Copa Libertadores 2019: River Plate vs Palestino

Copa Libertadores 2019: River Plate vs Palestino Tactical Analysis Statistics
Artwork by @chapluana

River Plate produced another show of character by beating Palestino 2-0 at the Municipal Stadium of La Cisterna in Chile and managed to qualify for the Octavos of finals in the Copa Libertadores. This tactical analysis will recap the key moments of the encounter.

For group A, Marcelo Gallardo’s team had to win. This would avoid a must-win encounter against Inter of Porto Alegre on the final day.


River Plate employed a 4-1-3-2 system with Gonzalo Montiel and Fabrizio Angileri starting as full-backs. Bruno Zuculini as the defensive midfielder in front of the central defenders. Enzo Pérez, Nicolas De La Cruz and, Ignacio Fernandez completing the midfield. Their goal was to create numerical superiority centrally and accompany Matias Suarez and Lucas Pratto.

Palestino, however, went with a 4-2-3-1 formation, trying to focus on pressing, creating overloads. This would translate into swift transitions combined with long balls to surprise the rival defence.

Palestino vs River Plate Conmebol Libertadores Cup 2019

First half

The pitch was very wet and the players had a hard time standing, the ball went from one side to another and the players were not fine to receive the passes of the first intention, the first 15 minutes were divided the domain of the ball and practically the goalkeepers did not have to solve any dangerous situation.

At 17 minutes River Plate had its first approach with a good discharge from Pratto to De La Cruz that in front of the goal he finished at the hands of Gonzalez.

The 21st-minute mark saw Suarez substituted after suffering an injury to his shoulder. Marcelo Gallardo maintained the same tactical system even after the introduction of Borre.

Javier Pinola powered a great header off Ignacio Fernández’s free-kick. Running in behind Palestino’s defensive line, they neglected the River Plate defender making it 1-0 to the Argentine team.

Palestino vs River Plate Conmebol Libertadores Cup 2019


Palestino pressed quickly to recover the ball by putting Fabian Ahumada behind Angeleri to cause havoc on River Plate’s left.

River Plate had their last chance from a corner that Lucas Martinez headed off from an unbeatable position and could have given more tranquility to the team by going into the break with more advantage.

The first-half ended rather poorly with Franco Armani being brandished with a yellow card for handling the ball outside the box.


Palestino began with greater impetus in the second half. They looked to win the tie with Passerini as the main threat. They try to disrupt River Plate’s flow, keeping the ball at their feet and lurk in behind Bruno Zuculini.

Marcelo Gallardo introduced Exequiel Palacios replacing Bruno Zuculini. This provided River Plate with more control and once again took a foothold in the game. Palacios’ movement along with Enzo Pérez stood firm denying Palestino space. Fernández, who remarkably raised his level again, began to dominate and impose himself.

Fernández first took advantage of an error in Palestino’s defence and created a two on three situation. This was a result of a pass from De La Cruz in behind Luis Mago. Combined with a poor clearance from goalkeeper González putting them 2-0 up.

Palestino vs River Plate Conmebol Libertadores Cup 2019


River Plate continued looking for more goals and was favored by the just expulsion of Palestino player Julián Fernández. This came after a hard kick to the knee of Pérez. Minutes later he had to substituted.

Pratto and the rest of River Plate’s forward were not clinical in their finishing. The team 2-0 scoreline could have been much higher since River Plate generated a host of chance. They failed to take advantage of playing with a man up.

Julian Fernández’s 73rd-minute red card hurt the hosts’ hopes of a comeback before River substitute Rafael Santos Borre was also sent off. Borre has given Marcelo Gallardo a selection headache after his dismissal.


This tactical analysis showed us how River Plate continues to show signs of being a team that the achievements do not slow down. Marcelo Gallardo keeps all his players focused on the task at hand. That is to keep winning. The injuries have cost River Plate to lose irreplaceable names but has given the fringe players a chance to rise up to the occasion. The hunger for success Gallardo has instilled makes River Plate remain a feared team. The coach has all the ability to lead them towards another Copa Libertadores title this year.

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