The Copa Libertadores will draw to a rather sad end on Sunday, with the second leg of the final between Boca Juniors and River Plate to take place at the Bernabeu in Madrid.
Attempts to play the fixture at River’s home ground of El Monumental were postponed a fortnight ago, initially for a day, following an attack on the Boca bus as it travelled to the game, leaving players suffering from cuts and the effects of tear gas.
However, with the visiting players still ailing physical and psychologically from that experience, it was ultimately pushed back by CONMEBOL and shifted to a neutral ground in Europe, much to the frustration of both clubs.
All this has rather overshadowed what was a thrilling first leg, which finished 2-2.
|Game||River Plate vs Boca Juniors|
|Date||Sunday, December 9|
|Time||3pm GMT/10am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched on Telemundo and streamed online at Telemundo Deportes En Vivo.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|Telemundo||Telemundo Deportes En Vivo|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be broadcast on BT Sport 1 and can be view on the BT Sport app. An online stream will be available on the website for Goal readers.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 1||Goal|
Squads & Team News
|Position||River Plate players|
|Goalkeepers||Armani, Lux, Bologna|
|Defenders||L. Martinez, Maidana, Lollo, Pinola, Casco, Montiel, Moreira|
|Midfielders||Zucullini, Ponzio, Fernandez, Palacios, Perez, Mayada, Quintero, De La Cruz|
|Forwards||G. Martinez, Pratto, Scocco, Borre, Mora|
River Plate are without forward Rafael Borre after he picked up a third yellow card of the competition in the first leg, rendering him suspended for this encounter. Nicolas De La Cruz, meanwhile, is also sidelined.
Possible River Plate starting XI: Armani; Maidana, Montiel, Pinola, Casco; Enzo, Ponzio, Fernandez; Martinez; Pratto, Palacios
|Position||Boca Juniors players|
|Goalkeepers||Andrada, Rossi, Lampe, Bustillos|
|Defenders||Magallan, Izquierdoz, Goltz, Balerdi, Fabra, Mas, Olaza, Peruzzi, Jara, Buffarini|
|Midfielders||Barrios, Chicco, Nandez, Gago, Perez, Almendra, Reynoso|
|Forwards||Cardona, Pavon, Espinoza, Villa, Tevez, Zarate, Benedetto, Abila|
Boca go into this clash without Frank Fabra, who is a long-term injury concern owing to serious knee ligament damage. However, Cristian Pavon has been passed fit after going off injured during the first leg.
Goalkeeper Esteban Andrada is fit and starts after missing the first leg, while Lucas Olaza is also in the starting XI having shaken off a minor knock. Carlos Tevez is made to settle for a place on the bench.
Possible Boca Juniors starting XI: Andrada; Buffarini, Izquierdoz, Magallan, Olaza; Nandez, Barrios, P. Perez, Pavon; Benedetto, Villa
Betting & Match Odds
River Plate are 11/8 favourites, according to bet365. Boca Juniors can be backed at 11/4, while a draw is priced at 2/1.
The citizens of Madrid have been blessed by footballing riches over the years, with both Real and Atletico among the very best sides in the world at present. On Sunday, however, they will have the opportunity to see a rather unusual spectacle as the final of South America’s most glamorous club competition pays an unexpected visit to the Bernabeu.
All of the 85,000 tickets have been rapidly snapped up, but while the match is hotly anticipated in Europe, to those back home, it is a sad indictment of where the country lies socially.
“Today we should be talking about how River and Boca are putting Argentina on the highest pedestal possible and instead we are talking about violence instead of what the teams have achieved this season,” said Schelotto.
“Unfortunately, we haven't learned from the same errors we have made before and we have ended up damaging Argentina and South America.
“What happened two weeks ago happens a lot in Argentina and South America but I think it will have to change because if you cannot play Boca versus River in Argentina it's very worrying.
“It's the time to take measures and start to show an example.”
Boca forward Carlos Tevez, meanwhile, made his unhappiness known when speaking to BBC World Service: “I think it is embarrassing for the people, not so much for the players.
“They took away our dream of playing the final in our country.”
The pantomime surrounding the second leg will, unfortunately, overshadow events on the field, with a rip-roaring first encounter between the teams having been pushed firmly into the shade.
Boca twice led in that encounter, with Ramon Abila’s opening goal cancelled out in the blink of an eye by Lucas Pratto. The hosts responded through a Dario Benedetto goal in first-half stoppage time, though an own goal on the hour mark leaves the tie delicately poised ahead of the encounter in Madrid.
It promises to be a unique affair – and one that no-one in CONMEBOL wants to see repeated.