The 2011-12 edition of the Primera Division de Argentina is hours away, and allow me to do a roll call of the many teams hailing from the capital city of Buenos Aires.
Boca Juniors? Present.
Racing de Avellaneda? Present.
San Lorenzo? Present.
Arsenal de Sarandi? Present.
All Boys? Present.
Argentinos Juniors? Present.
River? River? River?
As you all know by now, River Plate will not be partaking in the Primera Division festivities this season due to a stinker in June against Belgrano; however, this leave of absence will only last one year.
Allow me to give you five reasons why River Plate will be promoted back to where they rightfully belong after broadening their horizons with a season in the Nacional B.
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You can never underestimate the tradition of a club like Club Atletico River Plate.
Even a casual follower of Boca Juniors like myself understands that a Primera Division without River is like La Liga without Real Madrid and/or Barcelona. Or a Premier League without Manchester United. Or Ligue 1 without Paris St. Germain and Olympique de Marseille. Or the Fussball-Bundesliga without Bayern Munich. See the pattern?
You want the proof in the pudding? How about an all-time leading 33 Primera titles, two Copa Libertadores, an Intercontinental Cup, a Copa Interamericana and a Supercopa Sudamericana in their 110 year-stay in the top flight of Argentine football.
It's a tradition that has resulted in the rise of players like Angel Labruna, Oscar Mas, Bernabe Ferreyra, Jose Manuel Moreno, Norberto Alonso, Adolfo Pedemera, Enzo Francescoli, Carlos Peucelle, Carlos Manuel Moreste, Felix Loustau, Hernan Crespo, Juan Pablo Sorin, Ariel Ortega, Marcelo Salas and Marcelo Gallardo.
And that is just a sample of the many great players that donned the strip of Los Millionarios. All in all, River Plate has a tradition too sacred to be left for dead in the Nacional 'B.'
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Once a Millionario, always a Millionario.
Two players from the most recent glory days of River Plate in Fernando Cavenaghi and Alejandro Dominguez will be rejoining the side this season in the hopes of a successful comeback to the top flight.
Also boosting the hopes of a return to the Primera Division is the appointment of a former player as manager in Matias Almeyda.
"I am convinced we can turn things around and I am looking forward to the prospect of leading River back into the top flight," Almeyda told reporters in July. "I am new to the job and only time will tell if I am able to transmit my belief to the players.
"I want a team that is strong, fast and combative, but I also want a team that plays football, because in recent times River have struggled to play good football."
You have to applaud the commitment of those who want to save a club they played for in the past from further depths of despair. Will it pay off?
3. Promotion Is Not Impossible
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While a Nacional B title would be a welcome sight this year, it is not needed. River Plate only need to finish in the top two of the league table after the Apertura and Clausura campaigns conclude.
Furthermore, their only major tests would be the matches with Gimnasia de La Plata, Gimnasia de Jujuy, Huracan, Quilmes, Atletico Tucuman and Rosario Central.
Otherwise, the caliber of team River will bring to their Nacional B campaign will likely see them back in the top flight.
They can take solace that they won't have the likes of the other Buenos Aires heavyweights to deal with. (Though they may have to put up with them again once the comeback is complete.)
But they have to do the work against the teams mentioned in this slide.
4. The Fans
The irony of this argument is that it will be the support of these same fans that will push River onward to the Primera Division next season.
Buoyed by tradition, endless pride and a desire to watch their players play for the shirt and win titles under the shirt, the fan support River Plate has from all corners of the globe are a legit reason why Los Millionarios's stay in the second division will only last a year.
5. Even Great Teams Need Their Piece of Humble Pie
River Plate have a chance to place themselves in the company of those storied clubs that have taken the drop, only to rise back up.
Welcome to the company of Manchester United, Olympique de Marseille, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Fiorentina, Corinthians, Napoli, Fiorentina and Hapoel Tel Aviv, according to the video shown on this slide and on goal.com.
If these storied clubs can bounce back and return to business in the top tier in their respective countries, why not River Plate? After all, even the greatest of clubs are due for their piece of humble pie sooner or later.