Friday, May 9, 2008

River Plate: 2 - San Lorenzo: 2 - Copa Libertadores 2008

After an initial 2-1 loss in the first game of the two-legged Copa Libertadores Round of Sixteen match match vs. San Lorenzo, "los Millonarios" needed to find a victory to qualify to the next round. Unfortunately, the final result was 2-2, leaving River out of the cup.

River actually played an overall good match. They dominated 80 of the game's 90 minutes, and played some of the best offensive football we've seen this season. We were unlucky not to put the ball past the net more than two times. Despite our 2-0 lead (goals scored by Matias Abelairas and Sebastian Abreu) with just 20 minutes remaining, San Lorenzo were able to tie the match with two men less on the pitch thanks to Gonzalo Bergessio, who scored two goals in just three minutes.

Now who is responsible for this? Just about everyone. Let's review:

- The Players: How could they let a comfortable lead slip, especially while playing 11 on 9? Not only that, but the defense showed poor marking on both goals (see video above).
- Jose Maria Aguilar: One of the first decisions when River's current President assumed was to not renew Ramon Diaz's contract and let him go. The same Ramon who won a record-breaking titles with River, has flipped San Lorenzo horrendous past (they finished as a midtable team and lost 7-1 to Boca in the season previous to his arrival) into a glory filled present. Aguilar was also presented with opportunity to bring back club idol Andres D'Alessandro, but chose to rather spend money on the likes of Cabral, Archubi, and Abreu. Guess who made the assist in San Lorenzo's second goal? You guessed it.
- The Referrees: Sergio Pezzotta had a terrible night, disallowing a valid goal by Sebastian Abreu, not calling a clear penalty in favor of River, and not expelling Andres Silvera (the forward later played a key role in San Lorenzo's first goal). In the first leg of the series, Hector Baldassi alaso showed poor performance: the FIFA International awarded the "Cuervos" a controversial penalty which sealed their 2-1 win. He should have also shown Gonzalo Bergessio a red card.. yes, the same player who ended up scoring the two goals in the second match
- Diego Simeone: Our coach committed some errors during the match. "El Cholo" took out Augusto Fernandez -who was playing a great match offensively, and was also one of the players who recuperated the ball most- in the second half and brought in Mauro Rosales. He did this with the score already 2-0 in our favor. Of course, upon doing this the defense became fragile and San Lorenzo found their way to the draw. Was it necessary to take out one of the best players on the field and bring another one who has no clue when it comes to defending? Besides, if what he was looking for was offensive power, he should have put in Ariel Ortega instead. Surprisingly enough, "el Burrito" ended up watching the whole match from the bench and didn't even play a minute. This was a game for Ortega, and if there's any player on the squad that knows how to play these games it's him.

The past is not editable, but the future can be changed. As seen above, pretty much everyone committed mistakes on the night where failure was the last option. Hopefully they learn from their errors, because failures are now becoming way too common in the Monumental.

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