Boca Juniors vs River Plate: how to watch, & who to watch

The 2011 Torneo Clausura edition of one of the world’s biggest football derbies kicks off in an hour and a bit, with River Plate traveling south to La Bombonera to take on Boca Juniors in the superclásico. Boca have been in better form in recent weeks but River, challenging for the title whilst also battling relegation thanks to previous seasons’ results (it’s a long story), have both a greater need for the points, and a better side on paper. The match will be played, of course, on grass though. Here are a few pointers as to how to watch if you’re not in Argentina – entirely legally, and for free. You’ll also find a quick ‘players to watch’ rundown.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I have just been informed via Twitter that Premier Sports TV in the UK are not showing the game live; they’ll be showing it delayed, from 11pm UK time.

Okay, the first one isn’t free. Or live. So a bit rubbish, really. But if you’re in the UK and subscribe to Premier Sports TV on Sky, you’ll be able to watch the super as live from 11pm British Summer Time, I am assured. If not, though, and if there’s no cable or satellite broadcaster in your country which has rights, you can watch completely legally – if with a tiny delay – on the internet. No fear of finding streaming sites shut down by the United States counter-terrorism unit (as happened to Rojadirecta earlier this year) or anything.

In Argentina, the game is broadcast on free-to-air television, and three channels are showing it. All three stream live, 24 hours a day, on their websites, which means you can watch the game on any of them. Before following these instructions, make sure popups are enabled in your browser, as at least (possibly two) of the channels will open the stream in a new window.

Canal 7, the main public broadcaster, is the least reliable in terms of streaming, but their website is here. If you get a message saying the site is down (‘Estamos realizando tareas de mantenamiento’), try refreshing the page using Ctrl and F5. If it’s still there, try again in a couple of minutes. If the homepage loads without problems, you’ll find a link in the menu near the top with ‘Vivo’ – clicking that will open the stream.

CN23 is a news channel whose website you’ll find here. The stream is right there on their homepage – you just need to press play and wait a minute for it to buffer. Incidentally if you’re reading this an hour or two before the super, you can enjoy Estudiantes vs Tigre on this channel while you wait. The delay from the TV on this one, both of which I’ve got on to test whilst writing this post, is about one second on my not lightning fast internet connection.

26 Noticias, another news channel, is the other option. Their website is here, and the link to their live stream is on the right; underneath the 26 logo, click the link reading, ‘Hacé click aqui’. At the time of writing it’s got more of a delay, and on my connection at least is a bit more buffery than CN23. It’s pretty reliable though.

I’d recommend the two news sites over Canal 7, whose webmasters seem terminally unable to actually keep their homepage online longer than five minutes at a time. However you choose to watch, you can follow along on my Twitter timeline and perhaps right here on HEGS with a minute-by-minute (or at least, five-minutes-by-five-minutes) update kind of thing, for those who don’t know the players and might want some pointers as to who’s just scored that scrappy two-yard toe-poke (that’ll be Martín Palermo; yes he is still playing) or made that ridiculous run to split Boca’s defence apart (Erik Lamela; remember the name).

I also post links every weekend to most of the Primera matches on Twitter, so if you enjoy your first taste of Argentine football, do bear in mind that most of the games are better than this super will probably be, and keep watching in future…

Players to watch: Boca Juniors

Martín Palermo (9), Boca’s hulking, glacial number 9, is playing in his final superclásico, and it’s a fixture in which he’s scored plenty of goals down the years, often with trademark memorable celebrations (none of this choreographed nonsense; he just goes mental. Infamously, he once broke his own leg celebrating a goal whilst at Real Betis). He’s possibly the slowest person ever to call themselves a professional athlete, but that won’t stop him being a real handful for River’s defence, especially after breaking the worst goal drought of his career recently to go into this game having scored three goals in as many games.

Juan Román Riquelme (10), the languid, surly-faced playmaker, is Boca’s other talisman. He’s never lost his pace because he never had any to begin with, but he still passes as if he has a protractor built into his brain. Having struggled with injury in recent years he was anonymous in the last super – a 1-0 home victory for River – after twanging a ligament six minutes in. He’ll want to make up for that this time, as will all of his team. Quite simply, if Riquelme plays, Boca look like a team. If he doesn’t, they’ll struggle.

Juan Manuel Insaurralde (13), like the rest of Boca’s defence, has looked out of sorts since joining the side from Newell’s Old Boys in the middle of last year. He was a solid centre back for Newell’s, but has been at the heart of a Boca defence which has rarely looked confident this term. Under Julio César Falcioni, Boca have conceded 15 goals in 13 matches – almost twice as many as River, who’ve let in 8 – even whilst playing with a notably safety-first approach for most of the Clausura. Insaurralde isn’t the stand-out reason for that, but he is symptomatic of it. He’ll have to play well, and hope his defensive partners can do the same, today.

Players to watch: River Plate

Erik Lamela (10) is River’s bright young thing, a 19-year-old playmaker who’s rumoured to already have been sold to an investment group which will see him move on at the end of the Clausura. If that doesn’t happen, he’ll be in Europe by the time the 2012-13 season kicks off, or I’ll eat my hat. Lamela might like himself a bit too much, but not without reason: he’s got it all. A sensational dribbler and an intelligent passer, Boca’s defence will be more worried about him in the hole than the two forwards in front of him, Mariano Pavone and Rogelio/Gabriel Funes Mori (who can’t decide which first name he prefers), neither of whom are likely to score.

Matías Almeyda (25), the long-haired veteran of Argentina’s 1998 World Cup campaign is 37-years-old, like Martín Palermo, though unlike Palermo this shouldn’t be his last super – he’ll play until at least the end of 2011. He brings a calm head, intelligent positioning and just a hint of nastiness when it’s needed to the base of River’s midfield, and will be key to how the visitors combat the vision of Riquelme.

Juan Pablo Carrizo (1) is the goalkeeper who never quite made it in Europe, falling out with managers or directors at Lazio and Real Zaragoza and thus being loaned from the Italian side back to River, where he was bought from in 2008. Carrizo was in goal for Argentina’s infamous 6-1 embarrassment away to Bolivia in the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, and seemingly since than has been on a mission to prove he’s a much better goalkeeper than that scoreline suggested (he is). The best goalkeeper in Argentina, he’s protected by a decent defence but is still the main reason River go into this game with the best defensive record in the league (joint with Argentinos Juniors). He’s also no stranger to showboating; if he’s got the ball at his feet and a Boca forward runs to close him down, don’t be surprised to see him try a Cruyff turn or two.

You can follow the ins and outs during the 2011 Torneo Clausura, as well as the country’s vast foreign legion and the latest news from the selección during the 2010-2011 season direct from Buenos Aires with HEGS on Twitter. If you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here. You can also join the official HEGS Facebook group, to keep up to date with the latest posts on the blog and discuss things with other fans. You’ll find it here. Also remember to bookmark Hand Of Pod, our Argentine football podcast, or if you prefer you can subscribe to it on iTunes here.

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