Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: The Year in Review

In just a few hours, the year 2007 will come to end, giving rise to a brand new and fresh 2008. Unfortunately, this review will not be the one I imagined or even hoped for in January of this same year. Throughout the 12-month period that took course, we saw more frowns (such as in the top left picture) than positive moments (such as in the top right picture), going down as a year to not be remembered in the history books for River Plate fans.

The season began in January with River giving some fantastic performances in the annual Torneo de Verano. Being crowned champions, with some two great defeats over arch-rivals Boca Juniors, River's winning year finally seemed to have arrived. Any fan that admits to not having his/her hopes high at the beginning of the year is lieing, for Fernando Belluschi's magic was giving us all hope, and even back-up players such as Diego Galvan were performing well. Add that to the arrival of big-name players from Europe (Ponzio and Rosales) and interesting prospects (Ruben and Villagra), and the final mix resulted in sugar and spice and everything nice... or so it seemed.

The start of official competitions finally began in January, and "los millonarios" started off by delivering everything they had previously promised. In our debut in the Copa Libertadores, we defeated Colo Colo (the current sub-champions of the Copa Sudamericana) in their own stadium, impressing both the press and the fans. The good results continued, with five wins in the first six matches played in the Argentine Torneo Clausura 2007. Unfortunately, things began dropping from there on out: River only found four more victories in the remaining 13 games, finishing 12 points away from the champions (San Lorenzo de Almagro). But perhaps the biggest upset came in the Copa Libertadores, in which River did not even advance from the Group Stage and lost twice to Caracas FC! The season eventually came to an end, but it didn't bring a good second-half of the year to us either.

By the time June arrived, the fans were already asking for Daniel Passarella's head. The "Kaiser" requested another six months to get his act together, and that if he did not win a single tournament by December he would depart. Contrary to his expectations, the Torneo Apertura 2007 was disastrous for River. The final result? 14th place in the league rankings, which included goleadas in favor of San Martin (SJ), Olimpo, Tigre, and Argentinos Juniors against us. There were few delightful times, including a fantastic performance in the Superclasico, some fantastic goals, a miraculous win over Botafogo, and a few other bits here and there. The closest we got to winning a tournament was the Copa Sudamericana, in which we were eliminated in a penalty shoot out in the semi-finals of the tournament, though it wasn't enough. The negative results ultimately led to Daniel Passarella resigning from his position.

December finally arrived, and to the joy of fans the year came to an end. The first positive of the post-Passarella era came with the arrival of Diego Simeone to the club, taking over Daniel's empty spot on the bench. Big names, such as Andres D'Alessandro, Diego Placente, Fernando Cavenaghi, etc. were mentioned , yet nobody has arrived, and only less-known players are now being linked to the team.

With 2008 just a few steps away, let's all hope for a positive year this time around, full of successful tournaments, victorious Superclasicos, and good performances throughout the 365 days of the year. Aguante River!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Top 5 Goals of 2007

In a year in which more frustrations than positives were found, River did manage to give us small quantities of joy in some tremendous goals in the semester. There is no official confirmation stating that these were our best goals, but in my opinion these were the top five we scored in 2007:

5) Fernando Belluschi vs. Lanus

4) Diego Buonanotte vs. Rosario Central

3) Augusto Fernandez vs. Velez

2) Fernando Belluschi vs. Velez

1) Radamel Falcao Garcia vs. Estudiantes (LP)

Can you say G-O-L-A-Z-O-S? Pure class. Other honorable mentions are Radamel Falcao Garcia (vs. Rosario Central, Botafogo, and Boca Juniors), Leonardo Ponzio (vs. Colo Colo), amongst others. Hopefully we see more of these goals (..along with championships) in 2008.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to everyone!

A few updates regarding River:

- Radamel Falcao Garcia is very close to joining Fluminese of Brazil, though a few minor details must still be arranged between the two clubs. In Brazil they guarantee that he will join Flu within this next week, yet no deal has been sealed for now.
- Fernando Belluschi already has one foot in Greece, due to almost surely joining Olympiakos before the next season. The Greek side plan on having the "rasta" help them obtain positive results in their Champions League campaign, and therefore would invest around 6.5 million euros for 60% of his transfer (the total would go to River, while the investors who own the other 40% would wait for a future transaction).
- Sebastian Abreu seems to be "los Millonarios"'s first incorporation. Nothing is official for now, but everything seems to indicate that the Uruguayan foward will join the club on loan for 18 months. Other players rumoured to join the club are Andres D'Alessandro, Diego Placente, Facundo Quiroga, and Rodrigo Archubi.
- Universidad Catolica have been confirmed as Chile 2 in next year's edition of the Copa Libertadores, and therefore will be competeing in River Plate's group, along with Universidad San Martin (Peru) and Mexico 2.

Happy holidays to everyone (except the bosteros)!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Copa Libertadores 2008: Groups Drawn

The groups for the Copa Santander Libertadores 2008 were drawn earlier on today in Paraguay. River have been scheduled to face Universidad San Martin (Peru), Chile 2, and Mexico 2. The last two teams have obviously not been determined yet. Depending on who they are, it could turn out to be an easier group than last year, though things could also get very dangerous: both the Chilean and Mexican league consist of powerful teams, and the group could get filled up with the likes of Universidad Catolica, America, and Toluca, just to give a few examples.

Anyway, here's the rest of the draw:

Group 1
San Lorenzo (Argentina)
Real Potosí (Bolivia)
Caracas (Venezuela)
Winner of Playoff 2

Group 2
Estudiantes (Argentina)
Danubio (Uruguay)
Deportivo Cuenca (Ecuador)
Winner of Playoff 1

Group 3
Boca Juniors (Argentina)
Colo Colo (Chile)
Maracaibo (Venezuela)
Winner of Playoff 4

Group 4
Flamengo (Brazil)
Nacional (Uruguay)
Coronel Bolognesi (Peru)
Winner of Playoff 5

Group 5
River Plate (Argentina)
Chile 2
San Martín (Peru)
Mexico 2

Group 6
Santos (Brazil)
San José (Bolivia)
Colombia 2
Chivas (Mexico)

Group 7
Sao Paulo (Brazil)
Sportivo Luqueño (Paraguay)
Atletico Nacional (Colombia)
Winner of Playoff 6

Group 8
Fluminense (Brazil)
Libertad (Paraguay)
Liga De Quito (Ecuador)
Winner of Playoff 3

1) Olmedo (Ecuador) - Lanus (Argentina)
2) Cruzeiro (Brazil) - Cerro Porteño (Paraguay)
3) Arsenal (Argentina) - Mineros de Guyana (Venezuela)
4) Mexico 3 - Bolivia 3
5) Cienciano (Peru) - Montevideo Wanderes (Uruguay)
6) Colombia 3 - Audax Italiano (Chile)

Aguante River!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Confirmed: Simeone Will be on the Bench in 2008

The search has ended: after a month of seeking a replacement for Daniel Passarella, River Plate have finally confirmed the arrival of Diego Simeone as our new coach. Unlike many of our ex-coaches (Ramon Diaz, Merlo, Passarella, Gallego, etc.), Simeone never wore our jersey as a player, yet he still has several aspects that can make us all aspire for a positive future.

As an athlete Diego played in several teams, but perhaps his most important appearance was for the Argentina National Team. He played for 14 years with the albiceletes, appearing in a total of 106 games between World Cups, Copa Americas, Olympics, friendly matches, and other encounters. He was often the captain of his teams, due to his strong personailty and great motivation skills. Luckily for us, those two traits can be vital to reverting a situation such as the one we currently are in.

Simeone made his debut as a coach in 2006, when he decided to manage the club he loves - Racing Club de Avellaneda. "La Academia" had a poor season, though "El Cholo" Simeone should not be blamed for it either, since the team was broken and in an even worse situation than River. In order to take over the role of Estudiantes' coach, he departed shortly before the season ended, and that's when his true managerial career began.

Once on Estudiantes' bench, Simeone began to create miracles. In spite of taking over a team that was closer to the relegation zone than to tournaments, he led them to success. In his first season there (Apertura 2006), he managed to win 7-0 in the teams derby (La Plata derby vs. Gimnasia (LP); equivalent to River vs. Boca for them), as well as the tournament itself. He led the team to finish first alongside Boca Juniors, and defeated them in a championship final, crowning the red-and-white team as champions for the first time in 23 years. After losing several star players during the January transfer window, "El Cholo" wasn't able to repeat the same campaign in the Torneo Clausura 2007, yet he still achieved the third place spot -a more than acceptable position for Estudiantes' normal standards-. In his last season there (Apertura 2007) he had a good campaign, and eventually departed to River.

On his arrival at the Monumental, Diego stated that he had players like Belluschi and Falcao in mind, though it seems that they are both very close to departing (a lot closer than many think). Either way, Simeone also stated his ambitions of bringing out the best of Ortega, Rosales, Ruben, and many others. His plans to play an offensive yet organized football sound tempting in River. His motivation skills bring faith to us all. For now, Diego "Cholo" Simeone sounds as the perfect coach, but only time will tell if his spell at the club is successful or not.

Side Note: View the side bar showing Fixtures & Results for some "pleasant" news (tip, tip: it involves Kaka). :D

Friday, December 14, 2007

Simeone In, Belluschi and Falcao Out?

