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ARGENTINE OPEN FINAL PREVIEW: WILL HISTORY FORETELL THE FUTURE?

Darlene Ricker | 11/30/17

Here we go again! For the fourth consecutive year the Argentine Open final on Saturday features Ellerstina v. La Dolfina in a gorilla match-up of the two-highest rated teams (39 goals and 40 goals respectively). La Dolfina has gotten the better of Ellerstina in their previous three Argentine Open final matches, including last year’s 16-12 victory. Last year’s final was tied at 11-11 after the first six chukkers before La Dolfina pulled away late in the game.

No telling what that means for this year. If you have a bet with your buddies on the game, maybe this comparison of last year’s and this year’s Ellerstina/La Dolfina stats will give you an edge. Or not. But hey, if nothing else, it’s always fun to speculate.

SHOOTING PERCENTAGES

Leading in nearly every offensive category this season, La Dolfina has produced nearly five more goals and field goals per game than the next closest team. They reached their undefeated 4-0 record behind an elite passing attack that utilizes all four players attacking goal at various times throughout the game. Although La Dolfina is only ranked sixth in the 2017 Argentine Open in shot percentage, they outshoot their opponents by such a significant margin that the lower shooting percentage is pretty much irrelevant. In last year’s final La Dolfina outshot Ellerstina 26-13, shooting twice as often as Ellerstina, despite shooting 58% compared to 70% for Ellerstina. The result of those extra shots was five more field goals in the game, in line with this year’s statistics.

THROW-IN WINS/POSSESSION

Dominating possession has been La Dolfina’s key to success as they look to increase the pace, benefiting their passing attack. They did that in last year’s final by winning 24 of the 35 throw-ins, a key stat that put Ellerstina on the defensive too many times throughout the game. La Dolfina has continued to show strong throw-in proficiency in this year’s Argentine Open, winning the second most throw-ins of any team.

Ellerstina will be looking to improve on those throw-ins during this year’s match-up and are showing that they are capable of doing so, leading all teams with 16.3 throw-in wins per game. Maintaining possession is a difficult task against La Dolfina, but winning the throw-in battle can help Ellerstina in beginning their own attacks before being pressured defensively.

THE DEFENSE

Ellerstina has used efficient shooting from the field as the foundation of their attack in the Argentine Open, yet in last year’s final it wasn’t enough to overcome La Dolfina. Ellerstina’s key to success may be on the defensive end, as allowing 26 shots again will not help Ellerstina’s chances. Allowing just over one goal less per game in this year’s Argentine Open compared to last year, Ellerstina will need to provide an improved defensive performance, with 10-goalers Facundo Pieres and Nico Pieres the crucial players in the #3 and #4 positions.

PASSING ATTACK

The game may be decided by which team can better manage the passing attack of the other team and prevent high percentage scoring chances. If Ellerstina reduces La Dolfina’s chances and produces a similar number of shot attempts, their high percentage shooting provides them with a better opportunity for the victory. In last year’s final Polito Pieres was held without a field goal, but this year he has been an offensive force, averaging 7.5 goals per game and will help Ellerstina’s chances if he can continue producing at that rate. La Dolfina’s duo of Adolfo Cambiaso and David Stirling were effective against Ellerstina in last year’s final, combining on the pass for nine field goals. They have been just as impactful during this year’s Argentine Open, averaging a combined 9.3 field goals, a key area of La Dolfina’s attack that Ellerstina will need to slow down.

WATCH THE GAME: The Argentine Open final takes place in Palermo this Saturday, December 2, at 4:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern time). ESPN will live stream the game. You can watch on your phone or ipad: http://espni.go.com/player/video/ESPNPlayPolo/index.htm