River Plate – Cruzeiro: River Plate Do Not Make Their Dominant Spells Count Against Inferior Cruzeiro (0-0)
In this match, River Plate were just not able to make their deliveries stick. They controlled the match and found themselves in countless good crossing positions. Up until that point in each attack, they were cantering through Cruzeiro’s defense using expansive wide play, without stinging. Eventually, the visitors’ second half performance seemed to tip the tide back the other way.
Tactical analysis and match report by Peter M.
Coming into this Copa Libertadores Round of Sixteen tie were two sides who had played contrasting amounts of competitive football in the past two months. Cruzeiro have played eight matches in that time, with the Brasileirão Série A now well under way. Not to say their spirits in the buildup to this encounter would have been too high – the sixteenth-placed side had not won a league game since the start of May, drawing four of their last five matches. River Plate’s rustiness, however, would have been the main cause for optimism as their league season will kick off this coming weekend.
From the starting eleven that defeated Gimnasia Mendoza on penalties in the Copa Argentina a week ago, manager Marcelo Gallardo made just three alterations. Franco Armani returned between the posts following international duty with Argentina; Leonardo Ponzio was replaced in midfield by Nicolás de la Cruz; Matías Suárez took over Rafael Santos Borré’s role in the front line.
Following their 0-0 draw away to Bahia, Mano Menezes was just a little bit more drastic... not one of the players that started that league match featured in the lineup for this first leg tie. Not one . . .