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August 22, 2014
Sunday, October 28, 2012

Boca, River end up tied after last minute goals

River Plate fans buy tickets for the match against Boca Juniors at the Monumental stadium.

The Superclásico showdown between River Plate and Boca Juniors ended in a 2-2 tie after Boca scored two goals minutes before the game was over.

The Millonarios had taken a shocking early goal in the first minute after midfielder Leonardo Ponzio banked in a long free kick that surprised goalie Agustín Orión with its bounce.

It’s called the “Superclásico”, the showdown between Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate, Argentina’s two best known clubs.

The passion and the threat of violence will be there again when the teams meet today at River Plate’s Monumental stadium at 3.30pm. Both sides lack big-name stars and neither is a real title contender in the Initial Tournament.

It doesn’t matter. This is a game apart, and winning it is like taking the league title. Boca coach Julio César Falcioni and River’s Matías Almeyda are both under increasing pressure, and a loss will only make it worse.

River Plate defender Gabriel Mercado may return today, 45 days after tearing ligaments in his right knee. No holding back.

“If I have to go all out against Boca and test the knee, I will,” he said. “I won’t hold back at all. I hope the knee can take it. Everybody is waiting for this match, not just players at River and Boca. I’ll put everything into it.”

The best-known players for both teams are at the end of their careers, like River Plate forward David Trezeguet. The 35-year-old Trezeguet, who was born in France but grew up in Buenos Aires, is playing in Argentina after winding down as a star with Juventus and the French national team. He is likely to partner Uruguay’s Rodrigo Mora up front. Boca, who counters with Santiago Silva and Lucas Viatri, have suffered since midfield playmaker Juan Román Riquelme left the team after last season.

Without star players to focus on, the attention turns to Falcioni and Almeyda.

Falcioni is under the most pressure. Despite winning a recent league title and reaching the final of this year’s Libertadores Cup, Falcioni is unpopular with most Boca fans. He cancelled a post-game news conference last weekend after a 0-0 draw at La Bombonera against Estudiantes and was jeered when he left the field.

Boca have picked up only two points in their last four matches and have 17 points, two ahead of River with 15.

Almeyda coached River last season and returned them to the first division after being relegated in June 2011. Lodged in the middle of the standings, relegation is always a possibility again.

River and Boca have not played each other in a competitive match in 17 months, though they did play two friendlies in January and Boca won both.

The record over the last 19 competitive matches is nearly even. Boca have won seven, River have won six, and six were draws.

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