more or less finished in the first leg, which River Plate lost on home turf 0-3. Dispirited, they lost the second leg as well – 0-1.

No comment, really. River Plate lost without even scoring a goal the Campeonato Nacional final and the season left them empty-handed. No comfort in the fact they played much better than Boca Juniors… a season without a trophy is a catastrophe for River.

The great joy was experienced in other parts of Buenos Aires, than the usual ones. Silent Boca, Parque Patricios, Nunez, Nueva Pompeya and Paque Chacabuco, but festive Villa General Mitre (Argentinos Juniors) and now – Balvanera, the stronghold of Ferro Carril Oeste. Which stadium saw this year’s success of two clubs, since Argentinos Juniors used it too. It was truly the year of the underdog – Argentinos Juniors was called a team without stars; Ferro Carril Oeste had even less. Oscar Garre was the only big name and Marcico and Canete had good reputations, but that was just about all – Hector Cuper was hardly famous player. But this was arguably the greatest squad of Ferro Carril Oeste and certainly the most successful – they won the 2nd title in the history of the club, after winning the first in 1982. Both times Ferro won Campeonato Nacional, but this year they came very close to winning Campeonato Metropolitano too. Famous, not famous, they clearly outplayed mighty River Plate at the final. These years were the golden period for the otherwise modest club.

Argentina. Metropolitano

Metropolitano. The notorious financial problems of Argentine football were already so common place, no need even to mention them. The exodus of players continued at high rate, as a result, and no wonder the big clubs suffered. It was not their year at all and if anything, new low level was settling – one of the ‘big 5’ was already in the second division, the others were nowhere to be seen this season. And a second famous club was relegated. Two teams went down, those with the worse 3-year average and co-incidentally or not, those two finished at the bottom of the table. However, it was not all doom and gloom – for some, this was great year. All depends on the standpoint.

Atlanta finished 19th and was relegated – hardly a surprise.

Rosario Central was 18th and also relegated – now, this was troublesome news. This was the club which gave Mario Kempes to the world. They were champions and one of the strongest teams in the 1970s. But the decade was over and the 80s were nothing like the 70s – the club was weak and steadily going down. To the second division.

Huracan was playing with fire too – they ended 17th and it was hard to believe they were one of the most exciting Argentine sides 10 years ago. Staying in the top league was the only concern now…

Boca Juniors was another disgrace, perhaps the biggest one – 16th! Never mind having Gatti, up and coming Rugeri, and two Uruguayan stars – Krasouski and the aging Morena – in its squad. A season fans surely wanted to forget.

Independiente was also down, 14th, but theirs might have been different case – very likely they concentrated on international football and not really caring for domestic football. This squad pretty much suggest so: mostly reserves. Certainly not a squad aiming at winning.

Modest Temperley finished 13th. Circumstances were in their favour – staying in the league was the obvious concern and weak big clubs helped such a modest aim. It was good for local pride to finish above Boca, Huracan, Rosario Central, Independiente.

Instituto (Cordoba) finished 11th.

Chacarita Juniors – 10th.

Talleres (Cordoba) – 9th.

Above them the 5th of the ‘Big’ – San Lorenzo. Not a great season for them either.

Newell’s Old Boys finished 7th.

Velez Sarsfield – 6th. Standing from left: Vanemerak, Cuciuffo, Navarro Montoya, Larraquy, Fren, Lucca.

First row: Bujedo, Lucero, Bianchi, Meza, Fabián Vázquez.

Wonderful season for Racing (Cordoba) – 5th.

River Plate – 4th. Call it ‘rebuilding’, if you like. Call it weak and troublesome time, if you wish. They were not in the title race at all, although were the best performing of the ‘Big 5’. Standing from left: Saporiti, Olarticoechea, De los Santos, Karabín, Jorge García, Pumpido.

First row: Bica, Francescoli, Villalba, Alfaro, Tapia.

Three teams fought for the title.

Estudiantes (La Plata) finished with bronze. 48 points were just not enough for a title, but the boys ended 5 points ahead of River Plate. Estudiantes had a good spell at this time, so nothing extraordinary to see them among the favourites. Standing from left: Agüero, Islas, Russo, Issa, Camino, Herrera. Front row: Trobbiani, Vieta, Trama, Sabella, Ponce.

Ferro Carril Oeste was 2nd with 50 points. One point short from a title, but Ferro had splendid year and there were hardly any regrets. Standing from left: Arregui, Brandoni, Garré, Cúper, Marchesini, Basigalup.

Front: Agonil, Oscar Acosta, Cañete, Noremberg, Crocco.

A team without stars, but in perfect form.

No matter what criticism Argentine football at the time was facing, this club surely begged to differ: there was no better time for them. Argentinos Juniors won its very first title. A historic achievement – so far, their best was 2nd place with Diego Maradona leading them. Without him – champions! It was a very long wait, but the reward was fantastic. Here are the heroes, instantly becoming immortal. Standing from left: Olguín, Domenech, Pavoni, Vidallé, Villalba, Batista.

First row: Castro, Videla, Pasculli, Commisso, Ereros.

