The Superclasico at El Monumental will decide much more than bragging rights as River Plate host Boca Juniors in the second leg of a tantalisingly poised Copa Libertadores final.
River twice came from behind at La Bombonera to draw 2-2, leaving an opportunity for a player to etch their name into the history of one of world football’s fiercest rivalries.
Some legendary names have pulled on the iconic jerseys of Boca and River, and here we look at six greats to have graced the fixture who Saturday’s hero could secure a place alongside by striking the decisive blow.
Juan Roman Riquelme
Riquelme became a legend at Boca with four Primera Division titles and three Libertadores triumphs won at either end of his career. In March 2014, in his final season with the club, he struck a sublime free-kick into the top corner to draw Boca level at 1-1 in the Superclasico. Ramiro Funes Mori had the final say with an 86th-minute winner for River, but Riquelme’s effort delivered a lasting reminder of his immense ability.
Maradona signed for Boca in 1981 at the age of 20, and less than two months later he lit up his first Superclasico in true Maradona style, scoring after a mazy dribble to help Boca to a 3-0 win that contributed to their league title triumph that season. He returned to Boca in 1995 and ended his professional career two years later, fittingly playing his final match in a 2-1 win over River in enemy territory.
Before he was a global star in Europe, Batistuta crossed the Superclasico divide to become a Boca hero. He returned to El Monumental as a 22-year-old in 1991 and torpedoed his former club’s hopes of qualifying for the last 16 of the Libertadores, scoring twice to write his name into the history of the derby.
— Boca Jrs. Oficial (@BocaJrsOficial) November 18, 2018
Alfredo Di Stefano
Though he is considered by many to be Real Madrid’s greatest player, Di Stefano first emerged as a phenomenal goalscorer with River in the 1940s.’The Blond Arrow’ took to coaching after devastating Spanish defences and it was in his second footballing life that he endeared himself to both sides of the Superclasico, delivering league titles to both River and Boca, whom he managed twice.
Such was his loyalty to River, Uruguayan midfielder Francescoli is thought to have said he could simply never play for Boca Juniors. Nicknamed ‘The Prince’ for his graceful style, Francescoli was a Superclasico regular across two trophy-laden spells in Argentina, and scored a memorable equaliser in a 1-1 Supercopa Sudamericana quarter-final draw at La Bombonera in October 1994.
Hoy cumple años un crack que, a pura clase y talento, se transformó en uno de los grandes ídolos de nuestra historia: el “Príncipe” Enzo Francescoli.
— River Plate (@CARPoficial) November 12, 2018
Far from prolific, River icon Roberto Perfumo saved one of his rare goals for a Superclasico visit to Boca in April 1976. The right-back, Argentina’s captain at the 1974 World Cup, fired in a free-kick from just outside the box to give the away side a 1-0 win. “I screamed like a kid,” Perfumo was later quoted as saying.
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