River, in cupbearer mode: he beat Colo Colo in a classic Libertadores duel and caresses the classification

Insistence. River wins by insistence. Giving up your search is not an option. The offensive vocation and the collective commitment to face a very tough match allowed him to win a hard-fought victory against Colo-Colo by 2-1 with goals from Matías Suárez and Esequiel Barco. The goal that opened the game 36 minutes into the second half was a true reflection of his idea: seven footballers in attack position, Paulo Díaz as point guard and Andrés Herrera as a winger for the overflow and definition of Suárez, with the complicity of the goalkeeper. That football vision, enhanced with the competitive mentality of a team that always gets a plus in the Libertadores Cupended up allowing him to celebrate his third win in a row to be the sole leader of Group F with nine units and direct their classification to the round of 16.

The game was 100 percent Libertadores. More butler is not achieved. A very short game, with a lot of friction, intensity, the ball constantly moving and a strong leg to the max: they committed 36 violations with the passivity of the referee Alexis Herrera. In this context, River did not feel comfortable and the inaccuracy with the ball was notorious. Without his usual connections in midfield, it was very difficult for him to take advantage of the possession of the ball and the spaces that he found due to the intention of an opponent who constantly advanced his lines to look for Franco Armani’s goal.

Fight for the ball: Falcón and César Fuentes beat Julián Álvarez high Esteban Felix – AP

Both had their scoring chances due to the dynamics and the frenzy that the match had with two teams that always had the rival bow between eyebrows. And the 0-0 in the first half was explained in the areas: Armani responded every time the Chileans attacked, and Paulo Díaz was the high point of a defense that once again showed insecurities and suffered with the talent and imbalance of Argentine striker Pablo Solari; while Esequiel Barco was very active to distance himself and get rid of rivals with his dribbling, but he was not very fine when it came to resolving the three situations in front of the goal that he had. Wholesale revolutions.

The thing is River played with too much vertigo in attack and did not take advantage of those gaps to move the ball with one more pause to decide better. With the return of Barco, after leaving behind a hamstring in his right leg that had kept him out of the last four games, Gallardo once again opted for the 4-1-4-1 scheme from the beginning of the semester. But he did not have too many positive responses: Julián Álvarez was very far from the movements of the ball, both Santiago Simón and Barco could not exploit the bands with fluidity and Enzo Fernández could not establish himself as the owner of the ball.

The angry gesture of Marcelo Gallardo;  River got back on track in time and settled as the only leader in the Cup
The angry gesture of Marcelo Gallardo; River got back on track in time and settled as the only leader in the CupMARTIN BERNETTI – AFP

For this reason, before 10 minutes into the second half, the Muñeco ordered the entry of Matías Suárez instead of Simón to add a companion to Álvarez and look for another alternative to renew the air of an attack that seemed to fade. And the team began to change its face, beyond that the central deficit of the Millionaire was in the surprisingly low percentage of effectiveness in the passes (74%), boosted by the abuse of direct play.

Maximiliano Falcón over there, Álvarez over here, and the ball far away
Maximiliano Falcón over there, Álvarez over here, and the ball far awayMARTIN BERNETTI – AFP

In part, this inaccuracy was due to the attitude of Colo-Colo, who always sought to press and squeeze to cut off River’s internal paths, recover the ball in midfield and go out at speed with quick attacks and space behind central defenders and the millionaire sides. In a context without many lights, Nicolás De La Cruz stood out, a footballer butler who always measures up in the harshest matches. From junior to senior, he became more and more preponderant in the match with his competitive mentality and stood out with his display, his recoveries and his intelligence to move in a hectic match. Thus, he strengthened his teammates and in the final stages of the game the best flashes of River were seen. Barco’s goal in closing and Juan Lucero’s subsequent discount, with a header, were the perfect finishing touch for a match as vibrant as it was demanding.

There was plenty of strong leg in the duel between Colo Colo and River;  here, a rough cross between Enzo Pérez and Leonardo Gil
There was plenty of strong leg in the duel between Colo Colo and River; here, a rough cross between Enzo Pérez and Leonardo Gil MARTIN BERNETTI – AFP

River leaves with a smile from Chile. Although he could not display the best of his football, he returned to victory after two weak performances against Talleres and Atlético Tucumán and showed that he has attitude, experience and guarantees for cup duels. And now, after remaining as the only leader in Group F, the calendar does not allow him to focus on his cup-bearing destiny: on Saturday he will look for three points in Junín against Sarmiento to head towards the League Cup quarterfinals. And it will be another crucial stop to continue rediscovering his game. Of course: the idea and the attitude are not negotiated. Never.