River Plate and Boca Juniors will face each other in a friendly edition of el Superclásico (the super-derby) on Saturday, January 18, 2014 (5:00 PM Pacific, 10:00 PM Argentina) at José María Minella stadium in the seashore city of Mar del Plata. The match is the last one of the summer friendly pre-season tournament “Copa de Oro” (Golden Cup), played by River, Boca and Estudiantes de La Plata. This Superclásico is the first one out of three scheduled for the next two weeks – the others will be on January 25 in Córdoba and on February 1 in Mendoza.
Both River and Boca had already faced Estudiantes (both playing with an alternate team), with a draw 1-1 in the case of River last Saturday, and a loss 0-1 for Boca last Wednesday. Estudiantes have 4 points and therefore Boca can’t win the tournament, and River need a win in order to reach Estudiantes’ position. Anyway, the tournament itself isn’t relevant due to its friendly character, but both River and Boca want to win the Superclásico because it’s a very important game for the fans, even when it’s a friendly one. In fact, hundreds of fans spent the whole night queuing in front of the box office, and the tickets that weren’t offered for sale in internet were sold out on a few hours.
River Plate manager Ramón Díaz spoke to the press about the match and the team: “We know that we have to play an important match, but I think that the most important thing is the way the team is working, the attitude the players have, the responsibility they’ll assume facing such an important match”.
He also emphasized the importance of the match when he talked about the team and made it clear that it definitely wouldn’t be an alternate one: “In these kind of matches we’ll always put the best we have, in order to satisfy the fans’ expectations”. [source: Olé]
The only doubt for the lineup in River Plate is Colombian defender Éder Álvarez Balanta, who has muscle fatigue and did special training on Thursday. If the match comes too soon for him, Rodrigo Funes Mori will take his place. The rest of the team was confirmed by Ramón Díaz, and the lineup will be a 4-3-1-2 with Barovero; Maidana, Mercado, Funes Mori or Balanta, Vangioni; Carbonero, Ledesma, Ponzio; Lanzini; Gutiérrez, Cavenaghi.
On the other hand, Boca Juniors have a few players injured. The key midfielder and captain Juan Román Riquelme is training in a relaxed way, recovering from an adductor strain suffered in a match against All Boys on November 24. Moreover, central defender Claudio Pérez (thigh injury in training) and striker Claudio Riaño (thigh injury last Wednesday in the match against Estudiantes) won’t be available to play on Saturday.
The xeneixes’ manager, Carlos Bianchi, is using these pre-season training matches to try new tactical systems. He has changed his usual scheme from a 4-3-1-2 to a 4-2-3-1, a very used system in Europe. After the loss against Estudiantes, he said that despite the result, he liked the new scheme: “I’m pretty comfortable with the scheme, although the striker was a little lonely. The wingers should get closer to him. We’ll keep on working.” [source: Infobae].
Bianchi put the same lineup in trainings all the week, which is believed to be the starting lineup against River on Saturday, a 4-2-3-1 with: Orion; Grana, Díaz, Forlín, Zárate; Gago, Ledesma; Martínez, Acosta, Sánchez Miño; Gigliotti.
River Plate vs Boca Juniors Prediction
It’s difficult to make a prediction for a match of this kind, because both teams haven’t played any games recently (the matches against Estudiantes were with an alternate team). However, I think that River Plate players are more focused, maybe because they want to take revenge for the last Superclásico, in which Boca defeated River on the road in the Torneo Inicial 2013 (Argentinian league tournament). My prediction is a 1-0 victory for River Plate.
River Plate vs Boca Juniors Television
The match will be televised on Fox Deportes (USA), and Fox Sports (Argentina).
River Plate vs Boca Juniors Highlights
Match highlights will be uploaded into this section as soon as the match ends.