The Primera Division in Argentina forms the topmost category of football in the country. Organized by the Argentine Football Association, the league hosts 20 teams and is considered to be one of the strongest in the world. More teams from the country have won the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and the Intercontinental Cup (no longer player), than any other country in the world.
The league follows a format of 20 teams participating in two single round-robin tournaments every season. From February to June, the teams participate in what is known as the Clausura championships, or the “Closing” championships. The Apertura Championships, or the “Opening” championships are played between August to December. The names are such to mimic the league format in the Northern Hemisphere where August marks the beginning of the league championship and June marks the end.
This format was first introduced in 1990 to standardize things across the globe as Southern Hemisphere teams were more accustomed to having a season that followed the format of the calendar year.
Due to two separate championship formats, relegation at the end of the season is based on an “average” system. At the end of each season, the last three years’ average is seen for all the teams and the two teams with the worst records are relegated. With 19th & 20th out of the way, the 17th and 18th placed teams participate in a playoff with the 4th & 3rd placed team from the second division, respectively. The teams play across two legs and points determine the result, unlike the European format of aggregate goals. For teams that have been newly promoted, the average of the seasons since their last promotion is taken, when judging performances at the end of the season.
The spots for the Copa Libertadores are allocated to the champions of the Apertura and Clausura championships as well as three other teams who have ranked the highest amongst the points. The problem with this format is that the Apertura championships end midway through the Copa Libertadores season and as a result, the champions have to wait for the next season of the cup before they can become a part of it.
For the Copa Sudamericana, Boca Juniors and River Plate are honorary invitees every year regardless of their result in the league. Other than the two, the four best placed teams in the league, from the Apertura and Clausura, are also placed alongside them. Argentine clubs have won the Copa Sudamericana 4 times out of the 6 it has been played since 2002. River Plate is the most successful team in the country’s top-flight with 33 championship titles, 25 runners-up medals and 13 third-place finishes. Boca Juniors come in second with a 22 - 18 - 14 record for First - Second and Third while Independiente are third with a 14 - 14 - 11 record. Boca Juniors is also the second most successful team in the world, with respect to international titles, behind AC Milan.