Despite expecting to be presented as River Plate's new coach today, Diego Simeone is still jobless. Well, technically speaking, he is not, and that's the same exact reason why he is not on the bench yet: Estudiantes are making his departure much more complicated than it should be, claiming recision fees and demanding that his team of coaching staff leave as a whole. Either way, he is still expected to sign with "los millonarios" and officially become our new coach next week.

As if the coach crisis weren't enough, the transfer market is the main event at the Monumental nowadays, linking key players such as Carrizo, Belluschi, A. Fernandez, Buonanotte, and Falcao with other clubs:

Juan Pablo Carrizo: The goalkeeper had confirmed that his era in River had come to an end, though his European passport has not been validated yet. Other possibilities exist at the moment, yet the doors to stay with "la banda" have opened up once again.
Fernando Belluschi: Porto of Portugal and Olympiakos of Greece are interested in him. Although there are no official offers for him, River's directives aren't going to put any traps to his possible departure. A positive point? Simeone requested that they don't sell him, not to mention that River would only get 40% of his transfer money if he is sold (not too much money).
Augusto Fernandez: Fiorentina (Italy) and Levante (Spain) are planning on acquiring the right winger over the January transfer window. The plan, for now, is to not sell both Belluschi and him at the same time (one would leave, while the other would stay for at least another six months).
Radamel Falcao Garcia: Fluminense of Brazil are still interested in the foward's services. They were willing to pay $5,000,000 for 50% of the transfer, though River want to get paid around $16,000,000 for the full transfer. The reason? If only 50% is sold a good percentage will have to go to the Fair Play school (where Falcao originally came from), while selling all his rights would mean only paying 10% to the school.
Diego Buonanotte: Atletico Madrid are rumoured to be chasing the "dwarf". Not much more is known on his situation, though it would be an extremely huge upset to see him leave at such a young age and with a very small amount of minutes in Primera.
Daniel Vega: The ex-Nueva Chicago goalkeeper is on loan, though he would like to leave due to not receiving chances. The directives will be looking to convince him to stay, though his future does not seem to clear, especially if Carrizo remains in the team next semester.
Sebastian Dominguez: Estudiantes's defender, who was one of the candidates to reinforce our back-line next sesaon, has agreed to join America (Mexico) and therefore will not be wearing red-and-white starting January.

At the moment, the search of a new coach seems endless. To top it off, many players have possibilities of leaving the team, causing an uncertain future for River Plate. Players like Aimar, Crespo, Cavenaghi, and Placente have all been named as possible reinforcements, though it will be highly unlikely to see any of them arriving any time soon. Our situation keeps on worsening, leaving the hope of a better 2008 as our only option.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Updates: December 9th

River lost 2-0 to Banfield, in an encounter that took place for the 19th Round of the Torneo Apertura 2007. The loss extended the "millonarios"'s non-winning streak to 9 games (including both Apertura and Copa Sudamericana matches). This game has officially ended the second part of the 2007 season for River, which left us with a team that was eliminated in the Semi-Finals of the Copa Sudamericana and finished 14th in the Argentine league.

But that is not all the bad news. Many of our best players could be on their way out of the club anytime soon, leaving the future coach (could be Simeone - see below) with a big problem to resolve: Radamel Falcao Garcia is close to Fluminese of Brazil, who would be buying half of his transfer rights for $8,000,000. Goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo has already confirmed the end of his era in River, and will be on the way to an unknown club in Europe (he is owned by Lazio, but could be loaned out). Others, such as Belluschi and Augusto Fernandez, are also wanted and are very likely to leave before the beginning of next semester.

Regarding Passarella's replacement as coach of River Plate, everything seems to indicate that Diego Simeone will be the chosen one. The ex-Argentine International had been rumoured to join "la Banda" for a while now, but his arrival is now closer than ever, after he parted ways with his now ex-club Estudiantes. In River they are confident that he will sign in the next few days, but they still are conversating with Pumpido and Borghi incase things go wrong.

There could be surprises, just like when Ramon rejected our proposal, so make sure to check back soon for more news regarding the subject.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Olimpo: 4 - River Plate: 0 - Torneo Apertura 2007

Though it may sound as a joke, River lost 4-0 to Olimpo de Bahia Blanca for the 18th Round of the Torneo Apertura 2007. One of the main factors was the lack of presence of many starters such as Ariel Ortega, Radamel Falcao Garcia, Juan Pablo Carrizo, Oscar Ahumada, Nicolas Sanchez, Cristian Nasuti, etc., as well as the inclusion of alternative players (Oliva debuted, failures such as Gerlo, Peralta, and Ruben played once again, etc.), yet there is no excuse to losing to a team the size of Olimpo, especially with such an abundant score. The only option now is to wait for the new season to begin, though things just seem to be getting worse as time passes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Passarella's Replacement: The Search Continues

It's been almost two weeks since Daniel Passarella resigned from his position, yet River Plate have not been able to find a replacement coach. With Ramon Diaz, Carlos Bianchi, and Americo Gallego officially out of the race, "los Millonarios" have once again turned their attention to Diego Simeone. "El Cholo", though, is still coaching Estudiantes and would like to stay if his reinforcements are brought in for next semester. Simeone refused to talk about the subject for now, but did not discard the possibility either.

The clock is still ticking, and Jose Maria Aguilar does not want to be left without a manager. So in case Simeone refuses to join the club, our President now has a back-up plan which includes Jose Pekerman, Claudio Borghi, and Nery Pumpido. Of those three, the only one I wouldn't want to see is Pekerman, who has left me with a very negative impression of him after his time managing the Argentine National Team. In my opinion, many of his tactics and decisions made us (Argentina) lose the 2006 World Cup, and I wouldn't even want to think of having him coach River during a Superclasico or an important Copa Libertadores game. But putting all my thoughts aside, his arrival wouldn't be too accessible either, since he is doing well in Toluca and is earning plenty of money. Pumpido and Borghi, on the other hand, are easier options to bring in and are more identified with the club than, say, Pekerman.

In other news, River lost 2-0 to Colon on Saturday for the 17th Round of the Torneo Apertura 2007. Colon, managed by Leonardo Astrada, were the better side throughout the match, but it is important to be noted that Ariel Ortega, Fernando Belluschi, and Radamel Falcao Garcia were all absent on the home side.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

And One Day Ramon Said "No."

The title to this post says it all: Ramon Diaz rejected Jose Maria Aguilar's proposal to return to River Plate and will stay with San Lorenzo till atleast December of next year. The conclusion surprised many, especially with the Argentine Press nearly concluding that his arrival was confirmed, but nothing can be done now.

Today is Thanksgiving, and what better way to celebrate the holiday than by thanking our President for the return of Ramon Diaz. But why should he have gotten our thanks? Aguilar deserved to receive a slap in the face, not a praise, and that's exactly what he received. After dismissing Ramon in 2002, despite having the coach clearly win the Argentine tournament playing great football, the two have been getting along like Water and Oil, and many are forgetting that. A few years ago, Aguilar even went as far as saying in a press conference that Ramon Diaz would never return to River while he was in charge of the club. Now I hear some people critisizing Ramon for not returning when given a chance: "If he was a real River fan, he would chose River over San Lorenzo any day" is one of the things I've heard more than once. Well, put yourself in his position. If somebody fired you without a legitimate reason, would you return to save that same person's career? In most cases, no, and there is nothing wrong with that decision.

Of course this decision has brought more negatives than positives along with it. One that upsets me a lot is the possibility of having ex-River star Andres D'Alessandro join San Lorenzo instead of River in January because of his friendship with Diaz. But besides that there is a big problem circulating "los Millonarios" now. With the two main targets (Ramon Diaz and Diego Simeone) now discarded, who will replace Daniel Passarella? Claudio Borghi, Leonardo Astrada, Omar Labruna, and Americo Gallego are the most rumored names, though Aguilar guarantees that there is not one firm candidate in mind now. Personally, I am not too interested in seeing any of them. Of those four, I think Astrada would be the one with most chances of succeeding. Either way, he is comfortable in Colon and plans on staying there for next semester.

So who will coach the club if it's not them? Call me crazy, but I'd like to see Jorge Gordillo stay a while extra. "El Tapon" will be on the bench for the last three games of the Clausura, and maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to extend his term. He may not be the most luxurious coach in terms of tournaments won, but he is a person that is identified with River and already knows the players well since he's been managing the reserves for a while now. Of course if I had Ramon and Simeone as options, I wouldn't go with Gordillo, but there is no other "juicy" names going around, and I don't want to see anybody become our coach just because we need one. Besides, Ramon Cabrero was in Gordillo's position two years ago, and now his team (Lanus) is first in the Argentine league with just three games left. Whatever Aguilar's decision is, let's pray it's a good one.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Passarella Out: Possible Replacements

With Daniel Passarella resigning just recently, River Plate have begun to search for a replacement for the "Kaiser". Many names are going around, but the top two firm candidates are Ramon Diaz and Diego Simeone. There is no doubt that the two are excellent managers, but will either one of them be able to make it to Nuñez?

Just a few days ago, the main man was ex-Argentine National Team captain Simeone. Diego joined Estudiantes not to long ago and was an instant success: he managed to win the Argentine Apertura 2006 (defeating none other than Boca Juniors in a tournament final) and also humiliated and demolished arch-rivals Gimnasia (LP) by beating them 7-0 in the derby. Ever since then he has been considered one of the best coaches in Argentina, and many see him as the ideal person to be in charge of "los millonarios". With a strong personality and good leadership, Simeone could get the best out of his players and could make a tournament return to the Monumental after 4 years. The biggest problem, though, is that he still is at the helm of Estudiantes, who don't want to even think of releasing their adored coach before the 2008 Copa Libertadores. The team President has mentioned that he would be very upset to see him depart, which would also bring a $500,000 fee along with him (recision fee; his contract is set to expire in June 2008). "El Cholo" would be a fantastic coach to bring in, but will he be willing to break Estudiantes fans' hearts by leaving to a club he never even played for?

