BUENOS AIRES - Martin Palermo's Boca Juniors and their bitter enemies River Plate are braced for a piquant 'Superclasico' at the Bombonera on Sunday.
With violence in Argentine football always close to the surface and after Velez Sarsfield's Fortin stadium was closed this week because fans fired flares at their match on Monday, there will be 1,200 police officers on duty.
Boca's all-time record scorer Palermo is determined to bow out in style in his last Superclasico before retiring amid requests from fans to play on. One fan gave him a home made banner on Wednesday saying: "You came out of a fairytale to go into history."
"I hope I can give them a goal," Palermo, who went 10 games without scoring from the beginning of the championship but is now on a run of three goals in as many games, told reporters.
The atmosphere at the Superclasico amid constant chanting, drum beating and smoke bombs, is unrivalled, especially at Boca's tight Bombonera ground.
Sunday's game has the added zest of a Boca win possibly tipping River into the promotion playoff berths despite their joint third place in the Clausura table. River have a poor three-season points average in the relegation standings.
In River's favour, Palermo will come up against one of the toughest defences in the championship.
River, who have conceded eight goals in 13 matches and are unbeaten away, have been built to defend and counter-attack in a break with tradition many of their fans are unhappy about but understand with top flight survival a priority.
Former Boca defender Jonatan Maidana should be fit to play after nursing his left knee and ankle all week having twisted them in last weekend's 2-0 home defeat by All Boys.
Maidana, who scored the last goal in a Superclasico when River beat Boca 1-0 at home in the Apertura championship in the first half of the season, said: "It would be lovely to score another goal."
Uruguayan left-back Juan Manuel Diaz is also back from suspension so River are at full strength all round with midfielder Walter Acevedo also returning from injury.
River will also be wary of Juan Roman Riquelme, still the stand-out player in the Argentine league along with Estudiantes captain Juan Sebastian Veron.
Danger-man Riquelme has helped steady Boca, top scoring with four goals, three with free-kicks, after their poor start to the championship. They are 10th, unbeaten in four matches, four points below River and nine behind leaders Velez Sarsfield.
However, River's Argentina international goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo has been a key factor in their measly rearguard and Riquelme said: "It's not going to be easy to score a goal against Carrizo."comments