The news shook the world River: On Saturday, in the run-up to the Superclásico, 15 positive COVID-19 cases were known within Marcelo Gallardo’s campus. Many of them, undisputed headlines. But the alarms began to sound louder when the names of Franco Armani, Enrique Bologna, Germán Lux and Franco Petroli. Yes, the four archers.
In the local tournament the kid stopped Alan Leonardo Diaz, 21 years old: substitute for the Reserve and a stranger even to millionaire fans themselves. The young man complied and was a figure, despite the loss on penalties against Boca. But facing the Copa Libertadores, things are more complicated. CONMEBOL enabled a quota of 50 footballers to register, taking into account the possible massive contagions in this very particular context that is being lived.
River decided not to use all of those quotas, since it only scored 32 players, only four of them archers. Gallardo, in September 2020, explained the reasons: “If there is a massive contagion by Covid 19, it is because we do not have to play, it will be because the pandemic does not allow us to compete in normal conditions. Why am I going to expose guys who today are not in a position to compete in an international tournament? It seems to me that it is something that does not correspond, I cannot put guys from the Eighth or the Ninth, such a situation would be abnormal, and I take care of this situation”.
But now that the four registered goalkeepers are infected and will not be able to play the remaining two dates of the Copa Libertadores, the big question is: Who will stop the next game against Independiente Santa Fe, next Wednesday? At this point, it is anyone’s guess. The Millionaire could add one more goalkeeper in the event that one of those listed suffers an injury. But in this situation, infections by coronavirus would not allow new incorporations, although River has already begun efforts to add the kid Díaz.
In the next few hours, the entity that manages South American football will give an answer. If it is negative and River cannot add a goalkeeper to the list, a field player must put on gloves. Who? The speculations are various. Milton Casco, Jonatan Maidana, Enzo Pérez, Gonzalo Montiel and Nicolás de la Cruz usually stand out in training. The Uruguayan, one of the infected, is ruled out. Then, the chances of Montiel, Casco, Maidana and Pérez grow.
Montiel is an all-rounder: he runs, gets in, goes on the attack and is the specialist when it comes to kicking penalties. Will he also be a good goalkeeper? The question, to add more uncertainty, is how the game ended against Boca, since he played with a contracture.
Enzo Pérez is one of the leaders within the squad and he has plenty of personality even to tackle. But he came out at halftime against Xeneize with an ailment … Yes, from bad to worse.
Thus, Maidana and Casco, in principle, appear as more drinkable options. Recently, in the Colombian tournament, Águilas Doradas played with seven footballers due to Covid 19 infections. The authorities denied the request for postponement, and the substitute goalkeeper, in this case, was a field player. At least they had a “real” goalkeeper. But on a continental level there was never a case like River’s.
There is a similar recent antecedent: in mid-2020, Athlético Paranaense met River for the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores. Several members of the squad tested positive for Covid 19, including the starting goalkeeper and the substitute. The Brazilian club asked to incorporate another goalkeeper, but from CONMEBOL the answer was negative. He ended up tackling the youthful Bento Matheus Krepski Neto, 21 years old and debutant in First, who had a good performance.
Last week something similar happened in Boca, although with nuances. Xeneize visited Santos in Brazil (lost 1 to 0), and included Ramiro García as a goalkeeper within the delegation. But in this case it was due to the injury of Agustín Lastra, the fourth goalkeeper on the list, and not due to coronavirus.