¡River Campeón!

Buonanotte celebrates the championship-clinching goal

It took a lot of digging deep in Sunday’s match against a spirited and highly motivated Olimpo, but after four long years River Plate are finally able to call themselves champions of Argentina again. Thanks to a stellar performance from young gun Diego Buonanotte, Diego Simeone’s side claimed the club’s 33rd professional league title, beating the bahíenses 2-1 in El Monumental whilst Simeone’s former club, Estudiantes, could only draw with Colón. those results mean the championship race ends one round before the season does, but also leave the relegation battle going all the way down to the wire…

River dominated the opening exchanges against Olimpo, raining down attacks on their struggling opponents and forcing Olimpo goalkeeper José Ramírez into a string of fine saves throughout the opening period. Although Olimpo had had their chances, River were a little unfortunate to lead by only one goal after 45 minutes, Buonanotte finishing strongly from just outside the penalty box in the 16th minute after a half-cleared corner. There were more chances – most notably when Radamel Falcao García blazed inches over after the ball rebounded to him off the crossbar following a corner – but Olimpo hung on and trailed by only one at the break.

In the second half, Olimpo came out fired up, knowing that they had to win in order to save themselves from automatic relegation, and River, already forced back onto the counter at times in the first half, had to hold strong, looking a little shocked at first that Daniel Florit’s side, having taken 15 points from a possible 18 in their previous six matches, were coming at them so readily.

Olimpo got their reward for the spirit and adventure they showed away to one of the country’s biggest teams when Josemir Lujambio, so often their saviour this season, equalised twenty minutes into the second half. River’s fans, though, who haven’t always had the best of relationships with some of their players during this campaign, continued to roar their support from the packed stands, as the team carried on pressing forward. The players responded: Matías Ahumada was superb in the middle, Ariel Ortega pulled the strings just behind the front three and Juan Pablo Carrizo, admonished after signing for Lazio early on this season, did what was asked of him when Olimpo did breach the defence.

Radamel Falcao García drew some everyman sympathy after he collided with Ramírez whilst chasing a through ball and there was some light relief as those of us who know what it’s like to walk into the corner of a table were able to watch highly-trained sportsmen rolling around in agony after a clash of knees. Minutes later, Falcao was flagged very narrowly offside, but in the 33rd minute it was Buonanotte who sprung the visitors’ trap, running onto a through ball from the superb Ortega and finishing right-footed across the face of goal to send the home crowd into raptures.

Whilst this was all going on, Estudiantes were giving their all and absolutely battering Colón de Santa Fé in the Estadio Municipal de La Plata, but couldn’t find a way through the visitors’ defence. River hung on and attention switched to the closing minutes in La Plata. At the final whistle, Colón, who now go into the final weekend’s relegation head-to-head with Racing knowing a draw will be enough for safety, celebrating as if they’d won the championship. River, after a hiatus many of the country’s most domestically-successful fans will feel was far too long, finally have done. Manager Diego Simeone may still be a long way off finding his ideal side, but the loss in the superclásico and the spectacular capitulation to San Lorenzo in the Copa Libertadores will be forgiven and forgotten now the trophy drought is over.

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18 thoughts on “¡River Campeón!

  1. DALE RIVER!

    33! Ay che bostero! You will never catch us! No penalty kicks, no away goals. The torneo is for real champions. :)

    Buonanotte’s first goal was actually from a perfectly worked free kick, Sam. It’s one Huracan did against River last week, and River very obviously copied it, but did it better! And that was Abreu with the clash of knees with the excellent Ramirez. Poor Abreu, he missed the sitter of the century on the stroke of halftime. But he battled hard and was as happy as anyone at the final whistle.

  2. All I wonder now is: “where are the corn-throwing plateistas now?”

    They are surely celebrating yet another short and very poor league title while they were nowhere to be seen after their incredible defeat against San Lorenzo in the Libertadores.

    It just annoys me to hear a bunch of resurrected “true River fans” with their claxons and their Obelisco ridiculous celebrations and having to put up with them saying just how great they are.

    Sad, really.

  3. That feels like a personal attack, Seba. I was in the Monumental last time River won the title and I’ve not been able to get back there since!

    Justin, thanks for pointing that out. My stream froze for a minute and came back up literally as Buonanotte hit his shot, so to me it looked like open play. Great finish either way!

  4. It’s not a personal attack, Sam! Please, don’t take it the wrong way. I’m just asking where are those fans that no more than one month ago were throwing corn seeds to their own players?

  5. Seba you know how it is, some fans are spoiled. River fans waited 4 years for a trophy, which really isn’t that long, but for some of them who are spoiled they can’t take it and have to attack the players. Anyway I’ve seen the video, it was literally one guy throwing corn, so I don’t think we can tar thousands of fans because of that.

  6. I disagree. It wasn’t just one fan. I don’t know how many were throwing corn but I know those who weren’t, were abusing the players and asking them (especially Ahumada) to get the hell out of River.

    I know how it is and I’m not having a go at you or Sam, who are clearly legit and passionate fans. If it looked like that, I’m sorry and I apologise.

    But what I’m saying is true in a good % of River fans. It’s just the nature of the majority of them (not a 100% of them).

    Fans of certain teams have a common denominator in the way the majority of them think. There are some that will follow through thick and thin and those who will only turn up if their team is doing well.

    Again, nothing personal as every club have true fans and those who only sing when they’re winning.

  7. yeah same with me. it froze for the last 5 minutes but oh yes we are the champions. poor old boca have nothing its very upsetting

  8. I think most River fans will agree it wasn’t a pretty campaign, and that we probably weren’t the best side either, but sod it, Estudiantes shot their bolt and Boca didn’t win bread nor cake (as the expression goes).

    ¡Sí, sí señor. Campeones otra vez!

  9. Agreed Joe, not a pretty campaign. But the away form was MASSIVELY improved under el Cholo. Wins away to Velez, Huracan, Lanus, and good draws away to the rat stabbers and Independiente, those are the points that made the difference I think. Under Passarella River were losing games 4-0 away from home.

  10. 2 questions:

    1. when will Buonanotte start getting caps for the national side? he should be on the olympic team at the bare minimum, no? I can see this guy being the #10 by 2014 & 2018 for Argentina.

    2. why do players like falcao and carrizo wear different jersey numbers for the copa libertadores and domestic leagues?

  11. Chris,

    1. It’ll happen, I’m sure. Bear in mind that brilliant though he’s been over the last year (and the last six months especially), there’s not exactly a shortage of competition for the selección in Buonanotte’s position…

    2. Because the players have to be registered separately for the two competitions, and that includes what squad numbers they’re given. The same thing happens in UEFA competitions, although of course they’re normally registered with the same squad numbers for both. Lionel Messi springs to mind, because in the 2003-2004 season he was number 19 for Barcelona in La Liga, but number 30 in the Champions League.

  12. Did Abreu do anything good this year?

    Ortega was awesome in this campaign. Buonanotte can thank Ortega’s for some of those goals. Of course, other goals were 100% Buonanotte.

    Simeone is also showing real coaching talent. Of course, he is handed loads of talent but he converts teams from contenders to champions.

  13. hastaelgolsiempre –

    thanks for the explanation – that’s been bothering me for awhile.

    I hope Diego can pack on some more meat to his bones and get some caps for ARG. I’ve been watching him play since last year and he’s one of my favorite players to watch in the world.

    i had the privelage of watching a game live at the Monumental this season (1st game) and our view was close enough to see DIego up close and all my friends who know squat about futbol went nuts anytime Diego had the ball b/c of his flashiness and pizzazz

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