Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
Having occupied antipodean places in last year's Apertura league table, Boca and River appear miles apart. But, in fact, their plights are far more similar than it may appear.
River all but imploded (although the administration remained strangely calm) during their disastrous season in which they finished bottom. Diego Simeone is long gone, and now with a team full of young pretenders, and the papers full of rumours, there have been no major signings.
Simeone: Long gone after leading River to rock bottom
Even Ariel Ortega, on a break for alcoholism treatment, looks more likely to go north to Peru than return to the Monumental. So there is little reason to believe that River's next season will be any more delightful than the last.
Boca, despite winning the title, have still had their fair share of turbulence, most of it caused by the appointment of former coach Carlos Bianchi as general manager, who is in danger of undermining namesake Ischia's tenure as coach.
Bianchi waded in to diffuse his first spat this week. Mauricio Caranta, Boca's former first-choice goalkeeper, was dropped from the squad – allegedly for the whole season - by Ischia, and told he must find a new club.
The apparently confused Caranta told the press: "When did I make a mistake? Where did I lie? It is a personal problem of mine, of my daughter, is it much less than a game of football? If having a problem with my daughter and trying to solve it is a sin, I don't understand, and if that doesn't allow me to play, I understand it even less."
What the problem was with his daughter is anyone's guess. "I never spoke about my problems with the players," he continued. "I never talked bad about anyone, perhaps Ischia thinks I killed a person, and I don't know about it."
Caranta: "I didn't kill anyone... honest"
It all culminated in a bizarre scene at a hotel in Tandil, a small town outside Buenos Aires where Boca stage their summer training camp. Caranta wasn't even allowed into the hotel where the players and Ischia were resting, instead leaving Bianchi to turn him away at the door.
Boca vs River may be one of the biggest games in the world, but both teams must sort our their own problems first before they can even think about taking on their arch-enemies.
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