South American Football - Struggling Boca boosted ahead of River clash

Boca Juniors appear to have recovered their fighting spirit just in time for the "superclasico" at home to arch enemies River Plate at La Bombonera on Sunday.

Reuters
South American Football - Struggling Boca boosted ahead of River clash
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Juan Manuel Martinez, Boca Juniors (Reuters)

A gutsy 1-0 home win over holders Corinthians in the Libertadores Cup on Wednesday has lifted the gloom at Boca after 10 league matches and three months without a victory.

River come to the Bombonera cauldron for the first time since a 2-0 defeat there in 2011 marked the start of their slide towards their first relegation.

The first clash between the sides since River's promotion was at the Monumental in October when Boca recovered from a two-goal deficit in the last 15 minutes for a 2-2 draw.

River have had a far better "Final" league championship than Boca, challenging for the title with six wins in 11 matches and unbeaten in their last five.

"We're happy with the way the team played. We did things properly," said midfielder Walter Erviti, who took Boca's playmaking duties against Corinthians in the absence of injured Juan Roman Riquelme.

"But the clasicos are different, let's hope we can win and not suffer as much (as at River)," added Erviti, who scored the last-gasp equaliser in October.

Boca fans thought their team would instantly become world beaters again when record title-winning coach Carlos Bianchi took the helm again this year nearly a decade after the end of his previous spell at the club.

Instead they have struggled, whereas Ramon Diazs return to River, where he too holds the record for most titles won, has had the opposite effect boosting a team that needed to shake off the trauma of relegation.

Unlike Boca, River only have domestic competition to focus on.

"They will be rested," Bianchi said. "They have one commitment per week."

Riquelme is unlikely to play on Sunday after Bianchi said he was thinking of using him instead for the return leg against Corinthians in Sao Paulo in 12 days time.

"Better if Roman doesn't play," said River's 20-year-old playmaker Manuel Lanzini, who spent last season on loan at Brazilian champions Fluminense.

"From a dead ball he can settle the match, he's a fantastic player... But we shouldn't worry about who's on the other side and do our own things well."

River are without former France striker David Trezeguet, who will not be available again until next season after knee surgery.

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