River Plate

Getty Images

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Montiel to Palace or West Ham, Coutinho to depart Barcelona

Leave a comment

River Plate is one of many clubs that could use this coming transfer window to earn a payday after taking losses in the coronavirus shutdown, and that could come at the benefit of one Premier League club.

West Ham is apparently one of a few teams after Argentine international Gonzalo Montiel who could fetch River Plate somewhere in the vicinity of $24 million. The right-back is a River Plate youth product who established himself as a regular for the club at just 20 years old and has spent the last three seasons earning significant minutes. Now 23, Montiel is a strong passer who can create for teammates with long-range deliveries.

Argentine publication Ole mentions that Spanish side Valencia has shown interest of late, but also states that West Ham made contact in January but was turned down by River Plate and the Hammers could be suitors again once the next window arrives. Montiel was also linked with Crystal Palace by Goal back in late March, while Argentine newspaper El Intransigente linked the player with Southampton. Palace and Saints both make sense as they are both looking to replace big-name departures of late, with Crystal Palace still yet to truly replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka while Southampton has not seen much from those brought in to take over for Cedric Soares.

Barcelona is reportedly ready to lower its asking price on Philippe Coutinho, with a bid of $86 million potentially workable for the Catalan club, according to a report by the Evening Standard.

Coutinho was extremely poor in his season-and-a-half at Barcelona, and while the Brazilian playmaker had upped his game on loan at Bayern Munich before the coronavirus shutdown, the purchase price on his loan deal is a whopping $130 million, which Bayern Munich is not willing to pay.

Barcelona is desperately in need of funds to support its summer business, with Lautaro Martinez and Neymar both heavily linked with the La Liga giants. It’s highly unlikely that both will be possible to acquire given both the team’s business of late and the coronavirus shutdown causing financial strain on clubs all over the world, and a significant sale may even be needed to get one of them over the line. Coutinho provides such a possibility, but with Barcelona not exactly in a position of strength given Coutinho’s lack of recent star power and the club’s need to sell, dropping the asking price is a highly likely eventuality.

The Evening Standard report mentions that Barcelona believes the Premier League is the “most likely possibility” for a Coutinho suitor given the league’s memories of his incredible spell at Liverpool just a few years ago.

Speaking of the Premier League, Manchester United was reportedly close to securing a marquee striker last summer before eventually sticking with Marcus Rashford up front. Speaking to Italian print publication Tuttosport on Wednesday, Romelu Lukaku’s agent Federico Pastorello said that the Belgian big man almost went to Juventus on a swap deal before Manchester United backed out of the transfer negotiations due to Dybala’s high wage demand. Eventually, Lukaku departed for Inter Milan where he settled in quickly and has contributed to a furious title challenge that just lost steam before the coronavirus shutdown.

Pastorello simply responded “It’s true” when asked if Dybala had been a focal point of Manchester United negotiations, but hedged his answer with, “Romelu, however, had always hoped to go to Inter because he was impressed by the affection of the Inter fans.”

Tevez goal gives Boca Juniors Argentine title on final day

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Boca Juniors leapfrogged rival Buenos Aires club River Plate on the final day of the season to win the Superliga Argentina, with Carlos Tevez providing the title-winning goal.

River Plate came into the day in first place on 46 points, with Boca Juniors a point back at 45. River Plate was wrestled to a 1-1 draw on the road at 14th placed Atletico Tucuman, held scoreless in the second half. That gave Boca a way through, and at home against 19th placed Gimnasia, Carlos Tevez scored the game’s only goal to see the hosts jump River Plate in the standings and win the title.

The goal was an absolute howitzer from the top of the box that Tevez smashed so hard that Gimnasia goalkeeper Jorge Broun got a hand to but still couldn’t keep out. The build-up play was quality as well, with Sebastian Villa shrugging off a physical challenge from a defender and substitute Ramon Abila sliding to deliver the parallel assist.

Boca had been in second since early December, dropping out of the top spot thanks to a three-match winless run. But they finished the season on a six-match winning streak, refusing to concede a single goal for the final five matches of the campaign – a 460-minute goalless streak to help secure the crown. River Plate bagged a five-match winning streak starting with the turn of the calendar year, but ended the season with a pair of 1-1 draws against Defensa and Tucuman.

