A champion of Argentina will be crowned Saturday night. It has all come down to two very familiar foes.
Boca can claim their third title in four years, or River could win their first league championship since 2014.
While several other things are still undecided including Libertadores and Sudamericana spots, the vast majority of Argentina will be interested this weekend in River and Boca. Which of these two clubs will get the latest bragging rights in the eternal battle for supremacy? While each has one specific point they will never stop mocking the other about (Boca has never been relegated and River has but River beat Boca in the Libertadores final), the chance to add another argument to their satchel of hatred is at stake.
Here is how the top of the table currently stands going into the final weekend of the Superliga:
If River wins, they will raise the trophy. If they lose or draw, Boca can steal it from them.
Boca will be hosting Gimnasia in La Bombonera and River will be traveling to the northwest to take on Atlético Tucumán. Both matches will be played simultaneously on Saturday at 21:00 in Argentina (you can figure out for yourself what time that is for wherever you may be living in the world).
On the surface, both look to be winnable matches, maybe even a slightly easier challenge for Boca. But if you peel these matches open just a bit, you’ll quickly see that there are layers upon layers of complexity.
For River, yes, they are traveling and yes, they are facing a club that historically plays very well at home – a club that just last year put up a fight in the title race. But this season has not been as friendly to El Decano. Atlético is currently on a streak of nine matches without a win – six draws and three defeats. Their last victory was back at the beginning of November 2019.
Ok, that’s good news for River, right? Maybe. When Los Millionarios take the pitch, one of the club’s greatest demons will be standing in the opposing technical area – Ricardo Zielinski. El Ruso was the manager of Belgrano when River suffered their aforementioned relegation in 2011. Boca fans will be hoping that Zielinski can once again pull off the devastating defeat of River.
Boca on the other hand is playing a team that is fighting to stay up in the top flight. But that club, Gimnasia, is a totally different side than the one who started the season with one point from their first eight matches. El Lobo has lost just one of their last eight matches and has pulled themselves up from guaranteed relegation and now has an actual chance to survive.
Like River, Boca also has a familiar face as the opposing manager, but in this case, not a hated rival but a beloved hero – the one and only Diego Armando Maradona.
It’s hard to say just how Maradona has been able to turn the fortunes of Gimnasia around. It could be that opposing players tighten up when they see him sitting upon his throne. Or maybe teams are losing on purpose out of respect. But more than likely, it is probably that Maradona has found a way to reach his players and inspire them to perform at a level they previously couldn’t reach.
The return of Maradona to La Bombonera will be a party. It will be an emotional moment for the fans. The question is if the side show will distract or motivate the Boca players.
On paper, most indicators would lead to the prediction that both River and Boca should win, which means River would become champions of Argentina. It may very well play out that way, but it may not. Whatever happens, come Saturday night, we should have a champion… unless we don’t.
If River lose and Boca only manage a draw, the two rivals will be tied with 46 points and we will be treated to a one match final. Yeah, that sounds good, I’ll have that. An absolute dream scenario for a neutral fan, but possibly a bigger dose of anxiety than Gallinas and Bosteros around the world would like.