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Boca Juniors have two aces in their pack, one now firing on all cylinders, the other in one of his worst slumps during his final season before retiring.
River Plate have a new ace at the lower end of the age scale who is growing in confidence, cheek and sheer skill.
Juan Roman Riquelme, 32, who featured in a UEFA free kick training video when he was at Villarreal, has scored brilliantly with two dead balls in Boca’s last two games, both victories, after his team’s poor start to the Clausura championship.
Martin Palermo, Boca’s 37-year-old all-time record goalscorer on the other hand, has gone 748 minutes without finding the net but understudy Lucas Viatri came on for him and scored the last-minute winner against Estudiantes on Sunday.
After the century of call-ups and largely meaningless tests against mediocre opposition in friendlies, not to mention the lack of direction in the qualifiers, talent and form look set to win out in the race for places in Argentina’s World Cup squad.
Most if not all 20 of the players picked by Diego Maradona for the warm-up against Germany in Munich on March 3 would appear to have booked their ticket to Argentina’s Pretoria World Cup base in June.
What more could Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos have in common with Juan Sebastian Veron later this year apart from being among the greatest players in South American football?
As Rex Gowar and Pedro Fonseca write, it is not new for South Americans to return home after brilliant careers in Europe and gain a new lease of life well into their 30s. Veron, though, touched new heights when he led Estudiantes to victory in the Libertadores Cup — South America’s Champions League — in 2009.