How to win the league and be relegated in the same season
It is one of the oddities of ArgentinaÃ¢ÂÂs complicated relegation system that clubs often know their fate many months in advance.
Based on a system that tallies the average points attained over three seasons, the two sides with the lowest averages are automatically relegated from the division each June.
The next two teams up the table play off against second division sides for the right to keep their place in the top flight, this was the fate that befell Buenos Aires giants River Plate last season.
At the beginning of the 2011/12 season (see image below), Tigre Ã¢ÂÂ a modest, but historic club from northern Buenos Aires Ã¢ÂÂ knew only an incredible campaign would see them avoid relegation this June.
More than that, they would need to challenge for the title to even have a hope of survival, and given they had just lost their star striker Denis Stracqualursi to English club Everton, things didnÃ¢ÂÂt look good for a club with little money and under the guidance of a rookie manager in Rodolfo Arruabarrena.
Although their challenge for second place and a berth in the Copa Libertadores fell short late in the Apertura season, they had already overachieved enough to give themselves an outside chance of survival heading into the Clausura.
Yet five games in, Arruabarrena is now contemplating the possibility of winning the league yet still getting relegated.
Only 36 years old, El Vasco is best known in Europe for his time at Villarreal, who reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2006 thanks to his quarterfinal winner against Internazionale. The team centred around Juan RomÃÂ¡n RiquelmeÃ¢ÂÂs ability as an enganche in Manuel PellegriniÃ¢ÂÂs 4-3-1-2, and this also forms the base for ArruabarrenaÃ¢ÂÂs Tigre.
VillarrealÃ¢ÂÂs success in Spain was built upon a tight-knit unit that shared a footballing philosophy; a little piece of South America in CastellÃÂ³n, with seven Argentinians, a Uruguayan, a Bolivian, a Brazilian and an Ecuadorian when Riquelme arrived, not to mention a Chilean coach in Manuel Pellegrini. It was Pellegrini Ã¢ÂÂ now at Malaga Ã¢ÂÂ who instilled in Arruabarrena the importance of the group in any success:
Ã¢ÂÂIn this job itÃ¢ÂÂs fundamental to lead. ItÃ¢ÂÂs much more important than 4-2-2, 4-3-1 or 4-8-3Ã¢ÂÂ¦ I donÃ¢ÂÂt know how many systems there are and they keep adding numbersÃ¢ÂÂ¦ What is important is to know the personalities of the players, and how to combine them.Ã¢ÂÂ
And that he has done.
Arruabarrena celebrates his Champions League goal against Inter in 2006
Blending together a mish-mash of fairly uninspiring players, only Boca Juniors have amassed more points than his side in the last 12 months.
He has unearthed the potential in players like RomÃÂ¡n Martinez, a former Deportivo MorÃÂ³n player who had failed in Spain, or Ezequiel Maggiolo, who is inexplicably nicknamed Ã¢ÂÂlettuceÃ¢ÂÂ.
Diego Morales had also led a fairly unremarkable career until being picked up by Tigre, but he has since become the teamÃ¢ÂÂs attacking fulcrum, creating goals and also finishing the Apertura as their leading scorer. His role is similar to that of Riquelme in the Villarreal of the mid-noughties, and considering Arruabarrena was the one who originally convinced Riquelme to join the Ã¢ÂÂYellow SubmarineÃ¢ÂÂ from Barcelona, his appreciation of the importance of a classic South American Ã¢ÂÂ10Ã¢ÂÂ is clear.
A win for Tigre this weekend may still not be enough to take them to the dizzying heights of the relegation playoff places, but even with most of his title rivals in midweek continental action, a first ever league title for the club couldnÃ¢ÂÂt be further from the mind of El Vasco.
Ã¢ÂÂOur table is the relegation table,Ã¢ÂÂ he said this week. Ã¢ÂÂWe mustn't make the mistake of thinking otherwise.Ã¢ÂÂ
He is humble too. When recently linked with the job at Boca Juniors - the club where he won the Copa Libertadores as a player Ã¢ÂÂ he was quick to quash the speculation, reasoning that he still makes far too many errors.
His mentor Pellegrini once told El PaÃÂs that Ã¢ÂÂif one were to just put players in a tactical system, something crazy would happenÃ¢ÂÂ, but even though Arruabarena has followed this advice seemingly to the letter, he may find his side in the crazy situation of being champions while also getting relegated.