Original article appears on Pundit Arena.
El Monumental, Buenos Aires is the setting on Sunday night for one of the fiercest rivalries in world football – River Plate vs. Boca Juniors – El Superclásico. Both have had contrasting starts to the Primera División with Los Millonarios leading the league undefeated while Los Xeneizes sit in 13th having only won four games from a possible nine.
Boca sacked legendary manager Carlos Bianchi after a miserable start to the season, winning just one game in the first four and replaced him with former defender Rodolfo Arruabarrena, who has only lost one in his seven games in the dugout. A win against their bitter rivals will adhere him to the fans for sure.
There will be plenty of talent on display during the game. These are teams that have had at one stage or another the likes of Radamel Falcao, Carlos Tevez, Gabriel Batistuta, Juan Román Riquelme, Hernán Crespo and one Diego Maradona on their books. A new age of players are taking the task of keeping this derby game alive and kicking and will not disappoint.
River Plate will be looking to Teofilo Gutierrez, the league’s top scorer to lead them to victory on Sunday. The Colombian has been on fire since the start of the season, scoring eight goals in eight games. He will be hoping to be supported by the likes of Leonardo Pisculichi, Carlos Sánchez, Tomás Martínez and his striking partner Rodrigo Mora.
Their opponents will look be looking for their attackers to up their game. Emanuel Gigliotti, Andrés Chávez and Jonathan Calleri have only scored twice each so far this season. Boca fans will be looking to Federico Carrizo to supply the ball to the forwards. The 23-year-old has provided two assists this season and will most likely play alongside captain Fernando Gago in the centre of midfield.
The only thing this game will lack is the Boca fans. Argentina’s government has banned visiting supporters from attending away games in an effort to prevent violence and hooliganism in the Argentinean game. However, that hasn’t prevented the Boca hierarchy from throwing a few sly jabs in the build up to the game. “The stands of El Monumental are only full when they [River Plate] come out champions,” stated Juan Carlos Crespi, the Boca Juniors vice president. He continued with the suggestion that Boca is better club than Bayern Munich because they have won more titles than the Bavarian club. A most audacious claim, to say the least.
River Plate, as previously mentioned, are undefeated with three solid wins over Independiente, Godoy Cruz and Tigre and two draws against Lanús and Arsenal in their last five games. Boca Juniors have three wins over Quilmes, Rosario Central and Olimpo, a draw against Banfield and a loss against Racing Club, which make up their last five games.
The head-to-head over the past five meetings between these teams lean in the favour of the home side with three wins going to River Plate, a win to Boca Juniors and the single draw. Eleven goals were scored over those five games, which shows that the games are usually tight. River’s 2-0 win back in January was the only time one of the opposite teams failed to score. It was also the highest margin of victory. Viewers can expect another tight game on Sunday as Boca Juniors attempt to cut the deficit between themselves and the league leaders.
If you are looking for something to do on Sunday night, a high to end the week before heading off to the office on Monday morning, do yourself a favour and watch this match. “Derby day in Buenos Aires makes the Old Firm game look like a primary school kick-about,” wrote Gavin Hamilton in The Observer. It is a game that will be intense and passionate, one that shows why football is such a great spectacle worldwide.
For a taste of what El Superclásico is about watch the video below.