Matias Kranevitter and the 5 Players to Impress at Primera Division Midway Point
The Argentine championship stops for no man. Due to the short tournament format, where a season lasts just 19 games, the coming weekend sees the Transicion creep ever closer to the halfway point. The front-runners and stragglers have already begun to become apparent, as have the stars of the show.
Who has shined so far in the Transicion, pushing their team on to victory in one of the world's most competitive top divisions?
Five of the best performers so far are highlighted in this list, although there are plenty of other stars who could have been included.
With six victories and two draws, River Plate are comfortable leaders at this point. Their dominance is reflected with no less than three representatives in this prestigious quintet.
5. Leonardo Pisculichi, River Plate
If there was any doubt over Leonardo Pisculichi's ability to perform for River after stepping up from Argentinos Juniors in the last transfer window, they have been emphatically dispelled. The 30-year-old playmaker has slotted seamlessly into the Millonario squad, proving a more than able replacement for outgoing youngster Manuel Lanzini.
After opening the scoring in a 4-1 drubbing of Independiente on Sunday, Pisculichi stepped up again against Arsenal to fire home and salvage a draw. He currently boasts four goals in the Transicion, making the midfielder River's second-highest scorer.
However, his game is so much more than goals. Pisculichi dictates the tempo of Marcelo Gallardo's River team, speeding up play in the transition phase and pushing them forward to batter their opponents across the 90 minutes.
4. Diego Milito, Racing Club
The return of Diego Milito to his beloved Racing Club was one of the most exciting transfers of the Argentine winter window this July.
So far, despite an injury that kept the veteran and former Inter man out of three matches, Milito has lived up to all expectations in Avellaneda.
Three goals in six games only tells part of the story. El Principe has been crucial to Racing's efforts this year, providing a class and strength up front hard to find in other places.
It is no coincidence that La Academia have failed to win a single match without their centre-forward, who even at 37 years old shows no signs of slowing down.
3. Teofilo Gutierrez, River Plate
Teofilo Gutierrez's quality is no secret. The striker first burst into Argentine consciousnesses in 2011 during a successful yet turbulent spell with Racing, and he confirmed his talent with a place in Colombia's 2014 World Cup squad as an able deputy for Radamel Falcao.
However, the Transicion season has seen the River man reach new levels. Under the attacking tutelage of Gallardo, the Colombian has been outstanding in front of goal and is one of the key reasons why the Millonario are sitting pretty at the summit after eight games.
Teo has smashed seven goals already in the Transicion, putting him at the top of the scoring charts. Until Thursday's draw, he had found the net in nine consecutive games, raising hopes he would break Bernabe Ferreyra's record of 12 straight matches set all the way back in 1932 before Arsenal quashed that dream.
2. Federico Mancuello, Independiente
Independiente have endured a rollercoaster ride in their first season back among the big boys. Impressive victories have been tempered by two heavy defeats against Velez Sarsfield and River, showing that Jorge Almiron's men have a little way to go to consolidate their place among the best.
The start to the season could have been even rougher if not for one man. Attacking midfielder Federico Mancuello came up from the youth ranks in Avellaneda, and he has been simply fantastic in leading a team that goes forward with real style.
Mancuello notched the winner in the team's 2-1 victory over rivals Racing, and he has hit the net a total of six times to sit as the Primera Division's second top scorer.
The 25-year-old is a master of the late burst into the box and is one to watch for the future as he continues his rapid improvement.
1. Matias Kranevitter, River Plate
Football fans unfamiliar with the name Matias Kranevitter will not get a chance to see him again this year. A broken metatarsal bone has ruled out the young midfielder until 2015, depriving him of the chance to continue developing his game in Argentina's form team.
Kranevitter's performances this season have been nothing short of inspired.
The Tucuman native has inspired inevitable comparisons with Javier Mascherano thanks to his tough tackling and intelligent distribution from the middle. Kranevitter's absence was sorely felt on Thursday in River's 1-1 draw with Arsenal de Sarandi, and the club will have to bounce back without their young talisman turning heads.