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Rematch: Boca to meet River in Copa Libertadores

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The best rivalry in all of South American soccer will be coming to the Copa Libertadores for the second-straight year.

After last year’s drama on and off the field in the Copa Libertadores final, River Plate’s aggregate win over Cerro Porteno of Paraguay ensured there would be another Superclasico, this time in the Copa Libertadores semifinals. River Plate tied Cerro Porteno, 1-1, on Thursday evening in Paraguay, advancing to the semifinals 3-1 on aggregate. Boca Juniors advanced to the semifinals with a 3-0 aggregate win over LDU Quito of Ecuador.

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It’s the first time both teams will be playing each other in an official match since last December’s Copa Libertadores final.

Last year’s Copa Libertadores final, which was being used by the Argentine football authorities to prove that they could host a future Copa America or World Cup, was a spectacular disaster, at least regarding security.

The first leg had to be delayed 24 hours due to torrential rain, and then ended up being a wild, 2-2 affair at Boca Juniors’ La Bombonera Stadium. The second leg was initially postponed one day, then two after Boca Juniors’ bus was attacked by River Plate fans on its way to the stadium, injuring some players and making the game a complete farce. Somehow a CONMEBOL doctor decided the players were good enough to play, even though one suffered temporary optical damage.

Eventually, CONMEBOL came to the conclusion that the game couldn’t be forfeited, but also couldn’t be played in Buenos Aires. A decision was made to move the game to Madrid, where security was in place, there were no issues, and the game finished with River Plate winning after extra time. Even prior to the final, CONMEBOL had announced that it was getting rid of the traditional two-legged finals in place of one in a neutral setting.

All of that is the backdrop to the next Superclasico this year. Suddenly, it’s yet another two-legged affair to take place in Buenos Aires, though perhaps Argentina’s security apparatus can take this opportunity to learn from last year’s mistakes. The first leg is scheduled for October 1 at River Plate’s Estadio Monumental, before returning to La Bombonera on October 22 for the second leg.

De Rossi scores debut goal but Boca Juniors upset in Copa Argentina

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Daniele De Rossi played his first match in colors other than Roma yellow and red, and while he bagged a goal on debut, he was powerless to prevent an embarrassing Copa Argentina loss as Boca Juniors was upset by second tier side Almagro on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Just before the half-hour mark, a corner delivery found the head of De Rossi and he had a signature moment in South America. His close-range effort proved Boca’s only meaningful contribution of the night, but it produced an enormous smile across the face of the bearded Italian before he was engulfed by teammates and appeared somewhat emotional.

Sadly for the Argentine giants, they looked poor overall, and once De Rossi exited the pitch in the 72nd minute, he could only watch from the sidelines as 33-year-old former Real Salt Lake winger Juan Manuel Martinez equalized in the 82nd minute, sending the match to penalties. Boca Juniors was abysmal in the penalty shootout, and while Carlos Tevez scored the first effort, they missed their next three and the Primera Nacional side advanced to the Round of 16.

The result is bad news for new manager Gustavo Alfaro who only took over in January and is tasked with defending the club’s Copa Libertadores title. The quarterfinals of this year’s competition is just around the corner, and the squad must pick itself up quickly in the absence of recently departed Dario Benedetto and Nahitan Nandez who both bolted for European clubs this transfer window.

Transfer Roundup: Benedetto, Cahill and more

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Outside of Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille might now have the best attacking trio in all of France.

Olympique Marseille on Monday announced the signing of Argentine striker Dario Benedetto on a four-year contract. The 29-year-old striker has had a long and storied career throughout the Americas. From his upbringing with small Argentine clubs like Arsenal di Sarandi, he made his first big move moving to Northern Mexico to play for Club Tijuana.

Benedetto was an instant sensation, scoring a hat-trick in his first game and eventually earning the interest of Mexican giant Club America. While Benedetto never truly lived up to his potential in Mexico City, he earned a move to Boca Juniors, where he won three Superliga titles and led Boca to the Copa Libertadores final against rivals River Plate.

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He also scored 21 goals in his first season, though his hard-as-nails mentality (which matches his tattoos) has earned him a fair share of injuries. That being said, playing up top in Marseille in-between former West Ham winger Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin could prove to result in double-digit goals for the Argentine. He’s also playing for Andre Villas-Boas, a coach with plenty of experience in England and abroad. It will be up to Villas-Boas to get the best out of Benedetto in Ligue 1 this year. Unfortunately for Benedetto, at least this year, he won’t be playing in Europe. Marseille’s fifth-place finish, coupled with Rennes and Strausbourg winning the cup competitions, meant Marseille missed out on even the Europa League.

Here are more transfer stories from around Europe and the Premier League:


Report: Cahill signs with Crystal Palace

For the first time since 2012, Gary Cahill has a new home. Luckily for Cahill, he didn’t have to move very far to find his new club.

According to the BBC, Cahill has signed a contract with Crystal Palace, after London neighbors Chelsea released Cahill at the end of the 2018-2019 season. The 33-year-old centerback was a standout starter for Chelsea until Maurizio Sarri arrived at Stamford Bridge. Cahill, older and unable to keep up with Sarri’s high-pressing style to play a high line defensively, only made two Premier League appearances and eight across all competitions for Chelsea last season.

With Crystal Palace, Cahill could potentially step into a starting role alongside either James Tompkins, Scott Dann, or Martin Kelly. Or, he could be available for a late-game insertion to hold onto a tight lead as Crystal Palace hunts to get over the 40-point mark yet again.

VIDEO: Daniele De Rossi greeted by raucous Boca fans upon arrival

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Boca Juniors has announced the signing of former Roma captain and 2006 World Cup winner Daniele De Rossi in a one-year deal.

The Argentinian club used social media Thursday to confirm the move with a video of 36-year-old Italian midfielder wearing the team’s shirt.

De Rossi had a medical at a private clinic in Buenos Aires and visited the club’s historic La Bombonera stadium.

The Italian played at Roma from 2001 to May of this year.

De Rossi was one of the scorers in the World Cup final penalty shootout against France that gave Italy its fourth World Cup title. He has also won two Italian Cups with Roma in 2007 and 2008.

De Rossi’s official presentation as a Boca player will be on Monday.

Reports: De Rossi heads to Argentina to sign for Boca Juniors

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According to reports in both Italy and Argentina, Roma legend Daniele de Rossi, who left the Italian club this summer at the age of 35, is heading to Argentina to finalize a deal to play for Boca Juniors.

The reports state that De Rossi will sign a one-year contract worth $560,000.

The Roma youth product has spent his entire career with the Serie A side, making 616 career appearances for Roma across all competitions and scoring 63 goals.

There was rumored interest from MLS in the 35-year-old, with NYCFC the most frequently named club, but it seems that interest never seriously took off. De Rossi also reportedly had an offer to coach in the Italian youth ranks and interest from fellow Italian clubs Bologna and Fiorentina.

At Boca, he will look to return the club to the top of the Argentine Primera Division where they stood two seasons ago before dropping to third last campaign.