As mentioned previously, the other "big" candidate is Ramon Diaz. His arrival seemed ever so far, due to having a well-known dispute with Jose Maria Aguilar. The fight began in 2002, when Ramon's contact with River was never renewed, despite having won the tournament that same season. Ever since then, things got even worse between the two, including a public appearance by Diaz supporting a rival candidate for President in the elections of 2005. His name is often mentioned when River is looking for a coach, and this time was no exception. Even though his past with our President is more than rusty, his return no longer seems as distant: Aguilar has been praising Ramon lately and has mentioned that they will make an attempt to bring him back. This official decision has sparked some fury in San Lorenzo's surroundings, with many mentioning that he would be a traitor if he left them now. Either way, Savino (San Lorenzo's President) has assured that he will sign a new contact and will stay with the "Cuervos" to fight for next season's continental competition. What has R. Diaz said regarding the subject? He didn't close any doors, but he didn't open them either. His decision will be presented to the press and public on Thursday.

If both fail to arrive, River is expected to go after Americo Gallego or Claudio Borghi. Others such as Leonardo Astrada, Enzo Francescoli, and Omar Labruna have been rumored to join too, but seem to be more of a distant reality. Nobody knows for sure who Passarella's succesor will be, but hopefully Aguilar does not make a foolish decision.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Daniel Passarella Departs

Just like the Copa Sudamericana 2007, Daniel Passarella is now only a part of history for River Plate. The "Kaiser"had promised in May of this year to leave if he did not win either the Torneo Apertura or the Copa Sudamericana, and he did just that.

I am not the typical Anti-Passarella River fan. Although I do think it is time for a change, I do not have the urge to go out and bash Passarella game after game. Sure, I've been angry at him several times before, but I also think many fans were wrongfully outraged. He was often blamed when making a wrong tactical change in matches that we lost, but in general they were the right changes to do at the moment (of course if we would have won those games, people wouldn't have said anything).

In his second cycle coaching "los Millonarios", Passarella left both positive and negative points. I've tried summing some of them up, and this is what I got:

Positives (things people fail to see):
- Discovered Gonzalo Higuain, Juan Pablo Carrizo, Augusto Fernandez, Diego Buonanotte, etc. All these players ended up being stars, with a tremendous future. With other coaches, who knows if they would have even debuted yet.
- Gave opportunities to other great players such as Andres Rios, Rene Lima, Matias Abelairas, Nicolas Domingo, etc. I wouldn't go as far as saying they are stars, but they are all great players who will almost surely have a great future. Other youngsters such as Mussachio, Oliva, Lizio, Sciorilli, Valencia, Antonio, Burzac, etc. were able to debut on the first team thanks to the "Kaiser", but did not get as much continuity.
- Resurrected Ariel Ortega. The same player that was in a hospital recuperating from an alcohol problem is now the star and leader of our team. With another coach, his return might have not been assured. Passarella is like "el Burrito"'s dad and helped him progress tremendously.
- Brought back the best Falcao. Despite the Colombian underperforming for a long time, Passarella insisted on bringing his old form back and continued getting minutes. Guess who is now the top-goalscorer of the team.
- Pretty much brought Fernando Belluschi, Mauro Rosales, and Leonardo Ponzio - all three now being very important players to the team. Daniel insisted tremendously that all three of them arrive at "la Banda" until his wish became a reality.
- Literally "owned" Boca Juniors. He did not lose once, winning twice and tieing the same amount of times.

- Managed the team for two years but did not win a single tournament. In his reign he played 4 Argentine tournament, 2 Copa Libertadores, and 2 Copa Sudamericanas. Surprisingly enough, we did not see the team lift the trophy in ANY of those eight tournaments.
- Lost to many small teams such as Caracas, Almagro, Tigre, San Martin (SJ), Gimnasia (JJ), Arsenal, etc.
- Gave away German Lux, a goalkeeper with tremendous skill, by seperating him from the first team. Lux later let his contract expire and joined Mallorca of Spain.
- Was eliminated in the first round of the Copa Libertadores 2007, as well as in the Copa Sudamericana 2006.

In the end, we have been left with good moments and.. well.. let's just say not-so-sweet moments. Time has passed and it cannot be reversed. We cannot do anything but move along and look for a new coach.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

River Plate: 0 (2) - Arsenal: 0 (4) - Copa Sudamericana 2007

River Plate tied 0-0 to an almost unnoticeable Arsenal last night. Unfortunately, the match went on to be defined in a penalty shoot-out, where the away side were able to find the difference over "Los Millonarios" and proceed to the final.

Arsenal went out from the first minute looking for a 0-0 result. With 10 men defending every ball played, things were made difficult for River, who were not able to reach Cuenca's goal too often in the first 45 minutes. In the second half, "la Banda" improved a bit and deserved atleast one goal. Still, Mario Cuenca's espectacular night caused the match to finish the same way it had started. Arsenal then won 4-2 in penalties, leaving River with another trophy-less season.

The Player Review -

Juan Pablo Carrizo: Our goalkeeper did not have much to do throughout the entire 90 minutes played. In the penalty shootout, though, he resurrected River by stopping Andrizzi's shot and partially tieing it. Unfortunately this didn't have too much importance later, since we lost, but Carrizo still did an overall good job.
Paulo Ferrari: Our captain played a decent game, but he didn't attack as much as expected. Nothing amazing, but no errors nonetheless. Converted his penalty shot. His overall good performacnes this season have brought Villarreal to be interested in incorporating him in December.
Eduardo Tuzzio: He continued playing despite what seemed to be a minor injury in the first half. He did well, though he almost gave Arsenal a goal when he kicked the air rather than the ball in one play.
Cristian Nasuti: "El Colorado" was once again solid in defense and tried to score with his killer headers. He was one of the players who cared most about the match and once again left a good image as a center-back.
Leonardo Ponzio: Personally, I think he was one of the best players on the field. Ever since the day he was included on the starting team vs. Boca, the ex-Zaragoza player has delivered some exceptional performances. He has been defending very well and attacks when needed. Ponzio has managed to transform himself from a substitute to a very important first-team player. With no known interested teams in him, he could be a vital part of the team next semester.
Fernando Belluschi: Missed an extremely clear chance at the tenth minute that would have left us previewing the final vs. America rather than talking about our elimination. Later on in the match he had some great shots, including a fantastic one in the dieing minutes of the game, but Cuenca did not let the midfielder celebrate. He was one of the players that missed his shot in the penalty shoot-out.
Oscar Ahumada: A very poor performance by the #5. He didn't do much (if anything) throughout the whole game. To top it off, he was expelled in the second half.
Rene Lima: In my opinion, the best player on the field last night (behind Cuenca -Arsenal's goalkeeper). He recuperated, distributed, gave the great assist to Belluschi (10th minute), and had a potential shot. Unfortunately, he was not able to continue his positive performance after the match, and took an extremely horrible penalty which left us out of the tournament.
Diego Buonanotte: Tried more than most of the players out there. He had a few sparks here and there, but more than often seemed to hold on to the ball for way too long.
Ariel Ortega: "El Burrito" was not able to do much. He did well while on the field, but was injured early on in the game by Andres San Martin (it just happened to be an ex-River player!). No word on how long he will be out for (not like it matters much now).
Andres Rios: The youngster did not receive the ball much and was not able to mark his prescence. His substitute was able to do much more (see below).
The Substitutes -
Mauro Rosales: The ex-Ajax player entered sooner than expected to replace the injured Ortega. He didn't do as much as we expected, but did contribute every now and then. He should have taken the fourth penalty instead of Lima.
Rolando Zarate: It was a surprise to see him enter the field, but he ended up being one of the best players present. He gave a few good crosses and had some good shots. He was one of the two players who converted his penalty shot (Ferrari being the other).
Augusto Fernandez: Augusto was a substitute do to not being completely fit after his injury. He came in towards the end of the match but did not have time to do much. Why he wasn't one of the penalty takers is beyond me.

The Copa Sudamericana 2007 is now a thing of the past for River Plate. Only hypothetical questions remain: What if Colombia would have shown some respect by letting Falcao play? What if Ariel Ortega had not gotten injured during the start of the match? What if Augusto Fernandez/Rosales/Ponzio had taken our fourth penalty shot instead of Rene Lima? What if the pitch was in good conditions? There is no correct answer to any of these questions, yet they keep on appearing in my mind.

Highlights of the match:

Penalty Shoot-Out:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

River - Arsenal: The Preview

River Plate will be facing Arsenal de Sarandi in what will be the second leg to the Semi-Final match up between the two Argentine sides. The final match result of the first game was 0-0, meaning that a win tomorrow will automatically give us the qualification to finals to play against America (Mexico)/Millonarios (Colombia).

