Saturday, January 19, 2019 | ePaper
Thousands of Boca and River fans set for Copa final in Spain
Hundreds of Boca Juniors fans gathered outside their team's hotel in Madrid on Saturday, chanting "It doesn't matter where you play, we will always follow you."
A few hours later, thousands of River fans packed the iconic Plaza del Sol in the heart of the Spanish capital, one day before the bitter Argentine rivals meet in the final of the Copa Libertadores, South America's equivalent of the Champions League.
Tens of thousands of Boca and River fans are in the city for the "superclasico" at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday.
"I think fans from both teams are very nervous today," said 14-year-old Boca fan Joaquim Naser, who traveled from Argentina to watch the game. "It's going to be a great party at the Bernabeu. It's going to be packed with South American fans."
About 25,000 supporters from each club are expected at the Bernabeu, with many making the trip of more than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) from Argentina.
Carrying blue-and-yellow flags, banners and drums, Boca fans welcomed the squad after its last practice session before the final. The supporters cheered when the bus arrived and players waved to them.
Dressed in red and white, River fans later gathered in the city center, taking over the Plaza del Sol as they chanted the team's traditional songs.
Both teams had closed practice sessions in the last day of preparations for the final, which was moved to Madrid after fan violence marred the second leg in Buenos Aires two weeks ago. Boca Juniors players were injured before the match when River fans attacked the Boca team bus with rocks, bottles and wood. The first leg, hosted by Boca in Buenos Aires, ended in a 2-2 draw.