Buenos Aires Times

sports COPA LIBERTADORES FINAL

'Weird' Libertadores final in Madrid no handicap for River, says Tevez

Boca Juniors and River Plate trained in Madrid for the first time on Thursday ahead of the arch rivals' postponed Libertadores Cup decider at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Thursday 6 December, 2018
Boca Juniors' Carlos Tevez talks to the press at the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) headquarters in Las Rozas, northwest of Madrid.
Boca Juniors' Carlos Tevez talks to the press at the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) headquarters in Las Rozas, northwest of Madrid. Foto:GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

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Boca Juniors forward Carlos Tevez concedes that playing a Libertadores Cup final in Madrid will be "weird," but he rejects all suggestions River Plate have been put at a disadvantage. 

The second leg was moved to Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu after the original fixture at River's El Monumental was postponed last month, following an attack by their fans on Boca's team bus. 

South America's football federation, CONMEBOL, ruled River should lose the chance to play at home, with the game moved abroad amid fears over further fan violence.

"It is a weird final," Tevez said Thursday after Boca had trained for the first time at Las Rozas, the base of the Spanish national team. "To play a match between Boca and River in Madrid, it's weird. But as a player, it is important to stay focused on the match." 

Argentina's two greatest football rivals competing for South America's most prestigious club prize out of the country, and in Spain, has proven controversial, with both clubs expressing their disapproval. 

Boca believe the chaos caused by River's fans means they should be awarded the trophy while River have protested against the loss of home advantage enjoyed by their opponents in the first leg, which finished 2-2. 

Both sets of supporters have been allowed an equal allocation of 25,000 tickets for the match in Madrid, despite away fans being banned at Boca's La Bombonera, as they would have been at the Monumental. 

Asked if River's chances had been damaged, Tevez said: "I don't think so. River have a lot more pressure playing at home and now it is 50-50. To play at home, sometimes it goes against you in a Libertadores final." 

Security remains high on the agenda after River's fans smashed the windows of Boca's bus and left some of their players injured. 

Spanish private news agency Europa Press reported Mazi Mazzaro was turned away at Madrid airport late Wednesday. The agency cited on Thursday unidentified police sources who described Mazzaro as dangerous, without elaborating.

"He is one of the most important and dangerous Boca ultras," a spokesman for the Spanish police told AFP. 

Tevez also called for calm around the match.

"I think people are smart," he said. "They know they can't mess around here so the truth is everything should happen peacefully, as it should do. 

"I think it's important for everyone involved to know that while it is a final, of course, it is a football match. We feel good because we're here and we thank the Spanish people for welcoming us." 

The two sides trained in Madrid for the first time on Thursday, as temperatures began rising ahead of the crunch showdown. 

After arriving on Wednesday, Boca's players looked in good spirits during a light session at Las Rozas.

River had earlier flown in to Madrid's Barajas Airport and took part in a session of their own on Thursday evening at Real's Valdebebas training centre.

At both sessions, more than 150 journalists were in attendance while a small number of fans were also seen waiting outside.   

- TIMES/AFP

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