The farcical Torneo de Verano or summer friendlies played out the first superclásico of the year and following the contemptible ‘pepper-spray’ incident during the 2015 Libertadores meeting, Boca Juniors and River Plate ensured that Argentina’s most famous derby made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Despite both sides fielding starting elevens that resemble something close to full strength and giving their new signings a run out, the latest superclásico provided neither manager with anything constructive.
Jonathan Silva’s Boca career got off to an awful start after seeing red in less than ten minutes for a challenge on Gabriel Mercado and it proved to be the beginning of a match littered with ill-discipline and aggression from both sides.
Boca felt even more hard done by shortly after Silva’s ejection when Carlos Tevez conceded a penalty for a careless handball. Leonardo Pisculichi rolled the ball in from the spot and lamentably there was little else, in terms of play, to focus on.
Well before full-time Boca were reduced to eight when Gino Peruzzi and Daniel Díaz were also given their marching orders but it was the sending off of River’s Jonathan Maidana that sparked the mass brawl which made news worldwide. The defender headbutted Tevez before pushing Andrés Chávez to the ground and prompted players and staff from both sides to rush onto the pitch. In the melee, Leonardo Pisculichi, who had already been subbed off, was shown a red for his involvement to give Boca a 3-2 lead in terms of expulsions.
Tevez told reporters afterwards, “In four days, five sent off, in two matches, we must grow [up],” referring also to their defeat to Racing earlier which witnessed a further two red cards. Boca’s returning hero was of course speaking about his sides discipline if they are to continue their success of 2015 but there is a wider lesson to be learned by everyone involved.