The following players will be starting for "La Banda":

Juan Pablo Carrizo;
Paulo Ferrari-Cristian Nasuti-Eduardo Tuzzio-Leonardo Ponzio;
Fernando Belluschi-Oscar Ahumada-Rene Lima-Diego Buonanotte;
Ariel Ortega;
Andres Rios

In regards to the team that tied on the first leg, there will be four changes:
- Paulo Ferrari will be replacing Danilo Gerlo. Our captain had missed the first match due to being suspended, causing Tuzzio to play as a right back and Gerlo as a center back. With Ferrari once again on the first team, Tuzzio will return to his original position, while "Paco" will be on the bench.
- Rene Lima will replace Nicolas Domingo. Passarella will be looking for a less aerial game than last time and believes that Lima can help out more offensively than Domingo.
- Diego Buonanotte will replace Matias Abelairas. After el "Pitu" Abelairas's mediocre performances lately, Buonanotte will once again return to the starting team. Diego will be a bit more ahead on the field than Abelairas, though, causing Lima to move to the left side from time to time.
- Andres Rios will replace Radamel Falcao Garcia. Our top-goalscorer this season (Falcao) was called up to the Colombian National Team and will be forced to miss tomorrow's game. The decision was a bit controversial, since Colombia doesn't even play till Saturday, but River could not have their say in the situation. Either way, Rios is a great player and is the striker on the team with most similar characteristics to the "Tiger".

The following results will determine our destiny in the Copa Sudamericana:

  • River Wins: River Qualifies
  • Arsenal Wins: Arsenal Qualifies
  • 0-0 Tie: The match proceeds to a penalty shootout.
  • Tie With Goals (i.e.- 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, etc.): Arsenal Qualifies.

The match will be shown live on Fox Sports en Espanol at 4:15 PM Pacific / 7:15 PM Eastern Time. A tape delay will also be shown the same night on the same channel at 8:00 PM Pacific / 11:00 PM Eastern Time.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Huracan: 2 - River Plate: 1 - Torneo Apertura 2007

A River Plate team composed mainly of debuting youngsters and a few reserve players lost to Huracan last night in the Diego Maradona Stadium. The final score was 2-1, though it could have been different.

In the first half River showed some interesting things and were able to take the partial lead thanks to Sixto Peralta. "Los Millonarios" continued being greater than Huracan in the first part of the second half, and could have easily extended the difference. In fact, River should have been awarded a penalty, but the ref amazingly saw it out of the penalty box and only gave us a free-kick (not to mention that Huracan's defender should have been expelled for being the last man, but he only received a yellow card). This could have changed the outcome of the game, but unfortunately the "man-in-yellow" saw things differently as compared to everyone else.

Later on in the game Antonio Barijho entered the field and the tables slowly began turning. As time passed, Huracan gained control of the match and were able to flip the score (though there was an offsides by Barijho in the second goal). For what they had done earlier on in the match, River's youngsters did not deserve to lose, especially considering that there were several strong calls in favor of our rivals given by the referree (1 penalty not called for us, 1 red card not given to them, 1 goal by them on offsides, and several other "minor" calls).

The Player Review -
Juan Marcelo Ojeda: Neither of the two goals were the ex-Rosario Central goalkeeper's fault. Despite making a few good saves, he did not show the same firmness he had shown earlier on in the season.
Carlos Valencia: The Colombian was one of the most impressive players on the field. His form did decrease as time passed, but he was unstoppable when at his best. Valencia is fast, full of technique, and has good touches. He is a very interesting option to replace Paulo Ferrari (we all know he will be transferred sooner or later).
Mateo Mussachio: The 17 year old is one of River's main defensive prospects for the future, but he did not leave a big mark last night. Bare in mind though that he is only 17 years old and has more than enough time to grow.
Federico Lussenhoff: "El Colorado" improved as compared to when we had last seen him vs. Botafogo, but he still committed a few errors every now and then. Overall I think he did a good job, but I still wouldn't even consider having him on our first team.
Emmanuel Martinez: This wasn't Martinez's first game in Primera, so we know him a little bit more than many of the other players that played last night. He had some great slide tackles and stopped a shot (that was almost certain to finish in the goal) right on the line. Still, he was often beaten by opponents on the right side, and one of the goals began just there.
Matias Abelairas: A few good passes were given by el "Pitu", but he did not managed to do much more than that. In a night where he was one of the players with most official minutes played, Abelairas was expected to be one of the key players. Despite that, he was one of the worst and a cold question is starting to arise: Was he meant for River? Matias has been given several opportunities this season, but he hasn't been able to perform even half as well as he had in pre-season Peace Cup tournament in Korea. Will Passarella continue giving him chances?
Matias Diaz: Not much was shown by Diaz, though he did well when he appeared. Nothing amazing, but a decent match nonetheless.
Facundo Affranchino: Little to nothing. Actually, I am being way too nice: Affranchino did nothing whatsoever. Except for a good cross early on in the game, the 18 year-old pulled a "Riquelme" and disappeared throughout the rest of the game. No positive thoughts for now on Facundo.
Sixto Peralta: Despite me still thinking he is a tremendous failure who doesn't belong in River, el "Mumo" played his best game since his arrival. He scored his first goal with "la Banda" (and it just happened to be vs. his ex-club!) and was one of the best players on the field. Still, I don't get convince that easily: he should not be anywhere near the starting line-up (or even the bench).
Damian Lizio: Arguably the most impressive debutee. Had some good jukes, a free-kick that was millimeters away from going in, and received a foul that should have resulted in a penalty. There is no question why Fiorentina of Italy called the 18-year old up to tryout last year.
Andres Rios: Rios continues on playing well and proves that he should be a serious consideration for the first team. Last night he played very well and assisted Peralta on our only goal. Even though he has received way less opportunities than Marco Ruben, he has done a lot for the team and has scored several goals (let's not forget that if he hadn't scored that one night vs. Botafogo, we wouldn't still be fighting today for the Copa Sudamericana). Many of us forget that he is only 18 years old and can develop into a tremendous talent in the near future.

Mauro Rosales, Rolando Zarate, and Rene Lima all entered in the second half. Lima was probably the best of the three, though none of them were able to make their prescence too valuable.

With the starting eleven yesterday, it was more than clear that River is concentrating purely on the Copa Sudamericana. The team must find a win on Wednesday vs. Arsenal, for Lanus's 4-1 win over Rosario Central on Friday has officialy left us out of the competition for the Torneo Apertura 2007 (chances were small previously, but now they have been destroyed mathematically). Unfortunately, Radamel Falcao Garcia will be absent, but we can still do it. Aguante River!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Huracan - River: The Preview

Affranchino? Valencia? Lizio? M. Diaz? Do those names ring a bell? Not exactly. In fact all four of these players will be starting tomorrow for River Plate vs. Huracan. The four youngsters will be making their official debuts with a River jersey, but they won't be the only unusual players tomorrow. The following eleven will be looking for the win:

Juan Marcelo Ojeda;
Carmelo Valencia-Lussenhoff-Mateo Mussachio-Emmanuel Martinez;
Facundo Affranchino-Matias Diaz-Matias Abelairas;
Sixto Peralta;
Andres Rios-Damian Lizio;

Careful, though: that's not it. Other youngsters such as Maxi Oliva, Diego Bogado, Lucas Sanchez, and Diego Cardozo have been concentrating for this match as well, and it wouldn't be surprising to see some of them enter in the second half.

Besides the experienced (and underperforming) players like Lussenhoff and Peralta, most of these players have just recently stepped out of their baby cribs: Affranchino and Mussachio are 17, while Martinez, Valencia and Lizio are 18. Even Andres Rios and Matias Abelairas, whom we are now so used to seeing, are just 18 and 22 years old respectively. The match will be more than interesting to watch. I don't expect a downright amazing performance by "Los Millonarios", but it will be fun nonetheless to see the future players of the team getting a shot.

The match will be shown live on TyC Sports USA at 4:00 PM Pacific / 6:00 PM Eastern Time.

Arsenal: 0 - River Plate: 0 - Copa Sudamericana 2007

River Plate and Arsenal tied 0-0 in a generally boring match played in Sarandi last night. The first ten minutes were fantastic, with River constantly pressuring. After that the team started relaxing, causing neither of the two sides to take the leadership role.

In the second half River began playing better again, especially once Diego Buonanotte stepped on the field, but the overall image left in the 90 minutes of gametime did not show a very offensive River. Either way Arsenal didn't do well either, and did not have the efficient aerial attacks that were expected. Our defense did a splendid job, with Tuzzio being at his best, Ponzio avoiding any possible threat on the right side, and Nasuti being solid. Danilo Gerlo left a few doubts here and there, but luckily enough for him the other three defenders covered his poor performance. Besides that, there isn't much more to comment on this goal-less match.

The second leg of this final will be played next Wednesday in the Monumental Stadium. Both teams are expected to improve in that game. One can expect a very offensive 90 minutes: no tie will get River through directly (0-0 goes to penalties; any tie with goal gives Arsenal the qualification), causing us to go out looking for the goal from the first minute. Arsenal will probably be more cautious and will be anxiously awaiting a counterattack. I am not a psychic, but this should be a very entertaining match with goals from both sides, contrary to what we saw yesteday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Arsenal - River: The Preview

River Plate and Arsenal will be facing each other tomorrow in what will be the first leg of one of the two Semi-Final matches of the Copa Sudamericana 2007. Regardless of who qualifies, there is guaranteed to be one Argentine team in the final of the International tournament (though we obviously will be rooting just for River!).

