The 2008 Torneo Apertura superclásico kicks off in a little under six hours, but already the starting lineups are known, bar any last-minute calls of bluff or injuries in the warmup. Luciano Figueroa’s transfer has officially gone through in time for the former River striker to start on the bench for Boca, wearing the number 18 (1+8 = 9, you see). Diego Simeone’s River look set to start out in a 4-3-1-2, whilst Carlos Ischia has spent most of the week training Boca in a 5-3-1-1, which on Friday he claimed the team won’t be using in the match. The match kicks off at 16:20 (19:20 British Summer Time), and will be refereed by Héctor Baldassi, who also took charge in the Monumental a year ago. We’ve got the teams right here, along with the shirt numbers for the starting XIs – just in case you’ll be watching without sound for any reason and don’t know the players.
Ischia explained on Friday in the pre-match press conference that he’d only used the scheme with five defenders because he was having to train for most of the week without the players who were away on national team duty in the South American qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. With both Martín Palermo and Rodrigo Palacio injured, Ischia is likely to take one of those five defenders away, and add a second playmaker, to turn it into a 4-3-2-1. Expect to see Juan Román Riquelme partnered by Osvaldo Gaitán behind striker Lucas Viatri. Paraguay defender Julio César Cáceres, who said some nasty things about Riquelme during the week, will play against his former club.
River, meanwhile, have less pressure – they go into the match second bottom of the table and with the Copa Sudamericana as a very clear priority now over the league title, compared with Boca, who must win if they want to try and keep alive the very slim hope of overhauling San Lorenzo at the top of the table (Boca are currently sixth, 11 behind the leaders following El Ciclón‘s win over San Martín de Tucumán). Diego Buonanotte will start behind Santiago Salcedo and Colombian Radamel Falcao García at the sharp end, for a River side who – amidst some infighting in the Boca camp during the week – have been a model of tranquility. Of course, if they lose today, that could change very quickly.
Probable teams: River Plate vs. Boca Juniors, 19th October 2008, Estadio Monumental:
River Plate (managed by Diego Simeone):
J. M. Ojeda (1)
P. Ferrari (4) —- G. Cabral (24) —- E. Tuzzio (6) —- C. Villagra (3)
A. Fernández (28) —- O. Ahumada (5) —- M. Abelairas (11)
D. Buonanotte (30)
S. Salcedo (23) —- R. F. García (9)
Substitutes: D. Vega; D. Gerlo; L. Ponzio; M. Galmarini; M. Díaz; M. Rosales; L. Ríos
Boca Juniors (managed by Carlos Ischia):
J. García (12)
H. Ibarra (4) —- J. C. Cáceres (2) —- G. Paletta (29) —- C. Morel Rodríguez (3)
F. Vargas (22) —- S. Battaglia (5) —- J. Dátolo (23)
O. Gaitán (28) —- J. R. Riquelme (10)
L. Viatri (27)
Substitutes: J. Ayala; J. M. Calvo; J. Forlín; L. Gracián; C. Chávez; L. Figueroa; R. Noir
As with previous supers, I’ll be doing my best to keep you updated with a live(ish) text commentary through the course of the match. Inevitably (it always happens) my computer will crash midway through the first half, but if you want to witness mental breakdown writ large upon an Argentine football website, do join us just before kick off.