River Plate, Boca Juniors set for Copa Libertadores final

Fans and players from fierce Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors are getting ready for the Copa Libertadores final later Sunday after the biggest game in South American club soccer was relocated to the neutral setting of Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The scheduled kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. local time (1930 GMT).

The hotly awaited match — the equivalent of Europe’s Champions League — was postponed and transferred from Buenos Aires to the Spanish capital after River fans attacked Boca’s team bus on Nov. 24 ahead of the second leg.

The first leg at Boca’s La Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires ended 2-2.

Spanish police are using a security perimeter of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) between Boca and River fans around the stadium.

No incidents between fans have been reported so far as they shared public transport while heading for the game.

At Boca’s fan zone, supporters threw confetti in their team’s color of blue and yellow. Horacio Sanchez, who came from Argentina for the decider, said he didn’t expect any less enthusiasm from fans even in Madrid in December.

“Boca fans are Boca fans anywhere. We do it all for Boca, we brought a great atmosphere to Madrid. It is not just like Argentina, but it is near,” he said.

A few blocks away, Claudio Aguilar was wrapped in a River flag as he waited for his team to leave the hotel. He had just come from Plaza de Cuzco, where other supporters were spinning red and white umbrellas in the air.

“It cost me a lot to be here, but I do anything for River. This final does not have the same taste, it is far from home and I can’t fulfill my dream of celebrating with my neighbors on the streets of our city. But we have to win, maybe we will never play a Libertadores final against Boca again,” he said.

Boca is chasing its seventh South American title, while River seeks its fourth.


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