Great Ar­gentina ri­valry resumes in Madrid


DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - SP RT - —AFP

Madrid: Six thou­sand miles away and 15 days later than planned, the Copa Lib­er­ta­dores fi­nal be­tween Boca Ju­niors and River Plate will be con­cluded on Sun­day.

There have been re­fusals, com­plaints and threats to go to court but the play­ers of Boca and River — Ar­gentina’s two great­est foot­ball ri­vals — landed in Madrid and all in­di­ca­tions are the sec­ond leg will be played.

Both teams — who played out a 2-2 draw in the first leg — trained lead­ing up to the game, Boca at the Span­ish na­tional team’s base at Las Rozas and River at Real Madrid’s Valde­be­bas, with the play­ers ap­pear­ing in good spir­its, laugh­ing and jok­ing, jump­ing on each other’s backs.

There was even a smat­ter­ing of fans wait­ing out­side, some hold­ing flags or note­books open for au­to­graphs, even if it was a world away from the rock­ing Bom­bon­era, packed out for an open train­ing ses­sion be­fore the orig­i­nal fix­ture was due last month.

That game had to be post­poned, three times, af­ter River fans in­jured Boca play­ers dur­ing an at­tack on their team’s bus. It could have been can­celled, or awarded to Boca, but CONMEBOL, the South Amer­i­can foot­ball fed­er­a­tion, chose to re­lo­cate to Spain.

“It is a weird fi­nal,” said Car­los Tevez, once of Manch­ester United and Manch­ester City, and now a striker for Boca.

“To play a match be­tween Boca and River in Madrid, it’s weird,” he added.

For many, this was the most im­por­tant match in Ar­gentina’s his­tory and its re­moval a na­tional em­bar­rass­ment. “Un­for­tu­nately for me, this match has lost im­por­tance in my heart,” said Real Madrid’s Ar­gen­tinian coach San­ti­ago So­lari on Wed­nes­day.


Boca Ju­niors fans throng out­side the team ho­tel ahead of the sec­ond leg fi­nal against River Plate in Madrid on Satur­day

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