Analysis: River Plate’s strong second half sees off Independiente

River Plate Independiente Superliga Tactical Analysis
artwork by @chapluana.

River Plate took another important step in their goal of qualifying for the Copa Libertadores by defeating Independiente at Estadio Monumental.

Marcelo Gallardo‘s side saw off Ariel Holan’s side with relative ease as they hit Independiente for three without reply.


River Plate Independiente Superliga Tactical Analysis
Credit: Wyscout.

River Plate took to the field with a 4-3-1-2 formation with a quadrangle in front of the defensive line with Zuculini at the base, Quintero at the point and the youthful Cristian Ferreira and Nacho Fernández in the sides.

Independiente with a 4-1-4-1 were dominated throughout the first half as only Cecilio Dominguez seemed to grasp the significance of the game.

River Plate Independiente Superliga Tactical Analysis

First half

River Plate played really well in the first half as they dominated Independiente. The away side couldn’t cope with River’s ferocity.

Nacho Fernandez and Quintero controlled the ball while Nicolás Domingo was very alone in Independiente’s midfield and could not cut the advances of Marcelo Gallardo’s side, who had three clear chances.

A corner masterfully executed by Quintero, a header miraculously saved by Martín Campaña and the exquisiteness of Matías Suárez that Figal somehow managed to clear off the goal line when all the fans already celebrated made it clear that the goal would be coming for River Plate, they only needed to adjust certain elements of their play.

Independiente only threatened once, through the aforementioned Dominguez, however, his effort was kept out by Franco Armani in the River Plate goal.

River Plate Independiente Superliga Tactical Analysis

Second half

Independiente started the stronger of the two teams in the second half and came closest to breaking the deadlock. Sanchez Mino had a big chance, but like Dominguez before him, Armani was in the way.

Despite their strong first half, River looked in trouble. Dominguez and Mino were hurting the home side as Zuculini struggled to break up the play.

On 58 minutes, Juanfer Quintero had to leave the field with a serious injury and on came the youthful Julián Álvarez.

Seemingly possessed, Alvarez scored with his first touch after strong build-up play from Suarez. It was Alvarez’ first goal for River Plate and his first goal as a professional. What a moment for the young man!

At the 70-minute mark, a gross error by Martín Campaña resulted in him bringing down Suarez and River had a chance to double their lead. Nacho Scocco duly obliged as he stuck the spot-kick home.

After Scocco made it two, Independiente offered little as the stuffing had well and truly been knocked out of them.

Things went from bad to worse for the away side as Lucas Pratto, who had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes, made it three.


River Plate’s win was massive and can’t be underestimated, not only because of who they beat but also because of their long-term goal of reaching the Copa Libertadores.

River Plate will not be champion, but nobody doubts that it is the best team in Argentina for quite some time.

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