December 20, 2014
Final tournamentMonday, May 19, 2014
This time, tears of joy
River leaves relegation behind clinching the title three years later
It’s incredible how everything can change in only three years. In 2011, River Plate players left the field crying after losing a promotion-relegation playoff against Belgrano at a packed Monumental stadium and the club were dropped for the first time in its history. The fans ripped up seats and threw them on the pitch, and the violence spilled on to the streets of Núñez.
Almost three years later, there were tears but of joy. Same venue, but different reactions. Coach Ramón Díaz led the team to its 35th league title after thrashing Quilmes 5-0 and the match was a fantastic party for the local fans, who instead of entering the field, stayed on their seats to celebrate.
The players, coaches and officials have changed since 2011. Rodolfo D’Onofrio, club president, told the Herald during his election campaign that he wants to put River at the top of the world again, where it deserve to be. The club took the first step yesterday after winning its first title in six years (without counting the National B championship) and qualifying for the Libertadores Cup.
Díaz, River’s most successful coach in its history, finally found the team after a poor campaign in the last tournament. With central defender Jonatan Maidana, defensive midfielder Cristian Ledesma, right midfielder Carlos Carbonero, playmaker Manuel Lanzini and striker Fernando Cavenaghi as key players during the competition, River seemed to play to win at home and avoid defeat as visitors. The club lost only one game at the Monumental stadium and won the rest of them there. As visitors, River only won two games, one of them against arch rival Boca Juniors at La Bombonera.
Honestly, in this Argentine league which is getting more even every day, it is the perfect way to secure a place among the title contenders.
In the Initial Tournament, San Lorenzo took the title with 33 points, the lowest in the league’s history. River finished with 37, but also sealed the championship with an outstanding 5-0 victory. Years ago, the champions usually finished with more than 40 points.
During this campaign, Colombian Carbonero, criticized during his first tournament with the team, was the most regular player. With six goals and many assists, the midfielder was a key part of the team. Also in the middle were Ledesma, who aged 35 showed with great performances that he is still fit to command the midfield, and Lanzini, who with his skills and pace created danger in the rival’s box. Captain Cavenaghi finished as the leading goalscorer of the team with eight goals, but it’s also important to recognize the performances of Maidana in defence, who was solid during the whole tournament.
River is a deserved champion. Now is time to see which players will leave and which will arrive during the preseason to start the next league the best way possible.