x

Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Copa Libertadores: Five of the greatest Boca Juniors and River Plate players

Argentina's greatest football rivalry will be played out on the grandest of stages when the two clubs meet in the Copa Libertadores final this month

Diego Maradona, in action fro Argentina n 1979, is one of the greatest players of all time. Getty Images
Diego Maradona, in action fro Argentina n 1979, is one of the greatest players of all time. Getty Images

On Thursday, Boca Juniors booked a place in this month's Copa Libertadores final against River Plate, marking the first time the Argentine arch-rivals have contested South American club football's showpiece.

With the winner set for the Fifa Club World Cup in the UAE next month, we look at some of our favourite players to have represented either club.

Gabriel Batistuta (River 1989-90, Boca 1990-91)

A powerful and potent striker boasting an incredible highlights reel, the Argentine represented both clubs in his early professional career before terrorising Serie A defences throughout the 1990s, principally with Fiorentina. “Batigol” is considered a legend in Florence, and scored 184 goals in Italy’s top flight having also played for Roma and Inter Milan. Was Argentina’s all-time top scorer (54 goals) until surpassed by none other than Lionel Messi. Loved a volley.

Enzo Francescoli (River 1983-86, 1994-97)

Nicknamed “El Principe” because of his regal play, the elegant Uruguayan was known for his grace and poise on the ball. Was a standout playmaker during two spells at River, including elevating them to the 1996 Copa Libertadores crown. Also helped Marseille to the French title in 1991. Two-footed, the scorer of acrobatic goals and free-kicks, he was so good Zinedine Zidane named a son after him, while Pele was a huge fan. Some endorsement.

Alfredo Di Stefano (River 1945-49)

Long before earning legendary status at Real Madrid, the Argentine was lighting up River, beginning his professional career there and scoring 49 goals in 65 matches. Married almost every attribute a world-class player needs, Di Stefano was strong, quick and versatile, with the vision to match. Cemented his reputation at Madrid during the 1950s, winning five European Cup crowns and scoring in all five finals. Represented both Spain and Argentina, and is widely considered one of the greatest footballers of all-time.

Juan Roman Riquelme (Boca 1996-2002, 2007-14)

One of the greatest Argentine players of his generation and Boca’s finest ever contributor, the playmaker began his career at his boyhood club before spending his twilight there after spells at Barcelona and Villarreal. Riquelme allied sublime technique with vision, helping Boca to three Copa Libertadores titles. Criminally underused by Argentina (51 caps), his nutmeg on Mario Yepes in the 2000 Copa Libertadores quarter-final against River remains a truly joyous piece of invention.

Diego Maradona (Boca 1981-82, 1995-97)

Arguably the finest footballer to have graced the game, the Argentine’s time at Boca was relatively short (71 appearances across two spells). Maradona's $7.6 million (Dh27.9m) transfer to Barcelona in 1982 set a world record, before another unprecedented fee took him to Napoli, where he established himself as the club’s greatest ever player. Had vision, memorising ball control and ability to dribble. Captained Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, including those goals against England.