River turn tables on Boca - sort of...

A little over a year and a half ago, Boca brushed off the challenge of San Lorenzo and Tigre to win the Apertura 2008.

The title win was historic for two reasons: first, because they won a historic three-way playoff to win the championship, and second, because down at the other end of the table were River Plate. For the first time ever, Boca were first, while River were 20th.

After matchday three of the Apertura ’10, the tables have turned.

Pedants will choose to point out that River are not actually top of the table, and Boca are not actually bottom, but the point remains.  River are second to Vélez having conceded one more goal, while Boca are joint second-bottom. Unlike Tigre, they have one point.

Neither league position tells the whole story, but in the case of Boca, the excrement is well within touching distance of the fan. And rather than pesky foreign bloggers, or even the excitable local journalists suggesting the coach should get the sack, it was the coach himself who, on Sunday, declared that next weekend’s match is make or break.

  Claudio Borghi - feeling the pressure... 

‘The game against Vélez will determine it,’ said Claudio Borghi about whether he will stay on, after seeing his side lose to All Boys. Just four matches in, Boca could be looking for a new coach.

It’s true that at the weekend they lost to a newly promoted team who, on paper, had home advantage but in fact were not even playing at their own ground. It’s also true that Boca showed little, or no sign whatsoever of turning around the two-goal deficit that All Boys took into the break. It was also the second consecutive defeat. And the three-at-the-back doesn’t seem to be working too well yet. But it is still far too early to walk out.

All the same, Borghi says he’ll leave if the side does not win next weekend. As opponents go, facing Vélez right now is as hard a game as you can get in Argentina. It is certainly not the game to place your future employment on if you want to keep your job.

The board insist they are not looking for replacements, ‘but we are worried because we spent a lot on signings,’ said Boca’s vice president, José Beraldi. 

Borghi spent $10 million on new signings – a fortune for broke Argentine clubs, even Boca – yet all of those players brought in looked like good signings. And Borghi joined Boca over the close-season as the title-winning coach, having lead Argentinos Juniors to win the Clausura. There are promising youngsters ready for a taste of top flight football. Boca were not meant to have taken one point from nine.

Riquelme said he hopes Borghi is still in charge when he returns to action. Palermo also backed Borghi, but admitted that Boca ‘have lost the respect of other teams.’ If Borghi does decide to walk next weekend, he will be the shortest-serving coach at Boca in 30 years.

Old mates Palermo and Riquelme have both backed Borghi

Across town, Angel Cappa has managed something that no man has managed since the current president, Daniel Passarella, last managed the team. River have won three consecutive matches.

Those nine points don’t mean that River are out of trouble, because as things stand the millionaires are still primed to fight out the relegation playoff. But the three wins have calmed nerves, and while some are getting carried away talking about winning the title, the club should avoid the drop.

All the more remarkable about the weekend’s 3-2 win over Independiente was that none of River’s attacking players were above the age of 22. Diego Buonanotte was the veteran. 17-year-old Manuel Lanzini replaced the suspended Ariel Ortega confidently, while 19 year old Gabriel Funes Mori grabbed his second, and third goal of the season. Sure, the second one came of his shin and then onto his foot, plus he was offside, but nobody at River is complaining.

By the same token, nobody is kidding themselves. The relegation table is still ominously looming over them. River, much like against Huracán last week, didn’t play a convincing full 90 minutes against the Rojo – but they did manage to capitalise when they were in control, and became the Argentine side this season to score three goals in one game.

River did it in 16 minutes. Cappa still needs to get River performing for a full 90 minutes to start talking about winning the title, but if they need an extra motivation, a quick look down the table might help.

Results

Banfield 0-0 EstudiantesNewell’s 2-0 TigreQuilmes 1-1 LanúsVélez 2-0 ArgentinosGodoy Cruz 1-0 OlimpoRacing 1-2 San LorenzoGimnasia 0-0 ColónRiver 3-2 IndependienteArsenal 2-0 HuracánAll Boys 2-0 Boca

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