Friday, 12 October 2007

Differing Fortunes for Super Clasico Hero and Villain

From the moment the final whistle blew to conclude last Sunday's Super Clasico between River Plate and Boca Juniors, the Argentine media have focused on two players: Diego Buonanotte of River Plate and Ever Banega of Boca Juniors; the hero and the villain of the piece.

Buonanotte has been widely praised for his excellent performance in the game, with many expecting the youngster to become a fixture in the 'Number 10' position, replacing the great Ariel Ortega. His manager Daniel Passarella has sung his praises, describing him as "very small, bold and not scared of anything". Those who witnessed the Super Clasico will find it hard to disagree.

One particular moment in the match, which typified Buonanotte's performance, was when he completely humiliated Boca Juniors winger Nery Cardozo with a cheeky nutmeg up against the touchline. This moment has drawn comparisons with the skill that Juan Riquelme used to flummox River defender Mario Yepes back in 2000, but Buonanotte has himself admitted that "the skill of Riquelme was better than mine". Whether it was or not is largely immaterial, as it is a moment that many will look back on as the point at which a star was born, in much the same way as Riquelme seven years previously.

On the other side of the coin, Ever Banega has endured a torrid week, having been sent off for two bookable offences just before half time in last Sunday's game, essentially ruling out the chance of a Boca comeback. His manager Miguel Angel Russo identified Banega's sending off as the key point of the game in post-match interviews, leading the 19 year old to become somewhat of a scapegoat for an anemic Boca performance.

Banega has responded by saying, "I am small, I am 19 years old and I am learning my craft. I commit errors like all the boys". Considering the success he has had in his short career up to this point, there is no doubt that Banega will come back a stronger player from this incident and will learn to avoid the rash challenges that are one of few weak points of his game. He seems to have handled the media pressure admirably and although it may take Boca fans a couple of game to warm to him again, his future is still very bright.

Although they have been the hero and villain of this story, it would not be at all surprising to see Banega and Buonanotte dominating opposition teams in Argentina's midfield for the 2014 World Cup. Both of them definitely have the potential to do so.


Buonanotte nutmegs Cardozo

Riquelme nutmegs Yepes

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