By most accounts, Boca Juniors already has the 2007 Copa Libertadores wrapped up: leading 3-0 after the first leg, Boca travels to Porto Alegre, Brazil, to face Gremio, a team that hasn't managed to score more than three goals in any of its 13 matches in the tournament thus far. And surely, the great Boca Juniors can't possibly surrender that kind of lead in a game of this magnitude. Don't be so sure, says Marcela Mora y Araujo, stranger things have happened. Boca has a history of being complacent -- especially away from home.
As usual with this team, a lot of the pressure will be heaped on the shoulders of Juan Roman Riquelme, a player "who divides punters," Araujo says. "Like Marmite, then, it seems" you either love or hate his slow, languid style. Riquelme is not fast, he's not a midfield ball-winner like Gennaro Gattuso or even a midfield general like Steven Gerrard. Rather, he's more of an artist.
But not always a consistent one: on his day, the offense completely runs through Riquelme, on an off day, he simply slows down play and sucks up space in the center. Luckily for Boca, the Argentine has been excellent in the Copa Libertadores this seasonâ¬"it's unlikely Boca would have made it this far without him. Indeed, Argentina Coach Alfio Basile on Tuesday confirmed he's been talking with the player about returning with the national team to play in next week's Copa Libertadores -- "poor timing," according to Araujo, given that tonight's match is Boca's biggest of the season. Before he can think about Argentina, Riquelme has to concentrate on winning the Libertadores; the job's not done yet.