No Riquelme free kick, no Boca victory

April 12, 2011

By Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires

SOCCER/Boca Juniors, in their modern crisis that goes back a couple of years, cannot string three wins together.

Fans might have thought after two wins on the trot that the worst was behind them.

But there wasn’t a free kick in a good position for Juan Roman Riquelme to exploit so they lost 2-0 at Lanus.

It seems safe to say now that there would not have been two successive Boca wins if Riquelme hadn’t scored from two free kicks in a row.

So the big debate in Buenos Aires is what is Julio Cesar Falcioni’s Boca without Riquelme scoring.

One answer is that Boca are “not playing at anything”. Another that they don’t have enough good players and the best are some way past 30.

Playing for a defensive coach, Boca are defending poorly, caught out in the final 10 minutes at Lanus by a low cross and a corner.

Going forward, Riquelme is given few passing options.

Up front, Martin Palermo has now gone 811 minutes without scoring. He is rarely even provided with a chance.

Blame it on the fact that Boca are in the media glare every day. Falcioni is not used to it and behind the scenes a once confident Banfield coach may be struggling with his doubts.

A coach can go 10 matches at modest Banfield looking for his right line-up without the media questioning his every move.

Is Falcioni heading the same way as Claudio Borghi in the first half of the season?

Both took charge at Boca Juniors after recently steering teams to the title, Borghi with Argentinos Juniors, Falcioni with Banfield.

Borghi lasted 14 matches in the Apertura championship, resigning when his side lost 1-0 in November to arch-rivals River Plate, who were immersed in a bigger crisis of their own at the time and had just fired coach Angel Cappa days before the “superclasico”.

JJ Lopez took charge, won the clash with Boca and has steered his side slowly, defensively but surely towards the higher ground.

That doesn’t mean River won’t lose to Cappa’s present team Gimnasia in La Plata this weekend though the odds are against that.

The standard is very even, no one team stands out although the favourites would have to be Estudiantes and Velez Sarsfield who finished the Apertura in the first half of the season in that order, first and second.

Picture: Boca Juniors’ Juan Riquelme reacts during their Argentine First Division Championship soccer match against Olimpo in Buenos Aires March 20, 2011. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

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