A Superclásico is a spectacle like no other in football, a stunning display of noise and color that could hold its own against similar derbies from England, Spain, Brazil, or Scotland. And this afternoon it returns to us once again at the Monumental, whenRiver Plate will look to seal a win over Boca in front of thousands of screaming fans. The match will be on TyC Sports on DirecTV at 5PM ET/2PM PT. (The match was moved to today to give River enough time to prepare the stadium after this weekend’s concert by the, um, Jonas Brothers.)
Too bad the game will mean nothing.
River Plate surrendered a late goal to draw even with newly promoted side Quilmes last night at the Monumental. Los millonarios were up 1-0 after a Mariano Pavone strike, his first for the club, in the 47th minute, but several wasted opportunities to secure the victory would be punished on a Quilmes free kick in stoppage time, with River paying the price in the form of 2 points dropped. Now, instead of being in second place in the table with 16 points, River have to settle for a two-way tie for 4th place with 14.
There is enough blame for last night’s draw to go around, but the brunt of it will be directed towards Rogelio Funes Mori. The young striker is River’s current leading goalscorer, and only one goal behind the current tournament leaders, but last night he couldn’t have hit a lake if he was standing at the bottom of it. Chance after chance, Funes Mori failed to score against a hopeless Quilmes defense. He should have earned penalty in the second half that was not called, but that does not make up for an otherwise forgettable performance.
Miraculously, River remain alive in the tournament. A win against Banfield next week coupled with some other favorable results would put us much closer to the top of the league. But the team must act quickly to get back on track. They have already blown the opportunity to take sole possession of 1st, and yesterday’s draw feels more like a loss. Even worse, the club will have to do without Matías Almeyda, who will miss up to one month after suffering a torn left hamstring and a strained posterior capsule. That he will only be out for a month is the only silver lining River can take from yesterday.
Note: Last night’s game, the final league fixture of the week, ended a forgettable weekend of football in Argentina. Only 13 goals were scored in the ten matches played, with only two games managing to score more than once. Fans showed their indifference by turning off their television sets, based on television ratings posted by Diario Olé. What does that all mean? My take is that fans are starting to recognize the poor quality of football currently on display in Argentina. Though there are some important games being played even before they midpoint of the season, fans don’t seem to be interested. Based on what I’ve seen through 7 weeks, I can’t blame them.
It seems that for every step River Plate takes towards the title, they just as easily take two huge steps back.
Needing a win to keep their place atop the league, River instead fell 1-0 away to Newell’s Old Boys Sunday afternoon. The result leaves River in a 4-way tie for third place with 13 points, and stuck once more in the relegation zone.
Newell’s scored the lone goal in the 10th minute, but despite clear chances throughout the match, River simply could not find a response. Josepmir Ballón, Alexis Ferrero, and Rogelio Funes Mori all had golden opportunities to give los millonarios the tie or even the lead, but a strong performance from NOB keeper Peratta and poor finishing in front of goal meant River would leave Rosario with an undeserved loss.
And so River continues to be their own worst enemy. Having hardly faced the strongest competition in the league, la banda continue to struggle week after week, as much in their losses as in their wins. While the club is much improved from season’s past, the line between a win and a loss is so thin that it’s impossible to see where the team is going. Had they won on Sunday, I doubt their performance would have been much different.
The title is still not out of sight, and so long as River remain within a game of first place, I believe they will have a legitimate shot at winning the league. That is of course, if they stop shooting themselves in the foot.
This weekend, River will host newly-promoted Quilmes. Guaranteed three points, right? Right??
River Plate secured an important 1-0 victory over Arsenal yesterday afternoon, sending them back to the top of the Primera table (level on 13 points with Velez and Estudiantes, the later still with a game in hand), and lifting los millonarios out of the relegation zone.
After stumbling last week in a 2-1 loss to Velez (a game I missed; seriously, I can’t remember a season where I’ve missed so many games), River desperately needed points to regain their title hopes. Against a compact Arsenal side, they struggled to create chances, only breaking through in the 74th minute thanks to a Rogelio Funes Mori header, his fourth of the season. It led to a deserved victory, though just barely.
There are some disturbing trends with this River so far, chiefly their inability to react to teams that come to play defensive football. Just like Tigre, Arsenal, despite a strong season thus far, seemed more content not to lose than win, with only one really legitimate scoring opportunity that was denied by Carrizo. But River could not find a response, only coming alive after the goal where they enjoyed some good possession. It could be that River just don’t have the quality players, or that Angel Cappa has simply failed to live up to his promise of more attractive football. Or more likely, a combination of both.
So yes, River fans are ecstatic about our first place position, but cautious. There is still a lot of games left in the season, and none of them will be easy. Case in point – a tough away fixture to Newell’s Old Boys next weekend.
