Atlético Tucumán is living not only the best campaign in its history -at least in terms of the start, eleven dates played- but also the best five years in its history of almost 120 years (it will be on September 27). It shows in the expectation that they have and that is shown from the city and in each appointment in the Monumental José Fierro, his stadium that is a party by game.
The campaign is one joy after another for their own and an astonishment for others. Eleven games: seven wins, four draws. They barely scored three goals against him (he has the least defeated bow in the tournament). He has six consecutive victories and without receiving (the best streak of his life).
“There is no need to despair. Calmly, calmly, as we have been doing. There is a long way to go”, coach Lucas Pusineri usually says. And that is the first of the mandates of a team that fulfills it to the letter. And from that tranquility, it seems, the very visible defensive solidity and the ability to take advantage of its favorable moments in each party.
A constant of the tournament: the celebrations of Atlético Tucumán.
But it’s not just this momentum that has him leading and undefeated in the tournament. It is a process that, beyond the names, takes its long days. It is worth remembering: reached the final of the Argentine Cup in 2017. River broke his dream in the decisive match.
That same year he played in the Copa Libertadores (for the first time in the history of a Northern team). And that time, he not only represented his province and his region, but all of Argentina’s soccer fans. Atlético was everyone’s team. The goals of Luis Miguel Rodríguez were shouted, the fleaas if they were their own. The team reached the group stage with a victory in Quito against El Nacional playing with the national team shirt.
To the next Libertadores he continued his legend: Reached the quarterfinals after eliminating Atlético Nacional (2016 champion). Guild (defender of the title) stopped him in that instance. In 2020 he returned to play the maximum competition of Conmebol. In this period he also played the South American twice (2017 and 2020). One of the nicknames The dean was justified: The Giant of the North.
Nevertheless, the archrival has an antidote to this remarkable cycle. It is the only team from the North (including all the teams from the NEA and NOA provinces) that won an absolute competition: San Martín de Tucumán won the 1944 Republic Cup, an official AFA title.
On his way to the trophy, he passed the first phase of the Interior Group and qualified as one of the best four to face in the final phase with the 4 semifinalists of the British Competition Cup that year (disputed by the First teams and won by Hurricane in the final against Boca). The Saint won the final of the Republic Cup against Newell’s, after eliminating Boca and Sarmiento from Resistencia, Chaco. Now, San Martín de Tucumán is fighting for a return to A (it is second, six points behind Belgrano).
For football in the North, this is a moment of relevant prominence. A team from a neighboring province can also attest: Central Córdoba from Santiago del Estero reached the final of the Copa Argentina in 2019 (he lost it to River) and is also experiencing Primera days like never before (beyond his campaigns in the Nationals and being the first indirectly affiliated team to beat Boca at La Bombonera). Now, he seeks to hold on to the A and he is achieving it.
However, always including the teams from the NOA (Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca, La Rioja and Santiago del Estero) and the NEA (Formosa, Chaco, Corrientes, Misiones), Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy is the one that added the most points and played the most games. He accumulated 531 points in 559 games. And on four occasions he was in the top 4 of Primera: in the 1975 Nacional and in the Clausura of 1998 and 2006. The names of Mario Lobo, Luis Lobo (key in the early days of El Gran DT), Hernán Castellano, Daniel Ramasco, Carlos Morales Santos and, of course, the world champion José Daniel Valencia, and the coach Francisco Ferraro.
Completing the top 5 in the region: Atlético Tucumán (second in points; third in games), San Martín de Tucumán (third in points; second in games), Mandiyú de Corrientes and Chaco For Ever.
There were other teams that, through the Regional and/or National B they came to flirt with accessing the international arena through the Liguilla Pre Libertadores. All were left out in the first stage: in 1986, Güemes de Santiago del Estero (lost to Ferro 4-2 on aggregate), Concepción Fútbol Club de Tucumán (against Vélez, 4-2) and Guaraní de Misiones (against San Lorenzo 7-1); in 1988, Mandiyú drew his two matches with San Lorenzo 1-1 and fell by the wayside because he came from Nacional B; and in 1988 Chaco For Ever fell to Boca 3-1 on aggregate. The international illusions were soon undone.
Meanwhile, Salta had two representatives in the highest category: Gimnasia y Tiro (104 matches) and Central Norte (96 matches). Formosa added 18 presentations with Sportivo Patria; and La Rioja had the presence of Andino on six occasions. All of them continue to imagine the same thing that Atlético is now seeking to embrace: glory. To be pride of the North. Prove that it also exists. Nothing less.