River Plate meets Boca Juniors in ‘superclasico’

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

Inter Milan.

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

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 come close.

This season, River has 18 points and Boca 17. Velez, the leader,

has 30.