As all of Argentina get ready for it's bi-annual clash of the giants, second place River Plate have hit a bump or two in their preparations. Not only did the club have problems on their trip home after Sunday's game, forward Ariel Ortega failed to show up at the club's Ezeiza training ground this morning. The latest out of Argentina is that Ortega has still not gotten in touch with the club. River vice-president Domingo Diaz, when asked about Ortega today on TyC Sports TV show Estudio Futbol, said that there was no need to judge the player. He continued by saying "I don't now why he missed today's training session, but I'm sure there's a perfectly innocent explanation to it all."
As the Reuters report spells out, Ortega had a similar incident dog him earlier this season that saw him sent to train with the reserve squad as punishment.
This only adds more drama to the match on Sunday against Boca Juniors. River coach Daniel Passarella is already dealing with the critics concerning River's last to games. Both matches ended with the opposing teams scoring late to secure draws. This isn't what Passarella was hoping for as he prepares for the biggest match of the season.
Meanwhile, Boca trained lightly today at their Casa Amarilla training facility. Coach Ricardo La Volpe is waiting on the fitness of Hugo Ibarra, Matias Silvestre, and Sebastian Battaglia before settling on his starting XI. What is known is that Juan Krupoviesa will miss the match after being sent off on Sunday against Velez Sarsfield.
In other Superclasico news, it was reported today that there will be 1,100 police officers on hand at the Estadio Monumental. That's 50 more than when they last faced each other last October at River's ground. This all comes on the heels of continued crowd violence in Argentina's soccer stadiums. This past weekend, two first division games were stopped due to disturbances in the stands and one in the third division was suspended when a firecracker gave the visiting coach a little bit of ringing in his ears.
In 2004, The Observer Sport Monthly made a list of the "50 sporting things you must do before you die." When it came to attending the world's best derby matches, River v. Boca topped the list. By the way, who here hasn't done number 15?
Coming into Sunday's game, Boca have won 66 of their 178 matches against River. River has won 59 and there have been 53 draws. Their last two meetings saw each club take home a point. With so much at stake for the two coaches this time around, look for an end-to-end match and a couple of goals.
River problems mount as Ortega misses training [FIFA official site]
No end in sight to Argentine football violence [Guardian UK]
50 sporting things you must do before you die [The Observer Sport Monthly]