In another time, the match against Fortaleza for River would have been very different: 0-1 down from the locker room in Brazil, heat, humidity, a grass just as thick, 50,000 people against, a rival who plays nice and fast. A start that, for other River AG (before Gallardo ), would surely have triggered a landslide, possibly an expulsion, some brawl about the end, scandalous statements.
It has been seen many times. But for some time (almost eight years) to this part, River became the cupbearer team on this continent. In the smartest. The one who knows how to manage the times of the matches, the one who has an unalterable temper to cope with matches like yesterday’s in the bravest stops.
River had a bad time, but he knew how to have a bad time. He didn’t throw the game away, he didn’t lower his arms for that vertiginous start in the quicksand of Ceará: he never does. She never gives up . That’s why he took it forward, stood up, began to handle the ball and was even able to win. He could, of course, lose. And if he didn’t do it, it was largely because an important part of the butler combo that this team has is having Franco Armani in goal.
El Flaco is made for these Copa Libertadores nights : he may have, from time to time, mistakes like all his colleagues in goal. At Armani, the essential thing is to pay attention to when it fails and when it doesn’t. Giving a weak rebound with Atlético Tucumán or leaving with doubts against Banfield are details next to what the Casildense saves in the heaviest games.
And it is necessary: in the eternal Libertadores of 2018 he took out impossible balls in all the playoff crosses. And the legend continues: as happened in Santiago against Colo Colo, this Thursday night’s intensity and climate seemed like a quarterfinal match. And there was the one.
From Armani and his six premium saves, River held on at its worst moment, equalized, resisted, and began to gain confidence : in the second half the Vojvoda team logically lowered the intensity a bit (it is not easy to keep up with the the Argentine champion) and CARP was becoming more and more the owner of the game, even with certain residual difficulties in defense for counterattacks. And he was able to win it, River, in that second half: he spent all the goals in Junín, it seemed, because this time he failed to finish the plays.
The truth is that even so, even facing the most fucked-up saves, even when he did not have the same needs as his rival and had more than enough points, River will have to correct the defensive imbalances that -luckily- this time they made figure Armani. Because, already thinking about the round of 16, those kinds of mistakes are the ones that can leave you out, the ones that pay dearly.
The team at times was very long, with problems in the setback against a rival with fast transitions, with a lot of space behind the wings and with errors at the start, especially at the feet of a David Martínez who was far from having his best night, with serious problems with the ball and especially timing , including that foul on the edge of the area that touched the penalty.
In any case, they are difficult games to play and that harden River for what is to come, that make him stronger, with a tougher skin. That they give Strength to a team that continues to have the cupola aura that distinguished this entire disruptive cycle in history.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.