BUENOS AIRES: The iconic Bombonera plays host on Saturday to the ‘mother of all finals’ of the Copa Libertadores, the elite South American club competition — because it matches hosts Boca Juniors against their greatest derby rivals, River Plate.
Since its first official staging in 1913, the Argentinian Superclásico has decided a final only twice. The first time was in 1976 when Boca won 1-0 to secure the National Championship and the second in 2018 when River triumphed 2-0 to lift the domestic Supercopa.
In the Copa Libertadores, they have met previously in the group stages, in the last 16, in the quarter-finals and the semis. The second leg of this Libertadores showdown will be staged in the Estadio Monumental – which hosted the 1978 World Cup Final – on November 24.
Between them the two clubs have won the Libertadores nine times in its 58 years. Boca boast six triumphs and River three. Boca are also about to become the club with the most appearances in the final with 11. River are fifth on that list with what will be their sixth decider.
In the current edition, Boca have won five of their six home games, all without conceding. Their solitary reverse was to Palmeiras in the group phase. By comparison, River’s home record is three wins, two draws and one defeat – in the semi-final against Gremio.
Ten players risk suspension from the second leg if cautioned in the first match: Boca’s Pablo Perez, Nahitan Nandez, Cristian Pavon and Lucas Olaza as well as River’s Jonatan Maidana, Javier Pinola, Enzo Perez, Gonzalo Martinez, Rafael Santos Borre and Lucas Pratto.