Hanging by a thread

That’s the state of River Plate’s campaign and, perhaps, Diego Simeone’s job at the Núñez club on Wednesday night. Having lost the superclásico to Boca Juniors on Sunday, The Copa Sudamericana is all that’s left for River to play for. As such, their season started again on Wednesday night – but after dominating possession they lost 2-1 to Chivas de Guadalajara in the Monumental, with the fans singing for the return of Ariel Ortega as soon as possible. You can watch the goals right here.

Sebastián Abreu gave the Millonarios some hope for the second leg with a penalty right at the death after a handball in the Chivas box, but for the most part Chivas, in spite of a paucity of chances coming their way, deserved their win – or at the very least, River deserved to lose. Their final ball, especially in the last 20 minutes, was too often reduced to a long ball or high cross into the area, and they couldn’t find a way through the visiting rearguard in spite of coming close on a number of ocassions – particularly in the first quarter of the match, during which strikers Abreu and Santiago Salcedo missed some amazing headers.

On the stroke of half time, after River had dominated the opening period, Chivas took the lead through Omar Arellano, who pounced on a rebound after Juan Manuel Ojeda in the River goal had touched away a shot from Edgar Iván Solís. With ten minutes left in the second half, Orellano turned provider, escaping down the left on the counter and crossing for Marco Fabián de la Mora to stab home a second for the Mexicans. Abreu’s late penalty gives River a theoretical lifeline in the tie. But only if they can work out how a side featuring Salcedo, Abreu and Radamel Falcao García can find it so difficult to score…

Copa Sudamericana 2008, quarter-final: River Plate 1 – 2 Club Deportivo Guadalajara:

Any goals from Argentinos Juniors’ match against Palmeiras, and Boca Juniors’ match away to Internacional, will be online on Thursday evening – these two matches aren’t yet at half time as I type this, and I fancy getting a proper night’s sleep for the first time in a while tonight…

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5 thoughts on “Hanging by a thread

  1. Let’s face it, Salcedo isn’t about to score any goals. Not now, now soon, and not in the distant future, not for River at least. And Falcao, let’s also be honest – he’s a hero, but his goal scoring touch has long since dried up.

    Tuzzio at corners and Buonanotte on the left ran riot in the first 30 minutes, and only the Chivas goalkeeper kept it even, but when no goal came, you could sense tension creep into River’s play. The late penalty was a complete gift by Chivas – no reason at all for the defender to raise his hands. But I can’t see this River team getting a result in Guadalajara.

    My question is, why do Villagra, Fernandez, and even Abelairas keep getting games? All three epitomized River’s recent struggles – poor first touch, passes directly to the opposition, immediately committing a foul when they lost the ball, and in the case of Abelairas, free kicks wasted by lofting easy crosses right to the goalkeeper. There has to be a change, and not just el Cholo. These 3 players have had it too easy and need to know they have to perform well to keep getting games.

    Oh, and el Cholo out, Ortega back in, of course.

  2. Were u watching the same match sam??? As much as i dislike CRAP they should have won this game in a canter the amount of possesion & chances that they had!!! Don’t know why abreu ever left CRAP unless like most sth americans he was chasing the dollars. Funny how fans change there attitude towards mgr now that they are struggling, compared to when they were swanning about showing of the clausaura title!!!! Also bringing back ortega is a no brainer. Additionally does anyone know how f belluschi is doin in greece i cannot find out any info about him. Seroiusly good player could be another success story like zarate if he moves to a decent club.

  3. Sam,

    Moribund as River looked last night, that lifeline (their chances in the return leg) might not prove so slender in the actual event. Because Chivas–widely considered the Mexican “national side” due to employing only native players–has struggled almost as badly in their own Apertura (only three wins in twelve matches) as River has in theirs. They lost their keeper, Michel, for much of the season due to a senseless injury incurred in extra time of a meaningless match in a pre-season tournament (the bogus get-the-money Superliga with MLS clubs in the US); last night they were playing their third-choice keeper, a stand-in for a stand-in. Two important defenders lost to PSV over the past two years (Masa Rodriguez and Carlos Salcido) have not yet been adequately replaced. Goals have been scarce, and until the recent emergence of the young striker Omar Arellano, the departure (to La Coruna) of hundred-goal-scoring Omar Bravo has been sorely felt; for the Sudamericana there was a last-minute effort to bring in Nery Castillo (lost in the time warp at Man City), but the deal could not be done in time. At one low point in this difficult season Ronald Koeman was even flown in for negotiations as a replacement for manager Efrain Flores, even as Flores was attempting to prepare for a game. And last night Chivas’ success in Buenos Aires was all the more surprising given their superclasico against Club America is only a few days off, and demanding everybody’s attention. So how did they pull this off? Give credit to the wonderful veteran playmaker Ramon Morales, for holding things together. And to River of course, for sleepwalking through the evening. But considering the shaky season Chivas has had, believe me, none of their fans will be taking for granted an easy return leg back in Guadalajara. And really, how long CAN River keep playing this badly?

  4. Yes, Atul, I watched the same match – hence why I pointed out that River missed chances and dominated the match. That’s not the same thing as playing well, though. If River had played well last night, with the possession and chances they had, they’d have won by five goals. It’s been the same story for quite a lot of the last four years, saving the brief hiatus of this year’s Clausura in which they conceded few enough to take the title (but still weren’t exactly ‘breaking nets’ going forward).

    Tom, thanks for the update – I’ve edited your post ever so slightly so it now reads ‘Chivas’ rather than ‘River’, which I think is what you intended.

  5. Tom-
    That’s good info on Chivas. Some of those players may have been reserves, but they did the job, especially the goalkeeper.

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