The big question flowing around this whole week was whether Diego Buonanotte or Mauro Rosales would start. Everything seemed to indicate that Buonanotte would, but the tables eventually turned to the point that Rosales looked like the probable starter. Despite the two having equal 50/50 opportunities, Daniel Passarella surprised everyone today by including Marco Ruben in the starting eleven and leaving Buonanotte and Rosales on the bench. There has not been an explanation from the "Kaiser", but I believe it is because River have been lacking goals and shots in the last few games. Sure, both Diego and Mauro have tremendous skill and great passes, but who is going to put the ball past the net? Our rivals are starting to realize that Falcao is our goalscoring machine and have been marking him a lot more lately. If Falcao doesn't header/shoot those centers in, then who will? That's when Marco Ruben comes in. It may sound like a bad decision by Passarella, due to Ruben having a generally bad season so far, but it's an understandable risk nonetheless.

The following players will be starting tomorrow:

Juan Pablo Carrizo;
Eduardo Tuzzio-Cristian Nasuti-Danilo Gerlo-Leonardo Ponzio;
Nicolas Domingo-Oscar Ahumada-Fernando Belluschi;
Ariel Ortega;
Radamel Falcao Garcia-Marco Ruben

As seen above, the "regular" players will be present, with a few exceptions: Eduardo Tuzzio will be moving to the right side to cover Paulo Ferrari (suspended; Danilo Gerlo will be a center-back) and Nicolas Domingo will be taking Augusto Fernandez's place (injured).

Arsenal will be missing defensive midfielder Andres San Martin, but will still have dangerous players on the team: Jose Luis Calderon has been scoring goals ever since he came out of his baby crib, and is the key player on their squad. Besides him, there could be other surprises: defenders Matellan and Gandolfi scored both of Arsenal's goals vs. River in their 2-1 win over us in the Apertura, proving that any player can have a glorious day.

The match will be shown live on Fox Sports en Espanol at 3:30 PM Pacific / 6:30 PM Eastern Time. A tape delay will be shown on the same day at 8:00 PM Pacific / 11:00 PM Eastern Time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I want to apologize to the regular blog readers for my lack of updates lately. I've had an extremely busy week with barely any time (if any at all) to type up game previews/reviews. I'll try to keep myself up-to-date from now on, though.

A few updates:
- River tied 1-1 with Independiente, almost officially eliminating any possibilities of winning the Torneo Apertura: we are now 7 points from league leaders Lanus, with just four matches left to catch up. Passarella seems to realize the difficulty of being crowned Argentine champions, so all the bets will now be moved to the Copa Sudamericana. Mathimatically speaking, though, River still has and opportunity of winning both competitions (Lanus can always pull a "Boca-Lavolpe Tricagon" campaign).
- Our match dates for the Copa Sudamericana semi-finals have been decided. The first match (away) will be on Thursday, October 8th, while the second leg will be played at home on Wednesday, October 14th.
- In order to change the first leg's match date, River's directives chose to sacrifice the next round of the Torneo Apertura by moving our game vs. Huracan to Saturday. This will be less than 48 hours after the Arsenal-River match, almost surely confirming that our starting eleven will be mainly substitutes.
- Radamel Falcao Garcia is now linked with both Italian and English clubs. His departure in December wouldn't be much of a surprise, especially with River interested in bringing in Carlos Villanueva of Audax Italiano (Chile). Could the Chilean be Falcao's replacement?

Aguante River!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

River Plate: 0 - Defensor Sporting: 0 - Copa Sudamericana 2007

In what was a generally bad and boring game, River Plate were able to tie 0-0 with Defensor Sporting and find their way to officially becoming one of the four best teams in the Copa Sudamericana.

As mentioned previously, the match wasn't too pretty, but we got the job done. No worries, though: I've seen River play some great matches and still lose... I prefer the first option.

The Player Review -
Juan Pablo Carrizo: Carrizo was great last night. Despite giving away the ball and almost costing us the qualification (Tuzzio saved the ball on the line), JP had some amazing saves and was the closest thing to the "old" Carrizo we've seen yet.
Leonardo Ponzio: The Argentine International played yet another good match and continues improving in the left-back position. He didn't hesitate to clear the ball when he had a chance to, something that players like Villagra and Lussenhoff often forget to do.
Eduardo Tuzzio: Our best defender last night. He stopped a shot on the line and recuperated ball after ball. Very solid.
Nicolas Sanchez: The youngster had a fantastic season (notice the word "had"). Unfortunately, the ex-Nueva Chicago central defender was injured in the second half and won't be appearing until 2008. His spot will be taken by Cristian Nasuti and/or Danilo Gerlo from now on. :(
Paulo Ferrari: Our captain did well... until he was expelled! With just one minute left (93rd minute of the match), Ferrari "spoke too much", causing the referee to show him the red card. We will now be missing two key defenders vs. Arsenal (N. Sanchez being the other one).
Matias Abelairas: "Pitu" attacked efficiently in the first few minutes of the game, but later disappeared. He didn't show much more after that.
Oscar Ahumada: The defensive midfielder didn't prove the authority he had been showing in the last few games.
Fernando Belluschi: Despite not being praised by neither the media nor the fans last night, I thought Belluschi played a good game. Nothing espectacular (.. he did miss an easy goal), but he played with heart and fought for every ball. He's been doing that this whole season, reason for which I would love to see him stay past December.
Ariel Ortega: "El Burrito" was almost completely blocked by the Uruguayan defenders in the first half. In the last 45 minutes, though, he started appearing more (mostly towards the end of the match). When he was on he was one of the best, but he still underperformed overall.
Mauro Rosales: The ex-Ajax foward had some of River's clearest opportunities, including a shot on the post. Unfortunately for Mauro, everything seems to indicate that he will be a substitute in the Semi-Finals since Buonanotte has been inscribed in the squad list.
Radamel Falcao Garcia: The Fox commentators constantly bashed him by calling him a ball hog, but I believe they were being a little too harsh. Has Falcao spoiled us all with his goal-scoring spree? I guess so! His performance was neither bad nor good, though.

In the next round we will be facing Arsenal de Sarandi, another Argentine side. Although we are the bigger side in terms of history, Arsenal are a very tough team and have even beaten us in this year's Apertura. It will be even harder to defeat them missing both Paulo Ferrari and Nicolas Sanchez, but I still have faith on the team. Vamos River!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

River - Defensor Sporting: The Preview

After Thursday's 2-2 tie with Defensor Sporting on Thursday, River will be looking to find a positive result that will officially make them one of the four semi-finalists. This match will be played in the Monumental (our stadium), giving the "millonarios" a slight advantage over the Uruguayans. The following eleven will be starting tomorrow:

Juan Pablo Carrizo;
Paulo Ferrari-Nicolas Sánchez-Eduardo Tuzzio-Leonardo Ponzio;
Fernando Belluschi-Oscar Ahumada-Matias Abelairas;
Ariel Ortega;
Mauro Rosales-Radamel Falcao Garcia

Two of our normal starters will be missing: youngers Diego Buonanotte is still not inscribed in the Copa Sudamericana squad list, while right-wing Augusto Fernandez is currently injured and will be out for weeks. Buonanotte will once again be replaced by Mauro Rosales, who had played well in the first leg of the series. Meanwhile, Belluschi will be moving to Fernandez's spot, leaving Matias Abelairas in charge of the left side.

The following results will grant River the qualification:
- Any win in our favor.
- A 0-0 tie.
- A 1-1 tie.

The following results will grant Defensor Sporting the qualification:
- Any win in their favor.
- A 3-3 tie or above (i.e. - 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, etc.)

If the final match result is 2-2, the game will then proceed to penalty kicks to determine a winner.

You can catch the game live on Fox Sports en Espanol at 5:00 PM Pacific / 8:00 PM Eastern Time. A replay of the match will be shown at 11:00 PM Pacific / 2:00 AM Eastern Time on the same day (same channel as well).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Defensor Sporting: 2 - River Plate: 2 - Copa Sudamericana 2007

River Plate could not manage to take advantage of their two leads in the match (1-0 and 2-1) and ended up tieing with Defensor Sporting. Our goals were scored by Ariel Ortega (penalty) and Radamel Falcao Garcia.

A 2-2 tie isn't a bad result, especially considering that this was an away match, but I still have a sour taste in my mouth since both goals could have been avoided. Juan Pablo Carrizo committed errors in both shots, which could end up being very costly for River.

Here are the highlights of the match:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Defensor Sporting - River: The Preview

River will be facing Defensor Sporting today in what will be the first leg of the Quarter-Final match up between the two. River will be fielding most of their normal starters, excluding Oscar Ahumada (suspended) and Diego Buonanotte (not inscribed in the squad list for this tournament). The following eleven will be looking for the win from the first minutes:

Juan Pablo Carrizo;
Paulo Ferrari-Nicolas Sanchez-Eduardo Tuzzio-Leonardo Ponzio;
Augusto Fernandez-Nicolas Domingo-Fernando Belluschi;
Ariel Ortega;
Mauro Rosales-Radamel Falcao Garcia

Mauro Rosales will be a bit more back, playing as a midfielder/foward. His role will be similar to Buonanotte's, the only difference being that he would play on the right side rather than the left.

Defensor Sporting's most dangerous player will be Carlos Maria Morales. Despite being 37 years old, the foward is full of skill and has already scored 4 goals (...golazos) in this year's edition of the Copa Sudamericana. There are several other fantastic players on this team, so River must be extremely careful when attacking (the Uruguayans could liquidate the match in a few counter attacks).

