Boca Juniors and River Plate go head-to-head on Tuesday night in a make-or-break second-leg Superclásico that will decide who represents Argentina in this year's Copa Libertadores final.
The Xeneize are trailing 2-0 after the first leg at the Monumental, but will be hoping to put on a good show before the more than 50,000 people crammed into their legendary La Bombonera stadium. Goals from Rafael Santos Borré, from the penalty spot, and Ignacio 'Nacho' Fernández put the Núñez side in front.
It will be a tough match for side in the famous blue-and-gold shirts. The side will need to take an aggressive, attacking approach if they are to turn around the tie, while guarding against a fine River side. Underlining the threat, away goals count double if the tie in level after 180 minutes.
The winners of the high-profile Superclásico will face a Brazilian side – either Flamengo or Internacional – in Santiago de Chile on November 23 in a one-off match. The second semi-final, finely poised at 1-1, takes place on Wednesday night.CONMEBOL said this week the final will be held in Chile, despite the protests and violent social conflict that's raging in the country.
For Boca, the memories of last year's loss to River in the Copa Libertadores final, which was moved outside Latin America for the first time, to Madrid and the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, after violence and crowd at the Monumental stadium, will weight heavy.
The Millo proved their quality in last year's competition, when they saw off their archi-rivals 3-1 in Madrid, with Quintero netting toward the end.
Boca lost out in the 'Game of the Century' – they will be hoping for a comeback of epic proportions on Tuesday night.
River the favourites
Despite being the away side, most expect River to progress on Tuesday night. Not only do they have one of their best squads in years, they have a two-goal advantage from last night out.
Even Diego Maradona — one of Boca's most famous fan — has said "it is not possible" for his team to advance.
River also have the best coach, in Marcelo 'Muñeco' Gallardo. He has won seven international titles since assuming his post in 2014, including two Copa Libertadores.
Gallardo confirmed his team earlier this week, saying he would field the same team as he did in the first leg.
"We will try to score a goal," he said Monday at a press conference.
Juan Fernando Quintero stood out as River Plate drew 3-3 against Arsenal de Sarandí on Friday, with the Millo coming back from two goals down to grab a draw.
The Colombian international is looking to regain his best form after returning from a cruciate ligament injury and a seven-month absence.
Quintero entered in the 63rd minute replacing Nahuel Gallardo, the son of coach Marcelo Gallardo, and his arrival instantly made River's attack more dynamic. The midfielder was involved in the last goal and hit the post with a trademark free kick.
"On the other side [the rival] is scared by how River plays," said Leo Ponzio, his captain, who will also return after inury.
In contrast to his River rival on the bench, Boca coach Gustavo Alfaro is known for his conservative approach. He will have to adopt a different one this time around if the tie is to be turned around.
Alfaro is playing his cards close to chest for now. It is not known if he will field Mauro Zárate or veteran Carlos Tevez upfront. Other options up top include the Venezuelan Jan Hurtado or the big man Ramón 'Wanchope' Ábila.
"We have faith that we can turn it around," said Zarate, the former Lazio and West Ham United star.
Alfaro says he isn't paying attention to statistics or nay-sayers.
"Don't think we are dead," Alfaro said. "Tuesday's match will be the most important of my life, that is how I am living it and how I will face it."
Goalkeeper Esteban Andrada, whose saves avoided a worse result in the Monumental, has warned, however, that Boca must keep it tight at the back.
"Before River we can not go crazy. Receiving a goal would practically say goodbye to everything. We must not despair."
Tensions are running high in Buenos Aires, with the authorities concerned that Boca's fans may seek "revenge" after the trouble prior to last year's Libertadores clash.
Buenos Aires City government Security Secretary Marcelo D'Alessandro warned fans this week to remain calm and said they had tracked threats online from Boca fans suggesting they might try and start trouble if their team is losing.
D'Alessandro said they had seen traffic on social networks indicated Boca fans may being "carrying out violent acts if the results are adverse."
He also said the authorities would fully protect River's players and the arrival of their team bus, with more than 1,500 extra security officers set to be deployed.
"There are three or four alternatives for entry and exit [of the team bus]," he said, saying the City would work to "generate the necessary public order so that a massive event of these
characteristics can be developed in peace."
The referee on Tuesday will be Brazilian Wilton Sampaio, seconded by Fabricio Vilarinho and Rodrigo Correa.
The match kicks off at 9.30pm local time.
Boca (likely): Esteban Andrada - Julio Buffarini, Lisandro López, Carlos Izquierdoz, Emmanuel Mas - Eduardo Salvio, Iván Marcone, Agustín Almendra, Alexis Mac Allister - Mauro Zárate or Carlos Tevez, Jan Hurtado or Ramón Abila. Coach: Gustavo Alfaro.
River (confirmed): Franco Armani - Gonzalo Montiel, Lucas Martínez Quarta, Javier Pinola, Milton Casco - Nicolás de la Cruz, Enzo Pérez, Exequiel Palacios, Ignacio Fernández - Matías Suárez, Rafael Santos Borré. Coach: Marcelo Gallardo.