Apertura 2010: River Plate in Sole Possesion of First Place After Weekend Draw to ArgentinosBy: Christian | August 31st, 2010
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.