The Superliga is heading for a sensational final weekend showdown – and River and Boca are yet to decide who is going to seize the title this year.
On Saturday night, River Plate had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Defensa y Justicia at the Monumental. Even though the Millo dropped two vital points, they still hold a one-point advantage over their arch-rivals Boca Juniors.
The Nuñez side are hoping to win their first title since 2014. Coach Marcelo Gallardo has lead the club through a trophy-laden period – though he has failed thus far to take the league title.
Juan Martín Lucero opened the scoring for Defe at the Monumental in the 23rd minute. The visitors' advantage lasted until the 64 minutes, when playmaker Juan Fernando Quintero equalised from the penalty spot. It was an unlucky break for Defensa y Justicia’s goalkeeper Ezequiel Unsain, who up until then had been the man of the match.
The draw keeps River at the top of the table on 46 points. Boca trails by just one point in an intense race for the championship that will be resolved next Saturday evening, when both teams kick off at 9pm.
The pressure will be on Boca next weekend, when they host Xeneize legend Diego Maradona and his Gimnasia y Esgrima side. Meanwhile, River will head north to play against Atlético Tucuman.
Marcelo Gallardo’s team will secure the title with a victory or draw if Boca loses to Gimnasia. The Xeneize will have to await the final whistle of River’s match, hoping their rivals slip up.
The only possibility, where Boca and River would end up level is if Boca draw with the Lobo and River lose in Tucuman.
River started off badly at home on Saturday, with the side looking like they were feeling the pressure. Defensa y Justicia constantly snapped at their heels, pressing them urgently.
The Millo seemed to feel the absence of their Colombian striker Rafael Borré, who is a real focal point. His replacement, Nacho Scocco, failed to impress.
Gallardo made a change, replacing Javier inola with Quintero to bring more depth into the attack. The Colombian became the difference maker, making the side tick and scoring the penalty that drew River level.
“Whoever thinks that we are in an unfavourable position is wrong. We continue to depend on ourselves. We have to think about Atletico de Tucuman. We are not going to play against Boca, when we played the finals against them, we won,” Gallardo said afterwards, dismissing talk that River had missed a golden chance to put the title in their grasp.