Boca Juniors host Olimpo on Friday for the resumption of a
championship their playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme considers
tougher than the European leagues.
"It's tougher here than in Europe, defenders are smart, they
don't let you move," said Boca captain Riquelme, who has had
spells in Spain's La Liga with Barcelona and Villarreal.
The Argentina 2006 World Cup midfielder defended Boca's
pragmatic, counter-attacking style which has been criticised in
local media for lacking sparkle despite their runaway victory in
the Apertura championship in the first half of the season.
"Boca are the best in Argentina, it's not Velez [Sarsfield]
nor Lanus, and for six months we'll carry on being the best," he
told Fox Sports in an interview on Wednesday before the start of
the Clausura championship.
Boca coach Julio Cesar Falcioni, who had a scare in midweek
when his team needed penalties to overcome Santamarina of the
sixth tier after a 1-1 draw in the Copa Argentina round of 32,
also defended his tactics.
"Champions must be respected and valued... we won the title
by 12 points [from the nearest challengers]," he told ESPN.
Falcioni built his championship team from the back with a
defence who conceded a mere six goals in their 19 Apertura
matches and, with Riquelme back to full fitness after an injury-
plagued 2011, they are Clausura favourites.
Velez, Clausura champions last June and Argentina's
shrewdest operators in the transfer market, are Boca's chief
challengers while Racing Club could be a good outside bet if
they gel under former Argentina coach Alfio Basile.
Basile appears to have settled dressing room troubles caused
mainly by wayward Colombia striker Teofilo Gutierrez which
affected their Apertura campaign under Diego Simeone, who
departed for Atletico Madrid in the mid-season recess.
Estudiantes, Apertura winners in December 2010, should be a
force again under captain Juan Sebastian Veron, who has
postponed his retirement until June after a disappointing first
half of the season in which he struggled with angle trouble.
Relegation-threatened San Lorenzo, away to Lanus on Friday,
may have to wait to give newly signed Uruguayan striker Carlos
Bueno his debut.
Argentinos Juniors have asked for his move from
Mexico's Queretaro to be blocked while the Saints still owe them
money from the June transfer of Paraguay World Cup midfielder
Estudiantes are at home to Newell's Old Boys, now under
former Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino, on Saturday. Velez host
Godoy Cruz and Racing entertain Tigre on Sunday.
The biggest move in the transfer window belonged to the
Primera B Nacional, where Boca's relegated arch rivals River
Plate signed former France striker David Trezeguet.
Argentina's second tier has one 38-match season-long
championship which second-placed River have lit up with their
attacking football but found very tough as all their rivals play
them as if it was the match of their lives.
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