Rebuilt Racing wins Argentine league

In Diego Milito's first season back in Argentina the former Inter Milan star led Racing to the title. Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

BUENOS AIRES -- There was suffering, it's true. Because the 1-0 score against a tepid Godoy Cruz squad didn't look like a sure result once River Plate, in second place two points behind Racing at the start of Sunday and playing at the same time, took the lead against Quilmes.

But the anxiety didn't last long. Racing was immediately able to celebrate their long-sought title after a 13-year dry spell.

The final outcome of the match (an almost permanently subdued opponent) and the league (Diego Cocca's squad marched slow and steady, making a final sprint of six consecutive victories, allowing zero goals) were rather predictable.

It is something odd in the history of a club that, in recent decades, has accustomed us to club and match disasters. It's not that Racing has transformed its genetic instability, but this time it emerged from the standard crisis with greater maturity, without completely throwing in the towel, and with belief in the future.

Because, although everything is roses now, just one year ago (end of September 2013), Racing, just to change things up, was mired in a crisis that shook the entire club. Club president Gastón Cogorno and vice president Rodolfo Molina resigned, and Víctor Blanco, a mild-mannered businessman who was the second vice president, had to take charge in a pinch (not very convincingly). Meanwhile, the team was in last place.

On this occasion, disaster kept its distance. Instead, oddly, the battered club slowly rebuilt itself and grew a thicker skin. Halfway through this year, a new, hopeful era began with the arrival of Cocca, a complete overhaul of the squad and the return of idol Diego Milito.

But Racing got caught in its own trap. After being knocked out of the Copa Argentina, the team's fragile morale showed itself once more.

The coach was very critical with the squad (he could have easily burned some bridges), and Blanco added fuel to the fire with the remoteness afforded by his position and a surprising lack of tact: He insinuated that some players weren't giving their all.

Halfway through the season, you had a coach upset at the first misstep and a president speaking as freely as the fans in the cheap seats.

Yet there was no major damage. Abandoning tradition, Racing didn't fall off. And Cocca didn't dismantle the team either. Instead, with a few player changes and some tactical repositioning, they got back on track.

Although the squad was completely new and was expected to take some time to fully mesh, the pieces fit surprisingly fast: a rare stroke of luck in Racing history.

With the storm behind him, Cocca kept calm (even when the fans protested him holding placards), trusted his players, even the hardest nuts to crack like Gustavo Bou, and kept the team moving forward.

The team emerged from the storm standing on both feet with a confidence uncharacteristic of such a crisis. Racing had become a compact team, built around its defensive backbone (goalkeeper Sebastian Saja and the back four, where an incredible Luciano Lollo and a tireless Ezequiel Videla stood out) and a pragmatic, effective attack. Milito's vision and intelligence was a bonus that clicked at just the right time with a blooming Bou.

Patience, consistency, calm in the eye of the storm, solid play, club backing, and a cohesive squad willing to improve. And luck, of course, because without a little luck, you don't win anything. Racing looks strong, from another world. Racing are champions.