The match will be shown live on Fox Sports en Espanol at 4:00 PM Pacific / 7:00 PM Eastern Time. A replay/tape delay will be shown tomorrow (Friday) as well, at 11:00 AM Pacific / 2:00 PM Eastern Time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Harsh Reality: River's Economy

Last night, Deportivo La Coruña added themselves to the long list of Augusto Fernandez-wanting teams (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Villarreal, Juventus, Lazio, etc.). Add that to the possible departures of Radamel Falcao Garcia (rumoured to possibly go to the EPL), Fernando Belluschi (always wanted during each transfer window), and Juan Pablo Carrizo (scheduled to return to Lazio).

This is sad because River finally started playing well after a loooong time. If we maintain this team we could actually fight for championships and start winning things. Unfortunately, it seems as if Aguilar & Co. are at it again. I am not a fortune teller, but everything seems to indicate that the following things have a good possibility of happening in December:

- River will lose their "goleador". It had been since the Cavenaghi days that we needed one of these. Someone finally stepped up, and his name is Radamel Falcao Garcia. It would actually be more surprising to see him stay than leave. Our search for a top-scorer will have to begin once again.
- River will lose two right-wings. Augusto Fernandez is currently playing on the right, and Fernando Belluschi on the left side. When Fernandez doesn't start, Belluschi moves back to his original position. With both of them possibly leaving, who will play on the right side (let's see if anyone can actually come up with a decent answer)?
- River will lose their starting goalkeeper. Juan Pablo Carrizo's loan will end and he will return to Lazio. Juan Marcelo Ojeda proved to be a good goalkeeper, but after being inactive for months, will he be able to recuperate his form?

None of these players are guaranteed to leave, but can we really expect them to stay? Besides them, other unmentioned players could be on their way out: Nicolas Sanchez and Oscar Ahumada were wanted in Italy, Cristian Nasuti could leave in exchange for minutes at another club, etc. How can River expect to win championships this way? It hurts to say it, but our arch-rivals Boca Juniors have been more than successful this decade. Their secret? A good and stable economy, which does not depend on selling their key players every six months. A clear example of this is their starting foward Rodrigo Palacio, who has been at the club for almost three years now. If he were to have arrived at River, there is no doubt that he would have left a long time ago. Instead of relying on transfers, can't we be more like Boca in the sense of maintaining the same team for more than one season and actually win important things? Besides, this would eventually bring in more money due to tournament prizes, player values going up, an increase merchandise sales, etc.

I didn't want to break the ice in the middle of our good moment, but nightmares are beginning to creep into my mind once again. With Jose Maria Aguilar in charge of our finances, even the unimaginable is inevitable.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gimnasia (LP): 0 - River Plate: 2 - Torneo Apertura 2007

During their match for the 14th Round of the Argentine Torneo Apertura 2007, River Plate were able to notch up their first away win of the season.

In the first half Diego Buonanotte put the ball past the net. Falcao then followed his footsteps, but the referee incorrectly called a foul on Gimnasia goalkeeper Cejas. Fortunately for the Colombian, he was able to gain his revenge by scoring River's final goal towards the last minutes of the match.

The game was important for many reasons:
- River has been having tremendous difficulties winning away from home. In fact, they were unable to win any of the eight played "outside" this season (till now of course).
- With Independiente losing to San Lorenzo, the difference in points between us and the leaders have now been minimized. Unfortunately, Lanus defeated San Martin (SJ) by a margin of 2-0 and our now the top team of the tournament. We are still five points away from them, with Independiente, Tigre, Argentinos Juniors, and Boca in between.

Ariel Ortega was once again the man of the match with his amazing passes and impressive ability. Diego Buonanotte also did great, scoring his second official goal in Primera. "The Dwarf" is not inscribed in River's Copa Sudamericana squad list, meaning that Daniel Passarella will not be able to repeat the same 11 that defeated Boca Juniors and Gimnasia (LP) on Thursday. Mauro Rosales, who came in in the second half yesterday, is expected to take his place.

Overall the team has made some major improvements as compared to early on in the season, with Ortega and Buonanotte's magic looking like the key to success. Radamel Falcao Garcia alo has to be thanked (the foward scored 6 goals in the last 4 games). The Copa Sudamericana and the Torneo Apertura, which both looked to be nothing else but an illusion before, are now becoming actually possibilites. Will Passarella and his boys find their long awaited oasis anytime soon?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gimnasia (LP) - River: The Preview

After a fantastic display two weeks ago vs. Boca Juniors, River Plate will finally be returning to the pitch. This time our rivals will be Gimnasia de La Plata, who aren't standing very firmly on the standings, but have been improving a lot since the arrival of new head coach Julio Cesar Falcioni.

Daniel Passarella will be starting the same eleven that defeated "Los Xeneizes":

Juan Pablo Carrizo;
Paulo Ferrari-Nicolas Sanchez-Eduardo Tuzzio-Leonardo Ponzio;
Augusto Fernandez-Oscar Ahumada-Fernando Belluschi;
Ariel Ortega-Diego Buonanotte;
Radamel Falcao Garcia

Although it may seem like it, the team will not be playing with two playmakers. Ortega will be a bit more up front, while Buonanotte will probably be a few steps behind him. Either way, this great duo will cause severe damage to it's rivals if they continue playing like they did in the Superclasico.

Two players that River must be careful with are Luciano Leguizamon and Ignacio Piatti. Leguizamon is an ex-River player, though he didn't receive many minutes (if any at all). He is a foward who can't stop scoring, and is used to putting the ball past the net for "el Lobo". Piatti, meanwhile, is a very young midfielder who is full of skill and good football. If our defenders are not able to contain them, both players will be very dangerous.

The match will be shown live on TyC Sports USA at 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern Time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Post-Superclasico 2007: Videos & Pictures

Well, I couldn't find the exact highlights I was hoping for, but I did find the following video (which I think is fantastic). It was made by "La Pagina Millonaria", and it shows the goals, some of the jukes (Ariel Ortega and Diego Buonanotte), but most importantly our amazing fans. Watch them set up a huge party in the Monumental, which included 180 red and white ribbons, thousands of balloons, and 2 tons of confetti paper.


About a month ago I also created a thread, based on our amazing fans, on the BigSoccer forums. It includes several pictures and videos from past games. I just posted some of Sunday's match vs. Boca, so feel free to check those out. If you want to see them or contribute to the subject, visit this link.

- Gonzalo

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Superclasico 2007: The Goals

Here are the goals of River Plate's 2-0 Superclasico win over Boca Juniors.

1st Goal: Radamel Falcao Garcia

2nd Goal: Ariel Ortega

The rest of the highlights are scheduled to be posted tomorrow. Enjoy!

River Plate: 2 - Boca Juniors: 0 - Torneo Apertura 2007

"Oooole, ooooole, oooooole, ooooole!!". The night finished off with River fans chanting and celebrating of joy. The ball, which went from River player to River player, could not be acquired by Boca Juniors, who were struggling in a day filled with fantastic football and passion displayed by the red-and-white side.

From the beginning, River Plate were clearly the better side. The "Millonaires" were able to open up the match with a powerful left-footed shot by Radamel Falcao Garcia. The difference was extended 10 minutes later, when Diego Buoanotte was fouled in Boca's area, leaving Ariel Ortega with a penalty which he later exchanged for a goal. During injury time of the first half, Ever Banega of Boca Juniors was given a second yellow card due to a very hard foul on Paulo Ferrari. After this, the match seemed like a free training ground for River players.

In the second half, River continued having opportunities but failed to conquer them. Either way, with a partial 2-0 score in our favor, the team didn't seem to be looking for a goal as much as before. They were more dedicated to the constant passing, the jukes (mainly coming from Ortega), and the embarrassment they made of the bosteros. The match eventually ended, leaving all River fans happy, though the score could have been maximized with a little more effort.

The Player Review -
Juan Pablo Carrizo: Not much for Carrizo to do but just sit back, relax, and enjoy the spectacle. Boca probably had one or two shots in the whole game, but even those weren't dangerous. Either way, we give two thumbs up to our starting keeper.
Paulo Ferrari: Although he wasn't too noticeable, he did a good job containing Rodrigo Palacio. He also had an important play which favored River throughout the match: with his speed, he managed to start a fast counterattack which resulted in a foul by Banega. The defensive midfielder was then expelled, leaving "la Banda" with an easy game thereafter.
Eduardo Tuzzio: Very firm in the back, like usual. With his never ending clearing and recuperations, he was one of the best defenders of the day.
Nicolas Sanchez: The ex-Nueva Chicago player had a good game and formed part of our solid defense, something that had been missing for quite a while lately.
Leonardo Ponzio: I was surprised to see him be a starter today, but I was even more surprised to see him play a great match. He may have not been accurate with his shots, but he defended very well and never stopped recuperating the ball. He ended up playing on the left side, and was much more solid than Cristian Villagra.
Augusto Fernandez: The youngster was one of the worst on the field, but this doesn't matter much: even then, it means that he wasn't as great as the other players but still did well. He gave some very good passes, though, such as the play in which he switched the ball to Fernando Belluschi (this led to our first goal).
Oscar Ahumada: Decent job by the #5. Not bad, not great: just fine.
Fernando Belluschi: Nice assist to Falcao on the first goal, and a very good game after that.
Diego Buonanotte: "El Enano" (the dwarf) continued bringing his magic to the pitch and received a standing ovation upon being replaced towards the end of the match. Besides, creating the second goal (he was the player who was fouled on the penalty), he participated a lot in the match and threw a few jukes here and there. He was fouled very often by Boca's players, who could not contain his fire. Having already proved himself in the few opportunities he has received lately, will he continue playing in the near future?
Ariel Ortega: "El Burrito" was simply the man of the match. One goal (the penalty shot), several great passes, humiliation of the "Bosteros": Ortega did it all. In his first Superclasico since his return to River, the ex-Argentine International proved that he is one of the best players in the league. He never stopped juking and was more than successful at it. 5/5 stars. Oooooorteeeeega, Oooooorteeeeega!!
Radamel Falcao Garcia: The Colombian seems to have opened up the goal to himself after scoring vs. Botafogo: in the last 3 games he played, he scored 5 goals. Falcao does not stop impressing and will be a vital part of this team if he continues to keep his form up. Let's just hope he doesn't get injured while playing for the Colombian National Team, though.
The Substitutes -
Matias Abelairas: Besides a few things every now and then, Abelairas was unable to leave his mark in one of the most important matches of the year. No negative points, especially since he came in during a moment of relaxtion and complete control for River, but not too many positives either.
Andres Rios and Mauro Rosales: Both fowards came in during the final minutes of the match and did not have time to show off their potential.

