Núnez club seeks to regroup after trouncing by LanúsFriday, February 10, 2017
No time to lose for River
For the Herald
The Primera División season continues without a fixed date for its return, as the clubs and the Argentine Football Association remain at loggerheads. A tournament that was slated to begin the past weekend could still be paralysed going into March, unless a breakthrough is made. But even that tentative start date may be too soon for River Plate, if the evidence of Saturday’s Supercopa drubbing at the hands of Lanús is anything to go by.
Marcelo Gallardo’s men were outclassed on the way to a 3-0 defeat, in what was the first glimpse of top-class professional soccer in 2017. The Millonario was competitive until the final stages, but fell badly short as Lautaro Acosta, Nicolás Pasquini and José Sand struck in quick succession to decide the fixture. The problem for Gallardo is clear: despite having plenty of quality in his first team, behind his starters there is a serious lack of depth for a season that will also include Copa Libertadores action.
River has yet to use both of the two signings allowed by the AFA for the coming six months, and time is running out if it wishes to strengthen. Walter Montoya had been the prime candidate, but Jorge Sampaoli eventually won out over both the Núñez club and Boca Juniors in convincing the ex-Central midfielder to join Sevilla. Carlos Auzqui is the only new face around the Monumental, and on the evidence of Saturday that will not be enough to fight on two fronts.
There is no reason to panic just yet. Gallardo has proven time and again he can get the best out of a limited playing staff and continue to win trophies, and he might just do it again in 2017. But there is still plenty of work to do. River might be the only team in the country praying for a little more time before the Primera makes its long-delayed kick-off, and they will need every minute to put things right in time.