Boca Juniors and River Plate prepare to settle Copa Libertadores

boca juniors and river plate prepare to settle copa libertadores

The Copa Libertadores is due to be settled on Sunday when River Plate and Boca Juniors play the second leg of the final – two weeks later than planned and more than 10,000 kilometres away from Buenos Aires.

Never before had the arch-rivals from the Argentine capital met in the final of the South American championship but the two-legged contest has not been a positive advert for the country.

Before the first leg, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri described the meeting as a historic event but also "an opportunity to show maturity, that you can play in peace."

It did not work out as Macri, a former Boca president, had hoped.

Following a 2-2 opening draw at Boca's Bombonera Stadium, the November 24 return at River's Monumental was postponed after home fans attacked the Boca team bus and injured several players.

South American confederation CONMEBOL initially tried to play the game 24 hours later but with Boca not recovered from the attack, they eventually moved the match to December 9 at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu.

Boca Juniors forward Carlos Tevez said the players would now concentrate on the game in the strange situation.

"It is a bit weird to play here but it is important for us to focus on how the game will be in Madrid," the 32-year-old told the BBC.

"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."

As with many compromises, the solution is one which left both sides unhappy for different reasons.

River are protesting against losing home advantage while Boca do not want to play at all, believing they should have been awarded a walkover victory.

Tickets have been in high demand for the 81,000-capacity Bernabeu and playing abroad means supporters of both teams can attend – unlike in Argentina.

Violence over several years led to away fans being banned in the country but now both sides will be cheered on, albeit with supporters strictly segregated inside and outside the ground.

Many fans are making the long journey to Madrid from Buenos Aires while Argentines living in Spain have also had the chance to buy tickets.

Nearly 5,000 police and stewards will be in action to maintain order.

“I have no doubts that fans of River and Boca can get along together. This is a game," River Plate president Rodolfo D’Onofrio told Spanish radio.

"The troublemakers cannot be allowed to get into the stadium. As I understand it the authorities in Argentina have taken preventative measures and that in Spain they will put behind bars anyone that deserves it.”

Whoever wins will have some time to celebrate before representing South America at the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates later in the month.

That is likely to be of second consideration, however, to the joy of lifting the trophy against their greatest rival.

"Whoever loses will need 20 years to recover," Macri said.

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