Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
It is not meant to be ironic, but it is. It may be called El Show de Fútbol, but in truth they actually show very little football.
In fairness to the Sunday night shout-a-thon, it has graduated from not playing any of the weekend’s goals, to now putting a tiny screen in the bottom corner with the highlights while they carry on talking about River and Boca for two hours in the studio.
Oscar Ruggeri, the journalist that Maradona claimed ‘takes it up the ar*e’ is there, along with a couple of stalwarts of sports journalism and a few ex-pros who - if they are lucky - manage to get a few words in edgeways.
The Show de Fútbol (SDF) is highly entertaining. It requires suspending all notion of disbelief for most of the program, but it is compulsive viewing. (See the gang get stuck into some heated post-World Cup debate below).
Why are we dealing with a TV show when the Superclásico, River-Boca, the madre of them all, the Worlds Biggest Club Match, is just hours, minutes, seconds away?
Well, its very simple. The SDF could well be responsible for the major tactical change that we will see this evening.
Boca coach Claudio ‘Bichi’ Borghi likes a back three. It’s the way his teams play. It’s the way he won the league title just a few months ago with Argentinos Juniors. According to the SDF, however, “IT IS NOT THE WAY BOCA PLAY. OK????” The war against the ‘back three’ has become a crusade.
Borghi stuck to his guns, however, having signed the players to make up this rearguard – goalkeeper Cristián Luccheti, plus Cristían Cellay, Juan Manuel Insaurralde and Matías Caruzzo.
When injuries or suspensions have kicked in, Gary ‘The Pitbull’ Medel has stepped back in to the línea de tres.
When the results haven’t been forthcoming, however, (15th in the league with 17 points from 13 games confirms just how unforthcoming they have been…) SDF has had the answer. ‘Boca do not play with a back three.’
Now, just in time for the superclásico, SDF may well have won, as Boca are set to line up with a back four.
The favoured three, mentioned above, will all budge over a tad to make room for Clemente Rodriguez on the left.
Boca boss Borghi gets some more advice from the SDF...
This hardly means the issue is resolved, as after playing every single split second of Boca’s campaign to date, keeper Cristián Luccheti has been dropped. He’s not even on the bench. The erstwhile number one wanted public backing from his coach after a mistake last weekend. Programs like the SDF have, somewhat unsurprisingly, been constantly questioning the 32-year-old keeper.
Again, they have won. Borghi dropped the keeper he signed, so the keeper he wasn’t convinced by (Javier García) comes in for the biggest game of the season. Given García’s track record – fine saves countered by absolute howlers – anything could happen. He could ship five, he could be man of the match and keep a clean sheet.
With Lucas Viatri’s injury, Boca might be forced into making a sensible change by dropping the two centre forwards and bringing in the deeper-lying Pablo Mouche to accompany Martín Palermo up front. Needless to say, Boca’s chances of winning revolve around the axis of the side that is Juan Román Riquelme.
As for River, they too have their 30-something talisman - Ariel Ortega. The Little Donkey was confirmed in the starting eleven by interim coach J.J. López, who was in charge of the reserve team until a week ago.
He took over after Ángel Cappa was sacked and River realised initial favourite for the post Tolo Gallego wasn’t speaking to club president Daniel Passarella, and second choice Marcelo Bielsa was still locked down by his contract with the Chilean national side.
Midfield boss Matías Almeyda returns to add some leadership to the centre of the park, while Eric Lamela returns to the side to add some pace and flair down the left wing.
And to add a little extra spice to a fixture which already generates enough hatred to start a war, both sides are coached by men who once played for their opponents.
It’s show time.
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