The Copa Libertadores continues to be, like every year, the great objective of River. But the Professional League Cup it also appears among the “millionaire” priorities. And with that approach, Marcelo Gallardo’s team will receive Tigre this Wednesday from 9:30 p.m. in a once again packed Monumental stadium and with ESPN television. A priori, River appears as a great candidate to advance to the semifinals. But no game was won on the eve.
Beyond the logical rotations, up to here River has faced the double competition in a very good way: It is virtually qualified for the round of 16 of the Copa Libertadores and had a very good campaign in the local tournament in which it finished one point behind Racing, the first in zone 1. In the last match played by the starters for the League Cup, thrashed Sarmiento 7-0 in Junín and pointing to the match with Tigre, after drawing 1-1 with Fortaleza in Brazil for the Libertadores, Gallardo put an alternative formation against Platense and won again 2-1.
With the best he has back on the field and with a wide bench rich in variants, the Millionaire presumes that he can give another great soccer performance by aiming for the semifinal next weekend with the winner of Estudiantes-Argentinos. Santiago Simón or Tomás Pochettino as a midfielder on the right is the only doubt that Gallardo has who hopes to add Colombian Juan Fernando Quintero to his next call-up, who still hasn’t recovered from a left hamstring tear he suffered before the game with Talleres in Córdoba.
Tigre is in no way assumed to be a stone guest at the River Plate party. But he doesn’t come at his best either. Although he qualified third in zone 2 with 20 points, he won only one of his last six games and added just 3 of the last 18 points he played. It is no small thing to have reached the quarterfinals coming straight from promotion. But Tigre could not sustain in closing, the performance he had in the first part of the tournament. As much as his coach, Diego Martínez, always tried to bet on good handling of the ball and a preferably offensive mentality.
Not even his best players could sustain him: right-back Blondel, midfielder Ezequiel Fernández (who would return to Boca in the second half) and striker Pablo Magnín. Tigre’s last away win dates back to the fifth date (1-0 with Aldosivi in Mar del Plata). Achieving it again at the Monumental and against such an established River would have the air of a true feat for the Victoria team. Dreaming costs nothing. And this is football.