Marcelo Gallardo took his seat in the press room and there was immediate silence. The room was full of journalists who were keen to listen to the coach's every word as his side, River Plate, prepare for the return leg against Boca Juniors on the 24th November. The first leg finished 2-2.
Gallardo wanted to promote a peaceful message as his team must deal with high expectations. "I saw a very good match of football, I hope the return leg will be the same. I know you want to believe this is life or death but it's only a game of football."
"The players took it as a match of football and that's what I'm saying, "added Gallardo in regards to the first leg. "I hope the two sides can put on a fantastic show like they did in the first match. That's what we need to support. We have a certain way in this country and quite a complex society to say it's life or death."
🏆🗣️Marcelo Gallardo's hope for the 2nd leg between @CARPoficial & @BocaJrsOficial in the #CONMEBOLLibertadores final at El Monumental 🏟️ pic.twitter.com/xpehplO1PK — CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) November 15, 2018
Gallardo explained how he felt during the first match. He tried to remain calm and he was surprised by how well he managed to sleep. "The days counting up to the match I slept well. 8 hours. Now I'm back to the usual 4 or 5 hours."
"You must back your own work and we've been at this club for many years. If there's one thing we've maintained it's the humility in which we work. We won't ever change that. We have a unique opportunity to shape this final at our home," reflected Gallardo.
The coach had some good news on the injury front ahead of the return leg. Leonardo Ponzio is "training as normal and won't have any problems to play" and that his idea is to impose their will on Boca. "From my point of view, I imagine a match which we'll try to win and Boca will do the same. Whether it's a more compact match or not will depend on how each team sets up to play."