A team without stars, and this opinion is cemented in history too, but was it true? Well, they had no outstanding figure – like Maradona 5 year ago, or Francescoli of the current vintage of River Plate, or old and almost legendary player like Velez Sarsfield’s Carlos Bianchi, but still they had good talent – Pavoni, Pasculli, Juan Jose Lopez all played for Argentina. Olguin and Batista were world champions with the national team. Commisso and Domenech had well respected careers. Since their immediate rivals, let alone the ‘Big 5’, did not have famous and star-studded squads, Argentinos Juniors were actually very good team. And they were also young squad, up and coming – Lopez, Olguin, and Pavoni were the only players over 30 years of age, the rest were in their early 20s. Add Jorge Pellegrini, the future famous coach. And add some quite unusual youngsters: the 20-years old striker Armando Dely Valdes from Panama and the first US player in Argentina, the 21-years old striker straight from New York, Renato Corsi. Looks like novelty, but apparently Argentinos Juniors did something other Argentine clubs failed to try: in times of short money and massive exodus of talent it was profitable to get cheap young talent from unlikely places. Both Dely Valdes and Corsi stayed with the club during the whole wonderful period, both joining the club in 1983. May be not a truly great squad from all-time point of view, but for the moment very solid and highly promising selection. This is fantastic moment for the club, but it was not going to be one-time wonder – the best period in the history of Argentinos Juniors just started and there was more to come. Excellent victory.

Argentina II Division

Argentina, II Division. This is the pyramid concerning the Metropolitano Championship, of course. 22 teams, divided in 2 subgroups, but playing against the teams from the opposite group as well. One team was directly promoted – the one with the most points from any group. The second promotional spot was decided between the next top placed teams – 4 from the group where the divisional winner played and the top 4 teams from the other group. After direct eliminations the winner got the second promotional spot. As for relegation, it was decided by separate table, taking into account the last three seasons and the the 2 teams with the lowest average went down. Thus, Deportivo Armenio and Arsenal (Sarandi) went down to 3rd Division. Not at all surprising – they finished at the bottom of Group A as well: Arsenal 10th with 36 points and Deportivo Armenio – 11th with 23 points.

As for the championship as a whole, down on their luck were Quilmes, not long ago high in the top league. Now they were 8th in Group B. Colon (Santa Fe) was also in trouble – 8th in Group A.

All Boys, a modest club anyway, was perhaps worse than usual this year – 10th in Group B and dangerously low in the 3-year relegation table – 19th and with the same average as El Porvenir. Next year would be really tough – relegation had to be avoided at all costs, but was it possible?

The most famous club playing second division football now was Racing Club (Avellaneda) and they were quite fragile – still having a chance of returning to the top division after the regular championship, but not particularly big one: they finished 2nd in Group A, but 16 points behind the champions.

The other possible candidate for promotion, by reputation, was Gimnasia y Esgrima (La Plata) – 4th in Group A. The rest of the possible candidates were smaller, more third than second rate clubs – Argentino (Rosario), 3rd and Tigre, 5th, from Group A and the top 4 from Group B: Defensores de Belgrano, 1st, Lanus, 2nd, Nueva Chicago, 3rd, and Deportivo Moron, 4th.

In the first round of the play-offs Nueva Chicago lost to Lanus 1-3 and 1-1. The second leg was suspended in the 57th minute, most likely because of violence and replayed later. Tigre – to Defensores de Belgrano 1-4 and 0-0, Deportivo Moron to Racing Club 1-2 and 1-0. Both teams won the away leg and the rule of more away goals decided the winner. Argentino lost to Gimnasia y Esgrima 1-1 and 1-2.

Argentino (Rosario) had surprisingly strong season, but unfortunately they were not a winning squad. They stood their ground against Gimnasia y Esgrima, but were still eliminated by a single goal.

In the ½ finals Racing eliminated Lanus 2-1 and 1-0.

Lanus were still lowly, mostly second division club, so it was good run for them, even after elimination.

Same for Defensores de Belgrano – they did their best and lost by a singly goal to Gimnasia y Esgrima – 2-2 and 0-1.

Thus, the final was between the likeliest candidates for promotion and the biggest names in the second division: Racing Club (Avellaneda) and Gimnasia y Esgrima (La Plata). GELP practically decided the outcome in the first leg, which they won 3-1 in inhospitable Avellaneda. Back home in La Plata they won again by 2 goals difference: 4-2. Racing had to stay in the lower division, to their shame and the jeers of Independiente fans.

Gimnasia y Esgrima or GELP, or simply Gimnasia, won promotion and this was great relieve fot the second club of La Plata. Now they had the chance to fight directly the arch-enemy Estudiantes. Standing from left: Castagneto, Kuzemka, Ingrao, Bianculli, Tempesta.

First row: Andrada, Marasco, Carrió, Rubén Ramírez, Pedrazzi, Lúquez.

No famous players here, but what could be expected from a club suffering largely second division football for years. Going up was just wonderful by itself.

The other promoted team – rather, the first promoted team – did not have worries of play-offs: they were the champions of the league of merit.

Deportivo Espanol, hailing from Flores, Buenos Aires, is not a club readily coming to mind – among the countless clubs in Buenos Aires, they were something like 3rd raters. First division was not their usual dwelling. But they had fantastic season this year: 30 wins, 7 ties, 5 losses, 73-30 goal-difference and 67 points. No other club from either group came even remotely near them – Defensores de Belgrano, the winners of Group B, ended with 55 points. Racing Club had 51. Deportivo Espanol simply dominated the season and rightly won the championship and enjoyed much desired promotion.

Standing from left: Donaires, Clide Díaz, Zárate, Correa, Catalano, D’Angelo.

First row: Ojeda, Lorea, Crespo, Moreno, Candau.

Since Deportivo Espanol is rarely heard-of name and success is similarly sparse for them, one more look at the Second Division champions of Argentina:
Good luck to them in the first division next year.