Tigre burn candle at both ends in Argentina

It is a bizarre and almost unbelievable scenario but Tigre face the prospect of both winning a first Argentine league championship on Sunday and yet being forced into a play-off to avoid relegation.

The astonishing situation for the small club from the Buenos Aires suburb of Victoria is due to the country's relegation averages introduced 29 years ago.

As it stands, victory for Tigre in their final match at home to Independiente and an Arsenal defeat by Belgrano would earn them the Clausura title with 38 points.

But if both teams draw and Boca Juniors win at All Boys, a three-way play-off for the title will follow, as goal difference is not taken into account.

Of more pressing concern to Tigre, however, is their position in the relegation standings - a separate table decided on clubs' average points over three seasons.

At the centre of the problem lies a poor 2009/10 campaign where the club collected a measly 32 points over the two competitions.

Ahead of their final game, Tigre sit one place above the relegation drop-zone.

The wrong result this weekend could push them into one of the two promotion-relegation play-off berths against a team from the second-tier Primera B Nacional.

The threat has been with them all year but as one of the more consistent teams they have fought their way out of the bottom four in the relegation standings. The bottom two are automatically relegated.

The possibility of a meeting with relegated giants River Plate in a playoff if the joint second division leaders do not win automatic promotion back to the top flight in their final match of the Primera B Nacional championship on Saturday, could become a reality.


Tigre coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena made it clear earlier in the week when he said he would "sign for survival over the championship" while striker Carlos Luna, the championship's top scorer with 11 goals, echoed that sentiment on Thursday.

"Our main objective was to get to this match with chances of staying in the first division," Luna told reporters.

"So we've got to think only about that, getting the three points against Independiente.

"It's true we set out [at the beginning] to win a lot of points to stay in the first division, but we didn't imagine we'd be top with possibilities of achieving the championship."

Boca Juniors, who have occupied the top spot in the league for most of the year, had their title chances dented in a shock 3-0 home defeat by Arsenal last Sunday and must win at All Boys to stand any chance of retaining it.

This task may have been made easier by the fact that All Boys have four players suspended after they were sent off in Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Argentinos Juniors and could also lose goalkeeper and captain Nicolas Cambiasso, brother of Inter Milan midfielder Esteban, to a ban after he allegedly insulted the referee after the match.

If Tigre do win the title but are relegated, while they will be first division champions playing in the Primera B Nacional, they will be denied entry to the Libertadores Cup, South America's equivalent of the European Champions League.