BUENOS AIRES - A team of disparate talents knitted into an exciting Huracan team by coach Angel Cappa meet Ricardo Gareca's solid Velez Sarsfield to settle the Argentine Clausura championship on Sunday. A final only by circumstance, the match is part of the last weekend of the league season postponed because of parliamentary elections last week. There are eight other matches this weekend. For a fortnight, apart from the relegation concerns of some teams, the clash at Velez has been the talk of the town while clubs with nothing at stake have started looking at budgets and recruiting for next season. The 62-year-old Cappa's success with a squad of players on loan and promising youngsters has come quickly and their attacking style, a breath of fresh air for the game in Argentina, makes them most neutrals' favourites. Huracan, one point above Velez atop the standings, need only a draw to lift their second title, and first since 1973, but will not abandon their open, attacking style to go against the grain and try and shut up shop. "The mental aspect is the most important of all in these kinds of decisive matches," said Velez coach Gareca. "The team that are strongest mentally will win." FLU SCARE The timing of Sunday's match, though, is tight with Huracan president Carlos Babington having to negotiate extensions to the contracts of on-loan players beyond their June 30 expiry. These include the man widely regarded as the player of the championship, 24-year-old central midfielder Mario Bolatti, on loan from Porto and on the verge of an Argentina call-up by national coach Diego Maradona. Had the government decided to ban public gatherings amid an outbreak of the H1N1 flu strain that has killed at least 43 people in Argentina, Huracan might have been hard pushed to retain half their team if faced by another postponement. Despite the recommendation to citizens by Buenos Aires city authorities to avoid places of mass concentration of people a near capacity crowd of 40,000 is expected at the Amalfitani. Gareca, 51 and like Cappa looking for his first top flight title as a coach in his home country, has the more experienced players and home advantage. While Huracan have the best attack with 35 goals in 18 matches, Velez have the best defence having conceded only 13 and are unbeaten at home. World club champions in 1994, Velez are looking for their seventh league title and first since 2005.
3 July 2009
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