Saturday night with emotions in Núñez. In the last pre-season friendly River had a 0-0 draw against Vélez who, despite not having goals, had good football, dynamic and depth in 90 entertaining and interesting minutes. But in the stands it became a long-awaited and special atmosphere: the return of Juan Fernando Quintero took place with the millionaire shirt and the public was reunited with Lucas Pratt after almost two years. The heroes of Madrid, back home.
Already in the previous meeting there were three special scenes with expected ovations. Interestingly, the first came when the voice of the stadium announced the visiting eleven starters: with shirt number 12, Pratto returned to Núñez after almost two years and received the affection of the public. His last time had been on February 29, 2020 in 1-1 with Defense and Justice for the Super League and, since his departure to the Netherlands at the end of that year, he had not been able to meet the fans again. “Hey, hey, hey, hey, Bear, Bear…”, was the cry of the four stands to greet one of the idols of the Marcelo Gallardo cycle.
When the teams entered the playing field, the sequence was repeated: Pratto thanked and greeted the DT and all the members of the millionaire bench. “Thank you, Bear,” read the Sivori Alta’s screen. Previously, when the voice of the stadium presented River’s substitutes, the Monumental melted into a deafening applause to once again receive Juan Fernando Quintero, the glorious number 10 of Madrid who returned from China and, like Pratto, had never been able to say goodbye to his people. Immediately afterwards, the figure of Gallardo appeared on the stadium screen and the public exploded with the classic “Muñeco, Muñeco”. A night of multiple sensations in Núñez with a very intense encounter in the field.
In a first half with arrivals in both arches, the best sparks of River came with the reinforcements: Elijah Gomez He had an auspicious presentation on the left side with overflow, personality and a lot of sacrifice, to the point that it was the highest point of the team. While Thomas Pochettino he showed again why Gallardo chose him to reinforce the midfield. The midfielder showed game vision, an incisive pass and an interesting display to be the team’s most dangerous card. So much so that, from his feet, came the shot that came closest to breaking Lucas Hoyos’ goal in the first half.
At 17 minutes into the second half, with a River that began asleep and for a short stretch of the game was dominated by a good approach by Vélez, Gallardo ordered three changes and one took all the flashes: Quintero burst onto the field of play instead of Santiago Simón and was again applauded by the public. At the same time, he also made his presentation Esequiel Barco entered for Pochettino and Nicolás De La Cruz entered for José Paradela. In the 4-1-4-1 scheme, Barco was located on the left and Juanfer on the right. The two on the outside to burst in with their skillful leg, supported by De La Cruz and Enzo Fernández as insiders.
Both reinforcements showed part of their talent with footsteps, feints, facings and more than interesting passes. They showed that they have that share of ingenuity, imbalance and deception to make the fans rise from the stands. With your income, River renewed the energies of the axis of the field and returned to take over the game, but he could not specify the situations that he generated and he lacked more precision in three quarters of the field to be able to win. Thus, he could not break the 0-0, goalkeeper Hoyos was the figure and the Juan Gilberto Funes Cup was left to Vélez for being a visitor.
The preseason ended for the Millionaire with good feelings and a continuity of the rising football level that he had shown in the last stretch of 2021: an intense team, with mobility, offensive voracity, a characteristic high pressure to recover the ball as soon as possible and a strong leg to score. Thus, with his style, he runs the usual risks of playing with his defense so advanced: he needs maximum concentration so as not to suffer when the rival finds the spaces with the baseline open. Beyond the fact that he was far from suffering or close to defeat, that happened last night. In the second half, Vélez, who at all times was orderly and well planted in the Monumental, had good connections and managed to hurt the millionaire center-backs. Thus, he activated Franco Armani, who saved his goal twice in the second half.
Thus, River only lost 2-1 in the first informal friendly against Independiente and then beat Atlanta 4-1, Platense 3-0 and Tristán Suárez 4-1 to close last night against Vélez the preparation with a goalless equality. Next Saturday will be the moment of truth: the debut in the Professional League Cup against Unión in Santa Fe. Apart from not having been able to win yesterday, the first sensations of the year are positive and the transfer market with seven reinforcements that promise to make the team grow -yesterday Andrés Herrera was at the stadium watching his new team- invites you to dream.