River Plate's fans react as their team arrives at the hotel. -Reuters

MADRID: Argentinian giants River Plate landed in Madrid Thursday ahead of their long-anticipated Libertadores Cup decider against bitter rivals Boca Juniors.

The first leg of the two-leg final – the first to pit the Buenos Aires rivals against each other – ended 2-2 at Boca’s Bombonera ground last month.

River were set to host the return at their El Monumental stadium on November 24 but it was postponed after River Plate fans attacked the Boca Juniors team bus.

As punishment, South America’s football federation CONMEBOL ruled that River would lose home advantage, and fears over further fan violence meant the game would be played outside Argentina.

The second leg is scheduled to be held at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Sunday.


River Plate players after arriving in Madrid. -Reuters

Boca arrived on Wednesday and with River joining them in the Spanish capital, both teams are expected to train on Thursday.

River, who arrived early on Thursday morning, are scheduled to train at 1800 (1700 GMT) at Madrid’s Valdebebas training base.

Boca will train at the Spanish football federation’s training base at Las Rozas, north-west of the capital.

The south American giants were initially opposed to proposals to play their decisive second leg in Spain.

Former Boca idol Juan Roman Riquelme lashed out at the decision earlier this week, saying it would make it “the most expensive friendly in history.”

“It won’t be the same. No matter how much I want Boca to win it, I think the final has to be played in our country,” he said.

“The way it is, makes it the most expensive friendly in history.”--AFP

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