Gallardo to face one of his ‘last superclasicos’
River Plate’s veteran midfielder Marcelo Gallardo is hoping to win his last Superclasico this weekend as he considers retirement.
The deadball specialist has a decent scoring record against Boca Juniors and has netted free kicks in the last two league meetings between the great rivals.
Having played just under 300 games for River, the 34-year-old knows exactly what victory in this Sunday’s fixture would mean to fans of the club.
“The fans can be assured that I can only enjoy this game of football if we win. That is the only way to come away from a game happy, you will never enjoy it unless you have done your best. If I can scored then that is a bonus,” he said.
River’s captain knows time is against him and doesn’t know how many more seasons he can get out of his body.
“This is maybe my last Superclasico so I want to make sure I play a good game and beat them.”
Gallardo refused to say for sure exactly when he intends to hang up his boots but it is understood he is in talks with River president Daniel Passarella about extending his contract at the end of the season.
“I can only say that this Superclascio will be one of my last, I think it’s more likely that I play just one more rather than 10 more. That is why it’s so important for me that we get the result.”
After leaving River Plate for the first time back in 1999 Gallardo had four successful years at Monaco playing alongside the likes of Ludovic Giuly, Rafael Marquez and David Trezeguet. During his time in France the midfielder picked up league and cup winners medals as well as being named French League Footballer of the Year.
Despite playing some big Champions League nights and clocking up nearly 50 caps for his country Gallardo still revels in the atmosphere of a Superclasico.
“The game is such a special occasion, for the players on the pitch and the fans in the stadium it is truly unique.”
Another factor making Sunday’s game against Boca in La Bombonera so special for Gallardo is that it will be his 300th game for River.
“To be honest I did not know how many games I had played until somebody told me. I’m not really into statistics, I don’t keep count of matches, goals or yellow cards. I have always liked round numbers though and 300 is a good number.”
Gallardo has already represented River in fifteen Superclasico’s so he was hard pressed to pick out just one special moment from all those games.
“If I had to choose one it would have to be my first one back in 1994. We won 3-0 and the result put us on course for the championship. I managed to get a goal myself that day and we went on to remain unbeaten that season and take the title.”
The captain of River admitted to enjoying the rivalry with Boca but he stopped short of putting the boot in over the latest string of problems surrounding La Bombonera.
“I think the crisis at Boca at the moment is more to do with the media than actual football. Boca is a team that in the last decade won everything so just because they are having a bad time now you can never discredit them. They have so many good players who demand respect,” he concluded.
All eyes in Argentina will be on Gallardo and the other 21 players who take the pitch to contest the Superclasico on Sunday at 16:30 local time.