River Plate meets Boca Juniors in 'superclasico'
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP)
River Plate and Boca Juniors are in pitiful shape, mired deep in the standings and endlessly firing coaches.
None of that diminishes Tuesday's ''superclasico'' derby between the famous Buenos Aires clubs, a seasonal showdown that matches the intensity of Barcelona against Real Madrid or AC Milan versus Inter Milan.
The heated tribal rivalry has already begun to spill over into nasty scenes off the pitch at River's Monumental stadium.
About 500 River Plate fans gathered outside the stadium to burn the jersey of Boca Juniors creative midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme. The former Barcelona star could make the difference in only his second match since returning from surgery six months ago on his left knee.
The scene Sunday, with Riquelme's No. 10 shirt in ashes and hoisted on a stick for all to see, was condemned by sports newspaper Ole.
''It's logical there were songs of support for the team - and against Boca,'' the newspaper said. ''This is part of the folklore. The other, it's clear, is not folklore.''
River probably has more at stake in front of the expected crowd of 50,000 at its home ground.
Last week, the club fired Angel Cappa - the third River coach dismissed in 13 months - following seven straight games without a victory. Only hours later, the high profile Marcelo Bielsa and Americo Gallego turned down the job, leaving River in the hands of the club's junior team coach, Juan Jose Lopez.
River is also facing the drop. Relegation in Argentina is based on results over three seasons. As it now stands, River will face a playoff against a second-division club. Only three clubs in Argentina have never been relegated - River, Boca and Independiente.
Boca has its own share of problems.
Claudio Borghi was appointed coach in May - Boca's fourth in four months - after having led Argentinos Juniors to the Clausura title. So far, he has produced little. Last week, Borghi also mentioned leaving, with club officials talking openly about firing him.
''If the coach does not change things and make them better, we will change the coach,'' Boca vice president Juan Carlos Crespi said.
Neither team has won a league title since 2008, nor have they even come close. River took the Clausura that season and Boca won the Apertura. This season, River has 18 points and Boca 17. Leader Velez has 30.