In Argentina, the traditional powers and by extension, the most successful clubs are based in the capital of Buenos Aires and in the surrounding province. One of the exceptions to the rule is Rosario-based Newell’s Old Boys, who on Sunday lifted the trophy as it won the Torneo Final title in the Argentinean first division.
Even before it’s home game on Sunday against Argentinos Juniors, Newell’s had clinched the title on the back of a 2-0 mid-week win over Lanus, the last remaining team who had a chance to challenge and win the league title. Newell’s ended up winning with 38 points, three more than eventual runner-up River Plate, and the fact they were the best team from start to finish was never questioned.
The success behind Newell’s claiming the league title is because of two important factors. Those factors are veteran players, who came up through the youth ranks with the club and returned with European experience, and a great coach, who also was a man of the club returning home.
Players like Maxi Rodriguez, Gabriel Heinze, Ignacio Scocco and Lucas Bernardi all began their professional careers with Newell’s and then at a certain point emigrated to play in Europe’s top soccer leagues. Scocco first moved to play in Mexico before playing in Europe. Each player contributed experience and a steady hand that helped the team win the title.
Heinze served as a rock in the defensive line, while Rodriguez partnered with Bernardi to solidify the midfield and give a team that played with attacking flair the balance it needed, while Scocco proved to be the reliable goal scorer needed as he finished as the joint top goal scorer with 11.
While the four players mentioned gave Newell’s the on-field push and experience, Gerardo Martino was the man that commanded the orchestra from the touchline. Martino has had a long and distinguished career with Newell’s prior to taking over coaching the club in December 2011 as he won three league titles as a Newell’s player.
A disciple of one Marcelo Bielsa, Martino proved to be the perfect coach to lead the team to winning the league title as his philosophy of playing attacking soccer and astute knowledge of knowing how to do so while having defensive solidity. Those characteristics showed he was the perfect steward to command this team and lead Newell’s to the club’s six league title, and third in the two-championship era of Argentina’s first division.
While their league accomplishments is certainly one to admire, the club is nowhere near done trying to win more silverware as they have had a great run in Copa Libertadores play. Newell’s has reached the semifinal round and will next take on the Atlético Mineiro of Brazil. While Mineiro presents a formidable challenge, it is not out of the realm of possibility to expect Newell’s to win the double.