With the South American World Cup Qualifiers coming up, River will be able to rest for the next two weeks. We will return to the pitch vs. Gimnasia de La Plata, who will be arriving from a 1-1 tie with defending champions San Lorenzo.

Aguante River.. Thanks for this joy! Highlights and videos of the goals to be posted soon.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

River - Boca: The Preview

River Plate and Boca Juniors will be playing the 181st edition of the Superclasico (in the local league) tomorrow. The match, like always, is expected to be full of great football and excitement, clearly seperating it from the rest of the games in the league. Who will be playing for River? The following eleven are the ones expected to start:

Juan Pablo Carrizo;
Paulo Ferrari-Nicolas Sanchez-Danilo Gerlo-Eduardo Tuzzio;
Augusto Fernandez-Oscar Ahumada-Fernando Belluschi;
Diego Buonanotte;
Radamel Falcao Garcia-Ariel Ortega;

Almost all of the players listed above are very likely to play, but there is still one big doubt: will Andres Rios start? Despite scoring in the last 3 games in which he started, the Argentine press is now reporting that Daniel Passarella is analyzing the possibility of giving Diego Buonanotte a shot over him. "The dwarf", as he is nicknamed, has impressed fans with his jukes and ability in the last two matches, and the "Kaiser" wants to play him vs. Boca to add a bit of spice to the game. In the case that he does play, Ariel Ortega would be moving more up front alongside Falcao and would be more of a foward than a playmaker.

Besides the possible inclusion of Buonanotte, there will only be one change to the normal starting line-up River have displayed this season. Danilo Gerlo, who was substitued because of an injury vs. Argentinos Juniors, will be replacing Cristian Villagra, of poor form lately. Eduardo Tuzzio, though, will be the one covering the left back position, while Gerlo will be one of the two central defenders.

Edit: Daniel Passarella surprised everyone, and Leonardo Ponzio will actually be the one replacing Cristian Villagra. Ferrari will move to the left and Ponzio to the right, leaving Tuzzio and N. Sanchez in the middle. It has also been confirmed that Buonanotte will replace Rios, as speculated previously. The line-up has been updated above.

Boca Juniors, meanwhile, will almost surely display the following players from the first minute:

Mauricio Caranta;
Hugo Ibarra-Gabriel Paletta-Jonathan Maidana-Morel Rodriguez;
Pablo Ledesma-Ever Banega-Jesus Datolo;
Leandro Gracian;
Martin Palermo-Rodrigo Palacio;

This is a very dangerous side, with a strong defense and some good offense. Martin Palermo is a goal scoring machine, even at 33 years of age. Rodrigo Palacio, on the other hand, adds speed, while Gracian brings the passes and assists to Boca. If River defends like we have been lately (15 goals conceded in the last 4 games), then we could see a very horrific result. Hopefully the team goes out and plays like they did vs. Velez or vs. Botafogo in the second half, but you never know what might happen.

The match will be shown live on Fox Sports en Espanol and Fox Soccer Channel at 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern Time.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

River to Face Defensor Sporting

Despite today's final result of 2-0 favoring El Nacional of Ecuador, Defensor Sporting were able to advance to the Quarter-Finals of the Copa Sudamericana 2007, where they will be facing River Plate.

The Uruguayans will be very tough rivals, who have a great squad and have been doing very well in International competitions lately. I won't be saying much more than that, though: look for the preview a few days before the first leg is played. :)

The first leg of the series is scheduled to be played on Thursday, October 25th, while the second match will take place in the Monumental on Tuesday, October 30th.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Argentinos Juniors: 4 - River Plate: 1 - Torneo Apertura 2007

River lost 4-1 to Argentinos Juniors today, with Marco Ruben scoring our only goal. Without having seen the match, I wasn't too surprised when seeing the final result, due to River resting 6 normal starters (including 3 of 4 starting defenders) and returning to the 4-4-2 formation.

The loss has left us 9 points away from league leaders Independiente. Nice why to prepare for the Superclasico, right? (**sarcasm**)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Argentinos - River: The Preview

With all the substitutes that will be starting tomorrow, it would be fair to say that River "B" will be visiting Argentinos Juniors tomorrow. The following eleven will start:

Juan Pablo Carrizo;
Leonardo Ponzio-Danilo Gerlo-Federico Lusenhoff-Cristian Villagra;
Belluschi/Burzac-Nicolas Domingo-Rene Lima-Matias Abelairas;
Ariel Ortega-Marco Ruben;

Nicolas Sanchez, Eduardo Tuzzio, Paulo Ferrari, Augusto Fernandez, Oscar Ahumada, and Radamel Falcao Garcia will all be resting. Although many of them have been exhausted due to the tremendous efforts shown vs. Botafogo and Rosario Central, the expected starting team brings up a few worries:

1) Ponzio, Gerlo, Lussenhoff, and Villagra. What do I think when I hear those names? I think of literally our four worst players this season. Surprisingly enough, they will be making up our last line on the field tomorrow. Either way, it's not like our defense has been playing well lately, so I wouldn't necessarily say we are losing too much with these changes. Still, if Argentinos Juniors put out an offensive display, it shouldn't be too complicated for them to score.
2) The team will be playing without a playmaker, returning to the dreadful 4-4-2 formation. The last time we tried playing without a #10, we saw a horrible performance vs. Botafogo in the first leg of the Round of Sixteen of the Copa Sudamericana. Was it really necessary to put Rene Lima over Diego Buonanotte, who was fantastic on Sunday?
3) The two fowards don't seem to score much. Ariel Ortega often fails to leave a good image when playing as a foward, contrary to his game in the midfield. Marco Ruben, meanwhile, has been our striker with the worst goals per game ratio this season. Why couldn't we make room for Rios or Zarate, moving "el Burrito" back to his original position?
4) Argentinos Juniors are a great team at home, having beaten tough rivals such as Boca, Colon, and Newell's Old Boys there. Last week, in fact, they won 4-0 in their stadium! Add that to the fact that they always give River a hard time, and it makes you start wondering why are making so many unnecessary changes. A few are understandable, but I contiue to ask: why not play with a 4-3-1-2, with Ortega or Buonanotte as playmakers? Besides, Independiente won 3-0 over Gimnasia (JJ) today. Can we really afford to lose any more points?

A positive point is that Mauro Rosales has returned from his injury and will be on the bench. After his request to gain some minutes before the Superclasico, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see him come in for the second half.

The match will be shown live on TyC Sports USA at 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern Time.

Monday, October 1, 2007

River Plate: 3 - Rosario Central: 3 - Torneo Apertura 2007

What seemed to be a generally easy match, resulted in a tough day for River. The main problem was once again our team's defense, which our opponents would go through like a knife through butter.

"Los Millonarios" underperformed in the first half. Rosario Central, who hadn't been playing a very good game either, managed to score and put themselves up. In the second half, they took advantage of our weak defense once again and upgraded the partial result to 2-0. River, with youngster Diego Buonanotte on field, finally decided to wake up and almost re-accomplished the "Botafogo Miracle". With the team having tied 2-2 (goals by Andres Rios and Buonanotte), the third goal did not seem too far away. Unfortunately, the "Canallas" found a way to put themselves up for the third time in the game during injury time. But that wasn't the end of the match: Radamel Falcao Garcia, who entered in the second half, scored the decisive goal in the last minute of the game, just like he had vs. Botafogo on Thursday.

With both Independiente and Boca Juniors having lost their matches to Banfield and Newell's Old Boys, respectively, River Plate lost a good chance to renew their opportunities and catch up to the top teams. Still, the match left positive points, such as the team's accomplishment of tieing a tough game, as well as the very much awaited appearance of Diego Buonanotte.

