South American shambles: How Boca vs River descended into Copa Libertadores farce

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Extreme weather, accusations of deliberate red cards and supporter violence - Goal looks at the 2018 two-legged continental finals clash

The historic Copa Libertadores Superclasico final between Boca Juniors and River Plate has predictably not been short of drama.

A game which most fans and officials would have wanted to be remembered as a spectacle of football has descended into a desperate farce after River fans blitzed the Boca bus ahead of the second leg.

Now the deciding tie has been postponed - twice - and a new date has yet to be finalised.

So how did it get like this? Goal takes a look back at the unfortunate timeline of the 2018 Copa Libertadores finals.


    Oct 31 | Boca beat Palmeiras to set up historic Copa final

    A 4-2 aggregate semi-final victory over Brazilian side Palmeiras makes history, ensuring that Boca will face off against their eternal rivals in the finals.

    Read the report here.

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    Nov 4 | CONMEBOL reject Gremio final appeal

    Defending champions Gremio were left feeling aggrieved following their semi-final loss to River and they sought to find a way to the final by making an appeal to CONMEBOL.

    The basis of their appeal was that the result should not stand because River boss Marcelo Gallardo broke suspension rules.

    CONMEBOL rejected the appeal, but Gallardo was hit with a further three-match suspension and fined $50,000 (£40,000).

    Read the full story.

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    Nov 5 | Away fans banned from attending finals

    With such a long-standing and bitter rivalry already established both clubs agreed that it would be best if away fans were prohibited from attending either finals game.

    The idea, of course, was to minimise the risk of violence.

    Argentina president Mauricio Macri was of the opposite view and wanted away fans to be allowed to attend.

    Read the full story here.

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    Nov 6 | Zenit star denies deliberately getting red card to attend

    One of the more bizarre stories to surface after the news of a historic Superclasico Copa Libertadores final was confirmed revolved around a Zenit player.

    Leandro Paredes, who began his career at Boca, was accused of deliberately getting himself sent off in order to allow him the freedom to attend the Copa final as a fan.

    "It's all a lie," Paredes said. "Nothing happened here. It's something that was invented in Argentina."

    Read the full story.

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    Nov 10 | Torrential rain scuppers first leg

    The build up to the historic finals had been relatively quiet, but on the day of the first leg the football gods conspired to wreak havoc on the plans.

    The game was due to be played on Saturday November 10 and it had to be rescheduled after the heavens opened to flood La Bombonera pitch, rendering it completely unsuitable for football.

    Read the full story.

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    Nov 11 | First leg ends all square

    As the rain continued to pour on Sunday November 11, there were serious concerns that the game might be further postponed, but it went ahead after getting the green light.

    Roared on by a 49,000 partisan crowd, Boca appeared to seize control of the game and went ahead twice, however River refused to roll over and they snatched a draw thanks to a Carlos Izquierdoz own goal.

    Read the match report here.

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    Nov 23 | Boca fans deliver incredible send-off

    Boca received a hero's send-off from their fans just a few days before the second leg when their fans filled La Bombonera to capacity... for a training session.

    Knowing that they would not be permitted into El Monumental, supporters packed into the ground to watch the final training session ahead of the match. There, they chanted and sang, urging Boca on to glory.

    The Azul y Oro officials were forced to close the stadium to ensure it did not become over capacity.

    Read the full story.

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    Nov 24 | Boca bus attacked by River fans

    Torrential rain aside, the build up to the first leg had been relatively smooth, but the second leg saw the event descend into a farce.

    Tensions had been simmering ahead of the second leg and they boiled over when River fans ambushed the bus carrying the Boca team to the stadium, throwing bricks and bottles at the vehicle.

    Read the full story.

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    Nov 24 | Police intervene with tear gas

    With violence erupting, police intervened, but only made matters worse as the tear gas which was released made its way through the broken windows of the bus, thus affecting the players further.

    Nov 24 | Two players hospitalised, more left feeling ill

    The ugly scenes resulted in two players being hospitalised, with Pablo Perez's eye hurt by shards of broken glass and Gonzalo Lamardo sustaining cuts to his head.

    Other players on the bus were left feeling nauseous thanks to the tear gas, not to mention thoroughly shaken by the attack.

  11. Marcelo Endelli

    Nov 24 | Game postponed

    The initial response of the match organisers was to push back the kick-off time and they did so twice, but the game was ultimately postponed until the next day.

    Boca president Daniel Angelici welcomed the news, saying that his team were in "no condition" to play the game.


    Nov 24 | River chief says fans should still be allowed

    River Plate president Rodolfo D'Onofrio was adamant that fans of his club should be allowed to attend Sunday's Copa Libertadores final second leg match, despite the violence which resulted in the game being pushed back. 

    Read the full story.

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    Nov 25 | CONMEBOL rues 'sad day'

    CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez rued a "sad day for South American football" and condemned those responsible for the violence.

    “CONMEBOL sympathises with the players, their families and all those affected," said Dominguez. 

    "What should have been a sporting event to live, enjoy and share the best of South American football became a shame."

    Read the full story.

  14. Marcelo Endelli

    Nov 25 | Tevez blasts CONMEBOL

    Carlos Tevez was among the Boca players who were affected by the bus attack and he was not shy in airing his grievances with the organisers for pushing for the game to be played.

    "Pablo Perez was in the hospital and they were forcing us to play. It is a shame," said Tevez.

    "There were two Boca players in the hospital, another one vomiting, I was vomiting too, everyone sneezing."

    Read Tevez's comments in full here.

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    Nov 25 | Final suspended again

    The second leg was originally rescheduled for November 25 at 5pm local time (8pm GMT / 3pm ET), but confusion reigned as discontent emanated from the Boca camp.

    The club wanted the game to be further postponed because the bus attack had put them at a serious disadvantage and they made an appeal to CONMEBOL.

    Agreeing with Boca's assessment, the South American governing body postponed the game.

    "The conditions are not equal, given there is a team that was attacked, said CONMEBOL president Dominguez. "When the teams of each club enter the field, we want there to be equal conditions. We want to see a show."

    A new date will be set in due course.

    Read the story in full.