The two faces of the River by Demichelis

If something became clear a while ago, it is that the current Professional League championship will not have the heart-stopping definition it had last year. If in 2022, the title was defined in the last ball with that penalty that Franco Armani saved from Jonathan Galván and that moved the crown from the Cilindro de Avellaneda to the Boquense Bombonera, in 2023 the pleasing name of the champion has been known for at least two months: River will be the team that will take the Olympic tour. The only thing that remains to be clarified is when it will. According to the cumulative advantage of nine points that leads to Talleres de Córdoba and San Lorenzo, based on the results of the two dates that will be played this week, the team led by Martín Demichelis could consecrate itself next Saturday against San Lorenzo at the Nuevo Gasómetro or on the weekend of July 14 or 15 when it receives Estudiantes at the revamped Monumental stadium. With three or four dates in advance. Without any mystery.

The wide numerical difference reflects the enormous superiority that River has displayed over its rivals: Talleres and San Lorenzo, the closest pursuers, could never overshadow him and always saw him shoot from afar. And the campaign of the other greats has been discouraging: they took 19 points from Boca, Racing 20 and Independiente 26. Beyond their ups and downs and based on the quality of their game and their players, the breadth of their squad and the variants that Demichelis gives, River is plenty for the local environment. They may lose as they lost to Belgrano, Arsenal, Talleres and Barracas Central. But you will win much more often.

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The theme is the Copa Libertadores. Since August, when the round of 16 begins to be played, which will be drawn this Wednesday in Asunción del Paraguay, River will aim at him with all its power. And that is where things are not so clear. As if it had two faces, one to play at home and the other to play on the pitches of South America, in the group stage of the Libertadores, the team showed a different physiognomy and another attitude. He was much more vulnerable (he lost 3-1 to The Strongest at the height of La Paz and Fluminense swept him 5-1 at the Maracaná in Rio de Janeiro), he was seen as more anxious and under pressure, less reliable in defense, he had less relief individual and even certain moves by the coach were at least debatable. There is nothing wrong with the fact that River has classified second in its group. The question was that he did it with just ten points and was one of the three that added the least in that condition (only Atlético Nacional de Medellín and Deportivo Pereira from Colombia were below)

To return to being champion of America as it was in 1986, 1996, 2015 and 2018, River needs to change its face. And in the Cup, he should play with the same authority and confidence with which he walks through the championship. If he does, he’ll be a great candidate, at least to reach the final in Rio. If he does not do so, after the imminent housewarmings, a great continental disappointment could ensue.

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