River Plate will be tough opponents in the first ever Superclasico Copa Libertadores final, according to Boca Juniors assistant coach Gustavo Barros Schelotto.
Boca booked their place in the two-legged final by triumphing 4-2 on aggregate against Brazilian side Palmeiras on Wednesday, a 2-2 draw in Sao Paulo enough to follow up a 2-0 home victory in the opening leg.
River’s place in the decider remains subject to an appeal from Gremio after last season’s champions were beaten in their controversial last-four clash, but Schelotto is looking forward to taking on his team’s fierce rivals in Boca’s 11th Libertadores final.
“Gremio, Palmeiras and Cruzeiro in the previous round proved to be great teams, at the level of the Copa Libertadores and the differences between one and the other were minimum,” Schelotto, deputising for his suspended brother Guillermo, told a news conference.
“That’s why we spoke in the dressing room and we highlighted having beaten Cruzeiro, who won the Copa do Brasil, and beating Palmeiras who are top of the Brasileirao, far away from the second spot. It’s very important and we value it very much knowing what’s next for us.
“We know they [River] will be as difficult, as would any team that reaches the Copa Libertadores final. We will think about the way to win it, no matter what happens outside the field, that can’t distract us from what we must do to win this final.”
— CONMEBOL.com (@CONMEBOL) November 1, 2018
Ramon Abila put Boca in control with the opening goal and the striker is confident his side deserved a place in the final, against 2015 winners River, at the expense of Palmeiras.
“I think we were better in both games,” he said. “We handled both games very well, we were serious when we had to play, we showed character to defend and to attack so I think the end result of the 90 minutes is fair and we are really happy.
“History requests that Boca is always at the front in Argentina and in the world and we try to give that back. I’m happy for the goal, for the qualification and we hope everything ends well.”
11 – #Boca will play their 11th Copa #Libertadores final, more than any other side in history (10, Peñarol); they have won the title six times so far (1977, 1978, 2000, 2001, 2003 y 2007). Mystic. https://t.co/bemYSLWsoe
— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) November 1, 2018
Palmeiras coach Luiz Felipe Scolari backed Boca to triumph over River but rejected the notion that two Argentinian sides reaching the final showed the country is moving ahead of Brazil.
“If I had to choose a favourite to be Libertadores champion, I would say that Boca are a very experienced team that knew how to manage the game and stop the game,” Scolari said.
“The Argentines will play this year’s final because they were better than us, the Brazilians, in these two games, but there is no such thing as a possible superiority of Argentine soccer over the Brazilians.”
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