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 against
The tribal rivalry already has begun to spill over into nasty
scenes off the field at River’s Monumental Stadium.
About 500 River Plate fans gathered outside the stadium to burn
the jersey of Boca Juniors midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme. The
former Barcelona star could make the difference in only his second
match since returning from knee surgery six months ago.
The scene Sunday, with Riquelme’s No. 10 shirt in ashes and
hoisted on a stick for all to see, was condemned by the sports
”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
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
”If the coach does not change things and make them better, we
will change the coach,” Boca vice president Juan Carlos Crespi
Neither team has won a league title since 2008, nor come close.
This season, River has 18 points and Boca 17. Velez, the leader,