By Luis Ampuero
BUENOS AIRES, May 16 (Reuters) - Argentine league leaders River Plate are going for an eighth successive home win over Quilmes on Sunday (2030 GMT) that will secure the title and end six years of failure including their traumatic first relegation.
River, looking for a record 35th league championship, lead the Final tournament with 34 points, two more than Estudiantes and three ahead of Gimnasia.
Coach Ramon Diaz's team, with few survivors of the side relegated in 2011, are in the best position to pick up their first title since 2008 when Diego Simeone was in charge.
A draw with Quilmes will be enough if Estudiantes do not win at Tigre. But if Estudiantes win in Juan Sebastian Veron's last match before retiring, they would go into a playoff with River since goal difference is not taken into account.
Only a River defeat and a draw for Estudiantes would give Gimnasia a chance of going into a playoff. But they must beat Boca Juniors, who are closing their championship with a flourish looking for a fifth win in a row, at La Bombonera.
"We're dreaming of reaching our objective. We all want to win and know we're close to something beautiful," said River's Colombia striker Teofilo Gutierrez.
"I don't know if it will be my last match (with River) but I want to enjoy it with my team mates," added Gutierrez, who will be going to the World Cup finals in Brazil with Colombia next month.
PRESSURE ON RIVER
Veron could add a second league title to his Estudiantes tally after helping them to victory in 2006 under Simeone in a playoff with Boca on his return from a decade in Europe.
The 39-year-old believes the pressure is all on River, saying: "We'll try to do our job and hope they drop points on the way. In this finish, they have 85 percent of the burden (of succeeding)."
Gimnasia defender Lucas Licht is hoping for a miracle.
"Aside from the fact that there are minimum chances in football, there are also miracles and let's hope they happen," he said.
Quilmes, meanwhile, avoided relegation last weekend with their 2-0 home win over Gimnasia.
Three teams, Atletico Rafaela, Colon and Godoy Cruz, are fighting to avoid joining relegated Argentinos Juniors and All Boys in the second tier Primera B Nacional next season.
Given the bizarre nature of relegation in Argentina, determined by teams' average points over three seasons, the three clubs were vying for the championship lead at different stages in the campaign.
Outgoing champions San Lorenzo, who won the Inicial title in the first half of the season and on Wednesday booked their place in the South American Libertadores Cup semi-finals to be played after the World Cup, close their campaign at home to Velez Sarsfield on Monday. (Writing by Rex Gowar; Editing by Justin Palmer)
- Sports & Recreation
- Diego Simeone
- Juan Sebastian Veron