By Tim Stannard
Marcelo Gallardo looks to potentially end his River Plate career on a high before taking his pick of posts in Europe
An all-Brazilian affair in the final would be a Sao Paulo sizzler.
A successive Brazil-Argentina battle would be brilliant.
But it is the chance of a Super Clasico clash between River Plate and Boca Juniors in the 2020 Copa Libertadores final that is the number one draft pick in terms of an outcome. Although as a caveat - the other two alternatives would be quite excellent should it come to pass. It will all be live and exclusive to beIN SPORTS.
Yes, the year is now 2021, but the Copa Libertadores is a couple of months behind the original 2020 plan with the start of the semifinals getting underway this week for the first leg, and next week for the second. The final itself will be taking place in the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on January 30.
🇦🇷⚽🇧🇷 @RiverPlate and @Palmeiras meet tonight in the first leg of their #Libertadores Semifinal!— CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) January 5, 2021
📺: @beINSPORTSUSA and @BBCSport are set to provide coverage in the 🇺🇸 and 🇬🇧 respectively. pic.twitter.com/MQhycShqz7
River Plate begin the first step to a potential Super Clasico final with a home game against Brazilian side, Palmeiras, which has been waiting for a second Copa Libertadores title for over 20 years.
The competition might also be a swan-song for River Plate coach, Marcelo Gallardo, who is seen as the next big thing in coaching to head to Europe - potentially Barcelona - to give Diego Simeone something to think about. January will offer the chance to make up for some pretty bad memories from the 2019 final when all was lost in the closing few minutes against Flamengo.
Wednesday's semifinal has Boca Juniors at home to Santos in a first-leg clash, with the Argentineans on their own personal crusade to honor the memory of club legend Diego Maradona with a first Copa Libertadores win since 2007 - a remarkable drought for such a storied club.
The 2020 Copa Libertadores final-four gets underway today live on beIN SPORTS from 7:20PM ET with River Plate vs. Palmeiras.
COVID-19 tests throw Barca's Bilbao plans into disarray
2020 is not quite done with Barcelona.
The team's second match of the current year is carrying some of the disruption of the last.
Wednesday was due to see a catch-up game between Athletic Club and Barcelona in San Mames - a chance to close a little bit of the extreme 10-point daylight between the Camp Nou club and Atletico Madrid at the top of the standings.
However, two positive COVID-19 tests in Barcelona's coaching staff caused an immediate suspension of Monday's training plans as well as Tuesday's preparations for the game, which included a training session and press conference with Ronald Koeman, where he was to be asked 15 identical questions about Antoine Griezmann.
Leo Messi hasn't been putting away goals in bunches like he has throughout his entire career, yet he's still creating offense for a struggling Barcelona side 🔵🔴— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) January 4, 2021
🎙 @hopesolo, @gabamado and @TRongen delve into the Argentinian's abnormal season so far pic.twitter.com/088Cnb9wQb
The reason for the schedule change was to await the results of COVID-19 tests taken by the rest of the team on Tuesday to meet strict health protocols in LaLiga. Depending on the results of those tests, the plan would then be for Barcelona's training to take place later on Tuesday. Currently, Wednesday's match is still expected to go ahead, but with less than ideal preparations for the visitors.
The Sports Burst live show will get the latest from Barcelona ahead of Wednesday's match against Athletic Club that is live on beIN SPORTS from 2:50PM ET.
Sergio Ramos more in than out at Real Madrid
Coach Zizou at Real Madrid thought that everything was going fairly swimmingly at Real Madrid, with the team largely tracking Atletico at the top of the table and the chance to enjoy a rare midweek break before facing Osasuna on Saturday.
However, there is hot news afoot around the future of Sergio Ramos with the Spanish media declaring that he is more out than in at Real Madrid this summer, when the footballer's contract expires, to leave him a free agent.
Indeed, Ramos is able to talk to other clubs right now as he plans his future. The stumbling block with Real Madrid is that the club is only offering a one-year deal when Ramos wants more. Manchester City are reportedly able to offer that.
This sets up a nightmare scenario for Zinedine Zidane - his critical captain Sergio Ramos leaving, but Gareth Bale coming back.