The aura of Marcelo Gallardo's River did not go away. It is still latent. The image of the Doll was eternalized meters from the Monumental, with its bronze statue. And on the field, Martín Demichelis' team, with its own imprint, offered a similar version in a hot Copa Libertadores match and in a borderline situation. His River played against Fluminense in cup mode and won a key match, which can give him the necessary boost to strengthen in the maximum continental tournament.
As happened to Gallardo in his first Copa Libertadores, in 2015, Demichelis was also caught between a rock and a hard place in the fifth match of the group stage. Eight years ago, El Muñeco emerged unscathed from that situation after his team reversed a 0-2 against Tigres in Mexico and ended up equalizing 2-2 with two goals at the end of the match and a 3-0 victory in the final chapter to San José de Oruro in the Monumental. Of course, he also needed the victory of Tigres to Juan Aurich of Peru on the last day.
Unlike that time, the 2-0 win over Fluminense already paved River's way to qualifying for the knockout stages a day earlier. For this, there was another result that favored, which was the triumph of Sporting Cristal by 2-1 to The Strongest in the height of La Paz and that left the set of Núñez in second place in Group D, so, with only tying against the Bolivian team on the last date, will be among the 16 best of the Libertadores.
River played against the Brazilian team as these Cup matches should be played. Much more in a borderline situation, in which, if he did not get a victory, he could stay out of the race. With a lot of intensity, pressure, concentration and play. And the combo also included the maxims and the cup tricks.
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"We played a great game against a great opponent, we played one of those games that we have to take forward," said Demichelis, happy and relieved at the same time by the victory of his team. He added: "We had a lot of time to let run and that's why as soon as they moved the ball we went high to press, putting many spaces at risk, but the boys executed everything we talked about well. We had short passes, mobility, great pressure, orienting the game to a certain side."
River did not stop pressing and looking for the initial goal, but without despair, so he tried to stand well against possible counterattacks. And when the goal came and had the advantage, Demichelis made changes to balance the team and not come and go at a gallop. He won the double five with the entry of Matías Kranevitter. And to control John Arias, who was driving Andrés Herrera crazy, he sent Paulo Díaz to the field. And the entry of José Paradela perhaps left doubts because the former Gimnasia did not get hooked with the game, but the context asked for someone to keep the ball.
And about the end, when he had to delay the game in some action, River did it, as in the sides. Going a thousand per hour and stick by stick at all times, as happened in previous matches of the Cup was not business. And when he could counterattack to define the match, he also made it concrete, in that stack of Esequiel Barco, who was penalized.
"We didn't negotiate the effort, that's why in the second half we felt the wear. We took a final forward, I'm proud of the guys because they got the best they have and with the support of the people from the first minute. We perceived everything and that allowed us to get a lot of heart," Demichelis said. It's true. The fans also played their game and gave the Monumental a copera night acoustic, with deafening shouts and a lot of encouragement during the 90 minutes.
River had mystique again. The one he cultivated during the Gallardo cycle. And that seeks to extend it now with Demichelis. Just a few days after the meeting that the coaches had in the club's museum, the day of the inauguration of the statue of the Doll. As if that greeting between the two had meant a magical transfer of copero powers.