Arruabarrena takes charge at ailing Boca Juniors

Arruabarrena, a former Boca, Villarreal and Argentina left back, was appointed on Friday to succeed record title-winner Bianchi, who led the club to nine trophies a decade back, but had to go after a dismal 18-month third spell in charge.


“It’s a matter of pride and a great responsibility to be the coach at this club for which everyone knows the strong feeling I have,” Arruabarrena, 39, said at his unveiling.

“We’re going to try to pull out of this situation, I have faith in the squad,” he said of a team he has inherited lying near the bottom of the standings with three points from four matches.

“I can talk a lot (about what I want from the team) but they’re just words…We have to work hard,” added Arruabarrena, who won league and Libertadores Cup titles under Bianchi at Boca.

“The players are hurting, they feel rage and the best way to get out of that is to try to lift their spirits and I’m confident we can do that,” said Arruabarrena, whose previous coaching experience is with Tigre and Uruguay’s Nacional.

Boca president Daniel Angelici’s decision to prematurely end Bianchi’s tenure was not popular with club members who chanted at an assembly for his and the board’s resignations.

Angelici, however, moved after Boca’s third defeat of the season, 3-1 away to Estudiantes on Wednesday after last weekend’s 3-0 loss to modest Atletico Rafaela at La Bombonera.

“This is the best moment to play against Boca,” Velez’s Uruguayan goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa said as the leaders look to extend their perfect start with a fifth successive win.

Boca’s arch-rivals and title holders River Plate, in stark contrast, will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in second place away to newly crowned South American champions San Lorenzo (0030 Monday).

River have rediscovered their long-lost identity as an attacking team under their former midfielder Marcelo Gallardo, who took charge as coach when Ramon Diaz resigned after his side won last season’s “Final” championship in May.

Sunday also marks the return of the Avellaneda derby, second only to the Boca-River “superclasico” with promoted Independiente at home to Racing Club (1815).

The derby was not played last season after Independiente’s first ever relegation and Racing are favourites for their first away win over their big rivals in 13 years.

(Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)