Notes: A short post this week, but I hope to have more time in the coming weeks to devote to the blog. It really has been hard for me to catch games thus far, and I usually have little time to write about the games I do see. Hopefully that will change soon.
Unbelievable but true: A 0-0 draw to Argentinos Juniors and a 2-1 Vélez Sársfield’s loss to Boca over the weekend means River stand alone atop the Primera table with 10 points. (Estudiantes and Gimnasia LP will play the final round of the fixture tomorrow; an Estudiantes win would also give them 10 points.)
It has been a fantastic start for Angel Cappa’s side, now undefeated in their first four games. The season is still far from over, but a win this weekend at home to Vélez, who now share second place with Arsenal on 9 points, would put los millonarios even further ahead.
Yet with things seemingly going so well, many doubts still remain.
For one, River have hardly been invincible this season. They only just took three points from Tigre after a late goal in stoppage time, won a slim victory over Huracan, and despite outplaying Independiente in week 3, they narrowly avoided turning a deserved win into a draw. Sunday’s game against the current champions Argentinos seemed to be a step back for the club, with Cappa himself calling the team’s first half performance “horrible.”
Second, there has been scant production out of our forwards. Rogelio Funes Mori has scored three of River’s five goals so far this season, with the other two coming from midfielder Facundo Affranchino and defender Paulo Ferrari. Diego Buonanotte has looked very poor, and one wonders if he should sit out the next few games. Leandro Caruso, Mauro Díaz, and Mariano Pavone have shown little. Ariel Ortega looks sharp, but there’s no guarantee that his body will carry him throughout the season, or that he will suffer yet another of his relapses.
Surprisingly, our defense, which has been such a liability in the past, has held strong, allowing only two goals, one of which was an own goal by Juan Pablo Carrizo. Only Banfield, Estudiantes, and Gimnasia (LP) have allowed fewer.
The next three fixtures will go a long way in telling us just what this River team is made of. Again, it will be Vélez at home this weekend, then away to Arsenal, then back home to face Newell’s Old Boys, always a tough opponent. Getting 6 or 7 points from those three matches would be wonderful; nine would be fantastic. Anything less won’t kill off our title chances, but, to use an old sports cliché, it would put our destiny out of our hands.
If River can improve on their form over the next three critical matches, then just maybe we can consider this side the real deal.
River Plate continued their fantastic start to the season with a 3-2 win over rivals Independiente Sunday at the Monumental. Two first half-goals from Rogelio Funes Mori and a third from Paulo Ferrari were enough to hold los rojos to 3-1 late in the match. A Juan Pablo Carrizo own-goal close to injury time put Independiente back in the game at 3-2, but he would redeem himself moments later with an expert save that secured the win for River. The club now finds itself in first place with Vélez Sársfield with 9 points.
And of course I missed it all. Again. This time it wasn’t a lack of coverage on TV or internet, but rather being away for a long weekend in Vegas. I’m disappointed to miss another game, but nevertheless thrilled by the club’s success so far this season. Thrilled, and a little surprised.
I never would have gambled on River being at the top of the league and winning their first three games of the season. They are playing smart football, and earning wins in games that last season would have resulted in busts. It is still far too early to think about the title with 16 games to go, and the team remains the in bottom four of the relegation table, but odds are good that better days have arrived. You can bet on it.
Good night everyone! I’ll be here all week!
Just my luck.
On a Sunday when River Plate post an impressive 1-0 victory over Huracán, TyC Sports, which shows most Primera games here in the States along with Fox Sports en Español, decides instead to show some basketball game between Argentina and Spain. Even the internet failed to provide my fix, as most streaming links I found online were either of low quality or simply failed to play. As a result, my only impression of the game came thanks to the TyC highlight show, Paso a Paso.
What I missed was a fine effort by los millonarios, and superb performances from veterans Ariel Ortega and Matías Almeyda. River were sharp with their passes, strong in defense, and overall, a much better side that played against Tigre last week. Facundo Affranchino had the games only goal in the 11th minute. The only negative was the sending off of Ortega in the 71st minute for an elbow to an opponent’s face, though replays showed that the contact was incidental and far from malicious.
So I’m bummed I missed the match, but no complaints from me about the outcome. Two games, six points – I’ll take that just fine, thank you very much. Next week, a huge home clásico against Independiente.
NOTE: There was an unfortunate point in the game where the referee had to stop play after hearing racist singing coming from the River section. I’m utterly disgusted to hear these kind of songs still being sung at games, even more so knowing that it came from River fans. It’s unfortunate that no one, not the club, the players, the fans, or the press, has come out against this. It’s an embarrassment to the club, and a blight on the world game. It should never happen, not at River Plate, not anywhere.
A near-capacity crowd was on hand to see River Plate earn a slim, 1-0 victory over Tigre yesterday afternoon in the 2010 Apertura opener. A late goal by Rogelio Funes Mori in the 91st minute sealed the win for los millonarios, who struggled throughout the match to penetrate a stingy Tigre defense.
