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Rematch: Boca to meet River in Copa Libertadores

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.

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.