The Player Review -
Juan Pablo Carrizo: Not bad, but not very safe either. Although he shouldn't be blamed for any of the goals, he still fails to provide the same secure feeling he gave us last semester.
The Whole Defense: Horrible. Everyone played bad. Paulo Ferrari showed signs of being completely worn out due to the long series of games played lately.
Fernando Belluschi: He attempted to help out a lot, but was very tired. His constant pressure in the last few matches is finally starting to effect the ex-Newell's player.
Nicolas Domingo: It may have not been his best match, but he continues being my favorite defensive midfielder on the team. He played because of Ahumada's suspension yesterday. Will he get another shot vs. Boca on Sunday?
Augusto Fernandez: Just like Ferrari and Belluschi, Fernandez was heavily affected by the all the matches played in such a short period time. Early on in the first half he hit the post with a strong shot from outside the box. Besides that, his exhaustion did not allow him to do much. Will any of these three players get a rest vs. Argentinos Juniors, or will they arrive in these conditions for the Superclasico?
Sixto Peralta: Poor match for "el Mumo". He didn't do anything important, and the team played bad with his conduction. When he was substituted, it was a completely different story. Sorry Peralta, but I don't think you were meant to play for this team.
Andres Rios: This kid cannot stop scoring. With Marco Ruben doing poorly, he started to receive opportunities and did not let Passarella down: in the last three games he started, he has scored three goals. Need I say more?
Rolando Zarate: After not playing since August, "Roly" was given another shot: this time as a starter in place of Falcao. He had a few nice headers but could not score. Not bad, but there always is some room for improvement.

The Substitutes -
Diego Buonanotte: The youngster, who had only played 8 minutes in Primera before this, replaced Peralta and was the man of the match. His excellent goal was only the frosting of his performance, which also included jukes and great passes. We were told a lot of good things regarding him in the past, and now he proved it with his football. Can we dream a little and hope to see him wear "la banda" on his chest vs. Boca?
Radamel Falcao Garcia: The Colombian, who hadn't started due to exhaustion and a slight injury, came in at the same time as Buonanotte and was the other player who changed the face of the game. He had several good opportunities, and even put the ball through the net towards the end of the match. He is playing fantastic, and I still fail to realize how anyone can jump as well as he can (he jumped almost 2 meters; see above picture).
Matias Abelairas: The left-winger replaced Augusto Fernandez and did a decent job. A few good things here and there, but his unexpected greediness missed River's chance to win the game when the score was still 2-2.

The result, which isn't too good considering our opponents were last in the league, was surprising and in a way satisfying considering how the match had started. The biggest joys, though, were the youngsters who came from our lower divisions: all three goalscorers (Rios, Buonanotte, and Falcao) were made in River. Other players, like Augusto Fernandez, Carrizo, Domingo, and Abelairas have also done well with our jersey, proving that buying players from other clubs isn't necessarily the solution to our bad moment. In fact, our worst players this season (Villagra, Lussenhoff, Ponzio, Ruben and Peralta) all came from "outside" clubs. Of course there is the ocassional good outcome (Belluschi and Ferrari are clear examples), but our youngsters are proving that they deserve a chance more than anyone. Will players like Mussachio, Oliva, Cardozo, Buoanotte, etc. start receiving regular opportunities anytime soon? Hopefully, but we'll have to leave that for Passarella to decide.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

River Plate: 4 - Botafogo: 2 - Copa Sudamericana 2007

First off, I want to thank River Plate for giving me this joy and accomplishing a true miracle, something that seemed more than impossible to accomplish. Today's game, despite being frustrating most of the time, ended up being a joy to watch and gave the fans one of the biggest celebrations in a long time.

River began the game very offensive-mindedly. The team constantly attacked and almost found the first goal at the 4th minute, just to be incredibly missed by Ariel Ortega. After that "los millonarios" kept on attacking, and seemed like they had the situation under control until Federico Lussenhoff gave away the ball and left a Botafogo player one on one with Juan Pablo Carrizo. Fortunately, our goalkeeper avoided the goal and left the match at a 0-0 score. As if that warning wasn't enough, though, Lussenhoff lost the ball again a few minutes later. This time, the ball ended up in the net and resulted in a score that favored the Brazilians just 11 minutes into the game. This meant that "la banda" had to find atleast three goals to qualify, making the task look very complicated.

After Botafogo's opening goal, River could not find the tie. Fortunately, Radamel Falcao Garcia made a fantastic header and put the match back on level terms at the 30th minute of the first half. The team was then able to get back on track, but missed several clear chances.

In the second half, River still had to take care of the complicated mission of scoring two more goals (remember, a 2-1 win would have eliminated us due to the away goal rule). To make things worse, Federico Lussenhoff was expelled out of stupidity in the beginning of the second part of the match. This left River with just 2 defenders (N. Sanchez & Ferrari; Villagra had previously been substitued) and opened up all sorts of spaces for Botafogo. The Brazilian side took advantage of this and found the partial 2-1 win and could have even found an extension to the lead.

Things could not have gotten worse, right? WRONG! In fact, at the 72nd minute of the game Oscar Ahumdada was directly expelled, leaving River with only two defenders and no defensive midfielder. But this is just when the miracle began: in the next 5 mintues, River flipped the score with yet another goal by Radamel Falcao Garcia and one by Andres Rios. Some fans, who had left the stadium early due to no faith in the team (lame fans.. not wanted in the Monumental), ran back quickly after hearing the news. The whole stadium was now filled with more faith than ever, and the fans did not stop cheering on the players. Then, the expected moment finally arrived: at the 91st minute, Ariel Ortega centered the ball, only to have the Colombian Falcao put it through the net again. The fans were now delirious, promising to not bring the party to an end for a long time.

In conclusion, River created a miracle that wasn't expected by even the most optimistic fan. Displaying some poor football, no one expected a team with only 9 players to score the necesary 3 goals in less than 20 minutes. Fortunately, the squad was full of heart and passion, and got through this tough situation by giving their best.

The Player Review -
Juan Pablo Carrizo: One of the players who showed the most love for the jersey. Besides avoiding a possible 0-1 score in the first minutes, he played with his heart and even attempted to find a goal at the end of the match when the score was still 3-2. Aguante Carrizo!
Cristian Villagra: "Kity" played a pretty good match. I never really liked this guy, but today he contributed a lot to the attack and gave a splendid assist-worthy pass to Ortega early on in the game. He was substituted in the second half by Matias Abelairas.
Nicolas Sanchez: The ex-Nueva Chicago player had the difficult task of keeping a strong 2-man defense in the second half. He didn't have a very good night, but it is complicated to shine when being so lonely in the back.
Federico Lussenhoff: Absolutely horrible. You can even go as far as saying that the final result was River: 4 - Lussenhoff: 2. Both goals were either directly or indirectly his fault. Not only did he help our rivals score, but he also didn't defend well at all and was awfully slow. The good news? His expulsion guarantees that he won't play in the next Sudamericana match.
Paulo Ferrari: Similar story as Sanchez's. He was one of the two defenders, and had a difficult mission.
Fernando Belluschi: Belluuuuuuschi, Belluuuuuuschi!! Another great game for the ex-Newell's Old Boy's midfielder. The #8 was pure heart, running everywhere from the first minute and fighting for every ball as if it were the last one he'd ever touch. No goals this time for Fernando, but a great game nonetheless.
Oscar Ahumada: The defensive midfielder played a good match, especially in the second half when he had to go back very often to fill the empty spaces. He stopped Botafogo's possible 3-1 lead on the goal line, and did very well until he was expelled.
Augusto Fernandez: Contradictory to his usual form, Fernandez played a poor match and barely appeared. He had one clear opportunity to score, but failed to do so.
Ariel Ortega: "El Burrito" had a good night and was important for the team. Yes, he did miss two very easy one-on-one opportunities with the goalkeeper, but that doesn't eliminate the fact that he gave some very good passes and the last minute assist to Falcao. If anyone on this team plays for the jersey, it's Ortega.
Radamel Falcao Garcia: What a game for the Colombian! Of our four goals, three of them were scored by Falcao, each of them being stupendous. This was the Falcao we first saw debut for River in 2005. Let's hope that he's able to maintain his form and continue on this positive scoring spree.
Andres Rios: The youngster got another chance to start and scored once again. His goal was vital, for it was the shot that put us up for the first time in the game. Other than the goal, he participated a lot in the team's plays and had an overall good performance.

The Substitutes -
Matias Abelairas: The leftie came in for the last 40 or so minutes, replacing Villagra. He helped out in the attack, as well as in our defense after Lussenhoff's expulsion. Nothing fantastic, but not bad either.
Nicolas Domingo: This guy is amazing. I've been saying it for a while now, and I'll continue saying it: Nico is the closest thing we have to Javier Mascherano. This guy is full of skill and ability, and proved it in last year's 3-1 win over Boca Juniors in the Superclasico. After a long injury, he returned to the first team today. Although he didn't start and only played the last 15 minutes, he left his mark. He recuperated a lot and eliminated Botafogo's offensive threat. He also kept the ball up in Max's (Botafogo's goalkeeper) area. Hopefully we get to see him start in the Quarterfinal game over Ponzio (Ahumada will be suspended).
Marco Ruben: The ex-Rosario Central foward did not have enough time to leave his mark. He entered when the game was still 3-2, in search of that required fourth goal. He was not able to find it (luckily Falcao was), and in fact did not even touch the ball very often.

Last but not least, we cannot forget about the fans. The whole stadium was filled with fanatics who sang their hearts out from the beginning till the end. The Fox Sports en Espanol commentators noted that their constant support marked it's influence in the result, something I agree with.

We were all left with a pleasant surprise today. A night which painted to be a dark one was transformed into a glorious day thanks to the players' heart and will to win the game. For now, Daniel Passarella will be able to sleep at night.

In the Quarter-Finals we will face either Defensor Sporting (URU) or El Nacional (ECU). Due to the abundant 3-0 win in the first leg, everything seems to indicate that we will be traveling to Uruguay for the next game. But if we learned anything today, it's to not relax so easily, for anything can happen. Thanks River for this joy!