Tuesday, July 28

Boca Juniors opponents guide

Boca Juniors
Audi Cup
Allianz Arena, Munich
July 29, kick off 17:30 UK time, 18:30 local time

After completing their quartet of matches in Asia, the squad will fly straight to Munich to take part in a four-team tournament, joining Boca Juniors, Bayern Munich and AC Milan in the mix.

First up, in the semi final, is a game against Carlos Tevez's old team Boca Juniors on July 29.

So what can United expect from their second match against South American opposition in eight months?

Q. When was the club founded?
A. April 3, 1905 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since then, they have lifted 33 major trophies and become a world force in football.

Q. They might be good by Argentinian standards, but how good are Argentinian teams compared with European rivals?
A. Better than you might think. In the IFFHS club world rankings, which gives all clubs a score to determine who is the best, United are second and Boca are 11th. Estudiantes, also from Argentina are fifth, ahead of the likes of Juventus.

Like the English league, it has a few world-leading clubs, and then a lot of dead wood. Boca are definitely up there with the best.

Q. So how did they do last season?
A. The Argentina league is so complex you need a degree in organisational maths just to understand how it works.

Between August and December, 20 teams play each other once.

The top three go into a championship play off. Boca finished second, winning 12, drawing three and losing four.

They then won the three-way play off on goal difference and earned a place in this year's Copa Libertadores – the South American version of the UEFA Champions League, which runs from January to July.

Despite topping their qualifying group, they got knocked out in the last 16, with Uruguay team Defensor Sporting beating them 3-2 on aggregate.

During that tournament, a second Argentinian league season takes place – again, with each team playing each other once.

But as Boca were preoccupied with the Copa Libertadores, the league campaign was put on the backburner and, with one game to go, they lie fourth from bottom, having won just five out of 18 games.

It gets more complicated than that, but to summarise, Boca had a good season, but it was cut shorter than they would have liked, hence the need for the Audi Cup tournament.

Q. Who will be the main threats?
A. Midfield menace Sebastian Battaglia is a 28-year-old Argentina international who has played 187 times for Boca in two spells.

In the middle of that, he spent the 2004/5 season at Villareal.

He has a habit of scoring crucial goals against bitter enemies River Plate and is the Ryan Giggs of Boca, having won 16 domestic titles with the club.

Q. Will it be good value for money?
A. Damn right it will. Tickets for this one have been on sale for as low as e9 – and that's standing up as well.

Not only do you get to see this match, but you can watch Bayern Munich take on AC Milan in the other semi final right afterwards.

Did you know?
Boca Juniors became the fifth football club in the world to have its own TV channel in 2003. It closed in 2005.
You can buy an official Boca Juniors coffin – and even get buried in official Boca cemetery.
The club has its own fleet of Boca-themed taxis
They also sell their own brand of wine.

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