It would be unrealistic to deny that very few people cared truly about last Saturday’s match against Club Atlético Tigre in the context of the Superliga. As we all know, the only thing in our minds for the next two weeks – and probably for a long time after it is over – is the CONMEBOL Libertadores Final against no other than River Plate. Nevertheless, and however an unimportant event facing Tigre might have been, there are some interesting conclusions to discuss as Boca walked past them by four goals to one. In this match analysis, we will evaluate the performance of Boca Juniors against Tigre.
Boca Juniors 4 (C. Tévez x2; E. Cardona; J. Buffarini) – 1 Tigre (F. Gonzalez)
The Barros Schelotto twins are two weeks away from entering the big history book of the club in their managerial tenure. However, there is also a Superliga they are simultaneously trying not to get left behind in. This is why before facing their fate, they decided to send a similar starting XI to the pitch to the one that lost to Gimnasia last weekend hoping that the desire to win would be more tangible. Among the chosen ones were Darío Benedetto, Mauro Zárate, Carlos Tévez, Edwin Cardona, Fernando Gago and Leonardo Balerdi. This not only reminded us of how deep and valuable Boca’s squad is – not many clubs can allow themselves to have Carlos Tévez as a back-up – but also gave us a slight hint on who will play on Saturday against River Plate.
The atmosphere prior to the match was something not short of euphoria. La Bombonera, packed to the rafters, demanded the Copa Libertadores through chants the same way the most exigent customer would ask for the most exclusive dish. A situation in which the only positive way out is to deliver. Nobody truly gave much importance to this match or the rival, except for (probably) the rivals and us, because of our intention of putting these opinions together for all of you. Like mentioned above, Tigre were just a mere spectator of the one-way communication happening between supporters and their team. The match was only a preliminary meeting between the two, and therefore any rival would have mattered very little. Important or not, it had to be played and that is what both teams did exactly that and offered a fantastic game of football.
The first half began considerably better than against Gimnasia. Both Gago and Agustín Almendra looked active and sharp this time, the former presuming his gifted vision and passing abilities and the latter covering large portions of ground and rounding an overall good performance. Further up the pitch, this time Cardona seemed more committed, Tévez was visibly more comfortable behind a striker that was not him and Zárate provided a resourceful option on the left flank. Finally, up top, Benedetto did his job correctly and not only generated chances for the ones coming from behind him but also could have scored one or two should he have been centimetres more accurate. Boca seemed dangerous during attacking transitions yet the lack of defensive aptitudes in its midfield meant that any approach by Tigre could lead to something for the visitors. Eventually, a distraction lead to Tigre’s first and only goal. This time, however, Boca knew how to react, and our boys did more than well to cut open a relegation-threatened defence that had just scored and thus sat back. A fantastic ball from Gago to Benedetto forced the goalkeeper to intercept the striker, which allowed the ball to continue rolling until it found Tévez, who simply had to tap it in from a weird angle in order to tie the compromise. After the equaliser the level of intensity dropped and there was less room for Boca’s dominance in attack, resulting in the minutes to pass until the halftime whistle was blown.
The second half retained all the ingredients that had made the first so amusing. Cristian Espinoza replaced Benedetto fifteen minutes into the complementary part and would later cause much trouble down the right side. Before that happened, though, time started to become our second rival even after entire passages of attractive football. The visitor’s closed lines and counter-attacking expectations made rushing in without measuring the consequences a risky option to take. However, with twenty minutes left on the clock, Cardona hit a loose ball from the edge of the box after a fantastic run from Espinoza and surprised the keeper to give us the lead back. His goal served as a mask for his pallid performance but also was a turning point in the direction of the match. Tigre’s strategy had been dismantled and Boca were now confident enough to relax having the result on their side. What followed was a compilation of every Boca player trying to score against a defeated Tigre, deeper in the relegation zone after every weekend. Tévez would score another one thanks to another Espinoza assist and Buffarini would eventually get his goal after trying several times to score as a right-back with little success.
After Saturday’s win, Boca finally won again in the Superliga and proved that it can have two functional squads. They only need some tinkering and polishing. Gago, Benedetto, Tévez and Cardona seem to be getting fit again. Balerdi and Almendra are more interesting with every game. Finally, questioned players such as Espinoza and Rossi finally seem to be getting comfortable again, something that is both good for them and the team.