The title is Boca’s 34th in club history and sees them return to the top slot after a year off, having finished third last season behind title-winners Racing and second-placed Defensa.

The Argentine top-flight features a single round-robin season with its 23-team league that carries through early March, with its Copa de la Superliga to follow and carry the campaign through the end of May. Boca finished second in last year’s Copa, falling to Tigres in the final.

Tevez was also on the field for Manchester City’s final-day title victory when they defeated QPR 3-2 in 2012 on Sergio Aguero’s incredibly late goal.

Flamengo Copa victory celebration in Rio ends in clashes

Getty Images
Leave a comment

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Celebrations of Flamengo’s victory in South America’s top soccer club competition came to an abrupt end in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, when clashes erupted between a group of supporters and police.

Tens of thousands of ecstatic soccer fans wearing their team’s black-and-red jerseys poured into the streets of the city’s historic center in the morning to welcome Flamengo players.

For hours, the flood of supporters, including many families and children, celebrated peacefully, waving flags and setting off fireworks as the Copa Libertadores winners rode through the streets in an open-topped bus.

But around 4.30 p.m. local time, in the final stretch of the festivities, TV images showed thick white smoke coming out of the parade, which quickly dispersed the nearby crowd.

Clashes followed, with a group of supporters throwing rocks, beer bottles and other objects at police. The disturbances later eased.

The team’s victory Saturday over Argentine side River Plate has lifted the spirits of Brazilians after a period of economic stagnation and political infighting.

That’s especially true in Rio, home of the country’s largest club. It hadn’t won the Copa in 38 years, while its Brazilian rivals had won five of the previous 10 competitions.

‘Gabigol’ scores two goals at the death to lift Flamengo over River in Copa Libertadores final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In the stretch of three minutes, Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa Almeida became an immortal Flamengo legend.

The 23-year-old forward scored twice in the dying minutes against River Plate in Lima, Peru, earning Flamengo their first Copa Libertadores title in 38 years, and their second ever in 124 years of existence.

Just three minutes prior to the historic goal, Gabigol – as effective as ever before for the Rubro-Negro – leveled the game following an emphatic recovery and counter-attack from the Brazilian side. With a strong, sliding tackle, Uruguayan midfielder Giorgian De Arrascaeta won the ball from an attack-minded River. With newfound possession, the 25-year-old paced forward, connecting a pass before receiving it back inside the box, where he would find the Inter Milan loanee for the leveling goal.

Back-to-back champions River Plate struck first on Saturday after Rafael Santos Borre struck Ignacio Fernandez’s cutback cross after 14 minutes into the first half. Despite seeing less of the ball throughout the 90 minutes, River’s dominance would remain intact for the remainder of the first half and throughout the early stages of the final 45 minutes.

As the clocked ticked and the second half started coming to a close, Marcelo Gallardo and Co. were pinned further and further back into their own half. Flamengo, powered by two, second half substitutions, pushed and eventually broke through the Argentine’s defense.

The Brazilian side are the new champions South America, and Gabigol – with the name living up to the expectations – will never be forgotten.

VIDEO: River edge past Boca to reach Copa Libertadores final

Leave a comment

Boca Juniors scored a late goal to beat bitter rivals River Plate 1-0 at La Bombonera on Tuesday, but River held on to reach the final of the Copa Libertadores with a 2-1 aggregate win.

Jan Hurtado scored the second-leg winner for Boca in the 80th minute to send the home fans wild, but it wasn’t enough as River somehow held on to reach their second-straight Copa Libertadores final.

Amid fireworks, copious amounts of ticker tape and an incredible atmosphere generated by Boca’s supporters at their home in Buenos Aires, to hold on for the aggregate victory was an amazing display of defensive strength from River Plate.

Boca battered River for large swathes of this game, with the home side squandering plenty of chances. Click play on the video below to watch the highlights as River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani was a busy man and came up with the goods.

Of course, the Copa Libertadores final between Boca and River last season was abandoned and then moved to Madrid, Spain over fan unrest as Boca Juniors bus was attacked.

River won the final 3-1 last season and they will face either Flamengo or Gremio in the final in Santiago, Chile on Nov. 23. This season will see the change in format to a one-off final to decide the Champions of CONMEBOL.

The Copa Libertadores winners will represent South America in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar in December.