For all the talk of Ángel Cappa bringing a more attacking style of play, River failed to generate much by way of offense. Indeed, I don’t think they even registered a shot on goal until the 45th minute. In fact, there was little difference overall from what we’ve seen in recent campaigns: once again, our best players were the goal keeper (Juan Pablo Carrizo, who had a fine outing in his return to the club), followed by Matias Almeyda, and some brief flashes from Ariel Ortega, whose cross to Funes Mori led to the game’s only goal.
But there was little overall from anyone else, and none of River’s new faces made much of a case for themselves. Tigre certainly did not come to play and were ultra-defensive in their tactics, but it was disconcerting to think that River could not come up with a response.
This is typically the point where I say that the season is still early and that River have 18 more games to improve, but the pessimist in me can’t help but feel frustrated that despite all the changes in the off-season, the squad continue to make the same mistakes. Thankfully the late goal gave us three vital points, but a draw, really the fairest result yesterday, would have forced us to ask some questions about the squad that have now been glossed over.
We move on though, and prepare for an away date with Huracán next Sunday.
Funes Mori Goal:
El fútbol vuelve.
After what seemed like an interminable summer, football will indeed return to Argentina as the 2010 Apertura is set to kick off this weekend. River Plate begin the campaign hoping to reverse their fortunes from the last year’s disappointing season, and win their first title since the 2008 Clausura.
To that end, manager Ángel Cappa, with the help of President Daniel Passarella, has recruited 8 new reinforcements, among them Juan Pablo Carrizo, the former keeper returning to the club after an unsuccessful stint in Europe, and the highly rated, former Estudiantes striker, Mariano Pavone.
The club will certainly need all the help they can get to avoid the unthinkable but very real threat of relegation. After poor finishes in the previous Primera campaigns, los millonarios enter this season 17th in the relegation table, meaning if the season were to end with River in the same position, they would be forced to win a two-legged playoff with a second division team to ensure their survival in the top flight. A loss there would be catastrophic for Argentina’s biggest club and its millions of fan’s worldwide.
I’ll have more on the new reinforcements tomorrow. In the meantime, check out photos below of the new River Plate home jersey that debuted this week. My thoughts? I’ll accept the fact that this is essentially another ploy by Adidas to convince fans to hand over their money for what is essentially the same product, but what I don’t understand is the moving of the club crest from its traditional spot on the red band to the middle of the shirt.
It is not the first time that the crest has been somewhere other than over the “heart” of the jersey, as in the old Sanyo or FateO kits, but in those shirts the crest was on the right side of the chest, not in the middle, which seemed like a better location. Even stranger, if you look closely at the shirt where the red stripe is, you can see an inlay of the CARP logo, meaning there are two River crests side-by-side to one another, an odd design choice.
Of course, if by December Ariel Ortega is lifting up the Apertura trophy wearing that same shirt, you will hear no complaints from me.
Photo courtesy La Página Millonaria
With the season mercifully drawing to a close, it’s difficult to find many positives to take away from this season. Things seem to have improved with the arrival of Ángel Cappa, but there was the same feeling from River fans last year when Leo Astrada took over as manager, and we all know how that worked out.
Still, two recent developments regarding two of the club’s brightest stars, one an emerging talent, the other a beloved legend, have given even the most disheartened River fan cause to smile.
Last Friday’s 2-1 win over Vélez Sársfield was a spirited victory, featuring one of the better, attacking performances from the squad this year. But it was the winning goal by Diego Buonanotte that most will remember. Less than a year after the deadly car accident that claimed three lives and jeopardized the player’s career, Buonanotte has made a remarkable recovery from his injuries, and has featured in the last two River games. His goal was so expertly taken that one could have mistakenly believed that el Enano hadn’t been in rehab the last five months. The sight of Diego’s teammates surrounding him to celebrate his goal was one of the most emotional sights this year.
I’ve criticized Ariel Ortega many times on this site, less for his playing ability and more for his attitude off the pitch. El Burrito has missed several practice sessions due to his ongoing alcoholism, and has engaged in unnecessary battles with the club’s board of directors and managers. Yet despite all this, it’s hard to deny Ortega’s skill when he’s on, and the past few games he has played with a renewed intensity.
His reward has been a shock call-up to Diego Maradona’s squad for tonight’s Argentina vs. Haiti friendly in Buenos Aires. As this is not a FIFA-sanctioned date, only players from the Primera will make up the squad, but Ortega’s inclusion after so many years is truly a remarkable comeback for the player. The game may only be against Haiti and it’s highly unlikely that Maradona will keep Ortega in mind for the World Cup, but his appearance tonight will no doubt be a huge source of pride to the millions of River faithful who still adore him.
Highlights: River Plate 2 – 1 Vélez Sársfield