The province of Buenos Aires is one of the 23 that make up the Argentine Republic. But it is not an ordinary province. More than 16 million Argentines, a third of the total, live in it. Its political and economic weight is enormous. And also its soccer weight. If we look at the final classification of the recently concluded Superliga, we see that among the top ten teams there are eight Buenos Aires: Racing, Defense and Justice, Boca, River Plate, Velez, Independiente, Tigre and Hurricane. The exceptions are two: Unión Santa Fe, eighth, and Atlético Tucumán, fifth.
Tucumán is at the heart of what people call inside from the country. Martín Caparrós wrote a fascinating book, entitled, of course, Inside, on that vast and uncertain space with a personality so unique, so varied and so exotic that it forces us to reflect on whether the Argentines share many common features, beyond the River Plate façade that from the outside we identify with the whole. Inside the interior, Tucumán is aligned with El Norte. Behind or above it has Salta, Jujuy and the vague limit with Bolivia. To the west, Chile. It's Latin American territory, with all the magical realism they want. Caparrós tells in his book the story of a cow that its owners tied to the bedroom bed during the night, to avoid being robbed, and that one day dawned still tied but turned into skin and bones: someone very stealthy had killed her dark and had taken all the meat. It is not an anecdote from Tucumán, but it reflects something about the spirit of the interior of the country.
Life is peculiar in the northern, Catholic and conservative border, more than a thousand kilometers (real and figurative) of the European features that characterize Buenos Aires. Consider the case of Atlético Tucumán, the dean club of the region (hence its nickname, The dean), ancient and powerful in his land (they also call it The Northern Giant), small in comparison with the powers of Buenos Aires. It was founded in 1902 by a group of local heroes and since 1903 dresses the jacket with the colors of the Argentine flag: before Racing, before the selection, Atlético Tucumán was the first albiceleste team. His track record is modest. Lately, however, he has experienced moments of glory such as the promotion to the top category in 2009 (followed by a decline) and participation in the Copa Libertadores in 2017.
Now you have a great time. Play hard and focused, with two strikers strikers (Diaz and Toledo) and a behind ready for any sacrifice. Its robustness owes much to the technician Ricardo Zielinski, The Russian, whose professional career portrays quite clearly the humus that forms the basement of Argentine football: he passed, before Atlético, for the bench of Ituzaingó, San Telmo, Deportivo Morón, Defensa y Justicia, All Boys, Juventud Antoniana, El Porvenir, Temperley , Ben Hur, Chacarita, Patronato and Belgrano, where he is revered.
On Saturday, the José Fierro stadium in Tucumán trembled like never before this season. After getting the fifth place in the Superliga and a continental classification, The dean he played in the quarterfinals of the Super League Cup (yes, it's a mess) with the mighty River Plate, champion of the Libertadores. And he achieved what he had never achieved: winning the chickens. It was not a scraped victory, no. It was a 3-0 that left the porteños shivering.
River could go back maybe in the second leg. We have seen in the European semifinals that nothing is ever safe, and River will have the warmth of theirs in the Monumental. Maybe this is ephemeral. Perhaps the good time of Atlético is also ephemeral, because The Russian It has many possibilities to go to another club, such as Hurricane, in Buenos Aires. But the moment of glory of Tucumán will last in the deep memory of the Inside
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