Testing bench. For RiverPlatense’s visit to the Monumental after more than 23 years officially had no relevance in the standings, but it was a good measure to test individual levels and give filming to footballers who usually do not add minutes. Faced with a demanding calendar, it was the last gap that Marcelo Gallardo had to regulate physical loads for the end of the semester and, unlike the last presentation of the alternative team with defeat with Talleres in Córdoba, last night there was another face: defeated Platense 2-1 with goals from José Paradela and Julián Álvarez -after a disputed and controversial penalty-, the team left with much applause, had several high points that could be shown and there was a positive collective climate to face the definitions.
After a series of four consecutive games with the starting team, which also included trips to Santiago de Chile, Junín and Fortaleza, the Doll ordered eleven changes. Logical: his team had already secured second place in Zone 1 of the League Cup, he knew his rival (Tigre) and it was the right time to give the usual headlines a rest before the end of the semester. Thus, in addition to making goalkeeper Ezequiel Centurión debut at the club -at age 24-, he also returned to the well-known line of three defenders that he had not used since August 2021 in the 3-0 loss with Atlético Mineiro in Brazil for the quarterfinals final of last Libertadores: he arranged a 3-3-3-1 with Emanuel Mammana, Leandro González Pirez and Javier Pinola as central defenders and Santiago Simón and Elías Gómez as lane players.
The start of the game was frenetic with a River that from the first minute began to dominate Platense and at 10 ‘opened the scoring with a good collective play that got dirty in the area and ended with a very strong right hand from José Paradela. But, when the game seemed to be heading in his favor, an unusual defensive lack of coordination in an exit from the baseline with a bad back pass by González Pirez that confused goalkeeper Centurión and Mammana and that led to Brian Mansilla’s 1-1 just three minutes later.
The best of the meeting
The action of the tie was a faithful reflection of the two facets of River last night: a lucid team to build defensive actions and a messy and imprecise team to back up and out from the bottom. Perhaps, the decoupling can be logical in an improvised alignment, without continuity and with a different scheme. But at the same time, there were many avoidable individual errors. In this context, the Squid hurt more for those marked deficits than for their own virtues in a discreet game in Núñez.
Despite that, the clearest actions of the match were the Millionaire. In a span of 15 minutes, he had three specific chances to convert with shots from his midfielders: Ferreira and Paradela tried from the medialuna and Palavecino inside the area, but they all met with answers from goalkeeper Jorge De Olivera. The use of the medium distance shot was one of the most interesting weapons that the millionaire team had.
For Gallardo, outside the final result, the meeting served to evaluate footballers. And this time there were points to rescue: Paradela and Palavecino played a good game and Ferreira showed interesting sparks and good handling of the dead ball. Meanwhile, from midfield to the back, except for some interesting projection by Gómez, it was a night with few lights. For this reason, the DT decided to kick the board for the second half: he changed the scheme to a 4-2-3-1 with Mammana on the side, Simón at the wheel and Palavecino closer to Zuculini. And River was better ordered.
More concentrated and connected, in the second half he no longer suffered as many problems in the background and maintained his offensive vocation, but it was difficult for him to find the paths in a very flat game and he lacked precision in the final stitch and aim in the area, to the point such that Paradela missed an incredible goal under the arc after a shot from Mammana. }
For the final stretch of the game, the DT ordered the income of Tomás Pochettino, Esequiel Barco and Julián Álvarez, got more depth and unlocked the game with a controversial action: the referee Patricio Loustau sanctioned a penalty for Ignacio Schor’s foul on Elías Gómez, although there seemed to be no direct contact on the millionaire side. Álvarez changed it for a goal and River clung to victory until the final whistle.
El Millonario closed his participation in Zone A with a win at home and, from now on, the calendar will no longer have any possible rest: on Wednesday he will have to play Tigre for the quarterfinals. With confidence on the rise, there is no longer any possible brake. And Sunday night was an important emotional boost to face what is coming with determination.