South American football boff and Daily Mirror journalist Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) previews the Copa Sudamericana second leg between River Plate and Boca Juniors.
River Plate v Boca Juniors | Thursday 23.45 | Bet365 TV
At the weekend, River Plate (1st) played Racing Club (2nd) in the Argentine Primera. There are only a couple of games remaining in the season and their lead was slender, but River put out a weakened side, lost and have possibly just thrown away the national championship.
Why? Because they decided their Copa Sudamericana semi-final with Boca Juniors was more important, and that begins to give you an idea of the rivalry between these two clubs.
The Sudamericana isn’t even South America’s biggest club competition but when these archrivals meet it doesn’t matter what trophy is on offer – something far more important is at stake.
Last week’s first leg was a scrappy affair, ending 0-0 at a sodden Bombonera. With the tie to be decided at River’s Estadio Monumental, the Millionarios are unsurprisingly favourites.
They have been a better side than Boca all season and, despite their dip in form since losing Matias Kranevitter, they should have enough to edge a win against their great enemies.
Superclasicos are famous for turning up few goals, and this shouldn’t be any different. The visitors are blunted without the injured Juan Manuel Martinez, one of their players most likely to provide penetration.
River will rely on the creative talents of Leonardo Pisculichi, while up front Rodrigo Mora has a great record in derby games.
The home side will also be driven by the desire to win it for their coach, Marcelo Gallardo, who this week mourns the death of his mother. Gallardo has been a revelation since taking over in July and his players are desperate to get a result for ‘El muñeco’.
Anything longer than evens is a price worth taking on River Plate, with a sneaky feeling that Mora will once again grab a crucial goal against his side’s most hated rivals.
River Plate v Boca Juniors – River Plate to win (1/1 William Hill)