Until Ramón Ábila qualified Cristian Pavón at 16.01 on a leaden and windy Sunday, it was not clear if the Boca-River that will define the Copa Libertadores 2018 really or an Argentine fiction. The uneven and interminable previous gave way to a 2-2 draw that sounds like a war amnesty so that everything is resolved next Saturday, November 24 at the Monumental
Until the referee ordered to start there were Japanese fans who had traveled to Buenos Aires and had to return by the suspension of the previous day, Argentine Orthodox Jews who flew to Spain to see the first final at dawn on Sunday without betraying the Sabbat, the failed intervention of the president Mauricio Macri to allow visiting fans and the universal flood that postponed the final for 24 hours They suggested that the party belonged to the literary genre.
All that was a foretaste of all the emotions that would come in the Bombonera. Still in Argentine mode, with the limitations of a football full of rivets and with stopped ball goals of more than 40 meters that are shouted as if they were those of Maradona to England, the dramatic load of the match It was at the height of everything that had been cultivated in the previous. River and Boca shined, not because of their soccer, but because of their waste of energy and an uncertain outcome until the end.
It was also a capricious ending. That Boca has gone ahead at halftime was only explained in the cravings of football, which can be the most just and most unjust at the same time. Ábila drilled Franco Armani on the first arrival of his team, at 32 minutes of the first half, and Darío Benedetto on the second, at 45. With the firepower of their forwards, Boca, a team based on their individualities, he had dismantled in a snap of his fingers the merits that River, much more collective, had accumulated during the first chapter.
But if Boca is goal, River is construction and personality. In a context in which the ball looked like a shackle and the players of the two teams missed passes of centimeters, the visitor played great lapses of the game as if it were the local, or as if he had never left La Boca, his original neighborhood until in 1923 the city moved north. River seemed more loose and had a Gonzalo Martinez, always featured in the classics, as a stiletto for the tips. If it were not for the questioned goalkeeper of Boca, Agustín Rossi, avoided no less than three times the goal in the first half, and because Lucas Martínez Quarta missed a header by centimeters, the Bombonera would have collapsed.
But win or lose the final, the legacy of the River de Gallardo, absent by penalty, is that his team took handsome patent in international tournaments, his historic Achilles heel. If River began to say hen for having lost a Copa Libertadores final that had won against Peñarol in 1966 – although that nickname over time became a source of pride for fans, since Gallardo took over in 2014 made River in a team with an imperial personality. Thus, the first goal of Ábila was followed, the next minute, the first partial draw, Lucas Pratto. And when Boca for the only time in the afternoon seemed to have control and threatened with the 3-1, Carlos Izquierdoz's draw came at home, after a cross from Martinez.
In the paradoxes of football, it is possible that River has been better in the draw, although he has played better: he reversed the disadvantage twice and will define at home (and his goalkeeper, Armani, made the cut of the tournament on the last play, against Benedetto). What is missing are two weeks that will look like two years. If you can not talk a lot about football without falling into stupidity, from now until Saturday, the collective neurosis will increase. But if another great match comes like this Sunday, it will be worth it.