They say that Marcelo Gallardo had a conversation with him on the plane that brought the team from Rio to Madrid. And the boy's eyes lit up. Julián Alvarez was already in the substitute bench in the final in La Bombonera and now the Muñeco has up his sleeve to maybe start him on the court of the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday. Is this the River manager's surprise? Is the boy the owner? Or will he be in the substitute bench and have minutes in the second half as the game progresses? What is clear is that the coach relies a lot on him.
Gallardo had complications with the attackers. In the absence of Rafael Santos Borré for having reached the three yellows, the wound (rupture in the right twin) of Ignacio Scocco and Rodrigo Mora (synovitis in the hip) was added. The Uruguayan is already recovered, but would not play from the start. As Nacho goes slowly, and working against the clock to at least have a seat on the bench. So if DT Millionaire wants to play with two attackers from the start to face Boca, the only option left for Lucas Pratto is Alvarez.
The 18-year-old, born in Cordoba in January 2000, lives a fairy tale. Only a handful of matches were played at Primera de River and he was entered mid-year on the list in good faith of the Copa Libertadores, before starting the round of 16. Take the 9 in the back, no less. They call it "Spider" and also "Pipe" because they see it as Lucas Alario.
Coincidences or not of the destination, if you have to play this final, Alvarez will meet again with Santiago Bernabéu, whom he visited when he was 1 year old.1 year (it was Barcelona's 2-0 victory over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first round of the 2011 Champions League) and was at Real Madrid. It was tested at the Merengue club and went. He even played a tournament with a white shirt, but since he could not stay in the pension until the age of 13, he returned to Cordoba.
So he did not return to the Spanish capital because the time he spent here lost his family. And without his parents and his brothers, he did not want to go back.
Julián Alvarez, at the age of 11, with the Real Madrid shirt and the classic against Barcelona. (Photo courtesy of Álvarez family).
The boy grew and continued with the ball. Even River, the club of which he is a fan, has crossed his life. And there he struggled to stay away from Calchi, the city of Cordovan where he was born and his family, who went every weekend to Núñez not to leave him alone.
Before being registered in the Copa Libertadores, He has been a sparring partner of the Russian national team. And just as he had the opportunity to be close to Cristiano Ronaldo a decade ago, he had the privilege of training with Lionel Messi, his idol.
Julián Álvarez with Messi in the Ezeiza property. julian alvarez lionel messi soccer player sub20 sparring of the argentinian national team
Now, it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Gallardo does not rely solely on his technical ability. In addition, he sees this with personality. In fact, he sent him to kick the fifth penalty in the definition against Gymnastics for the Argentine Cup semi-final last week. And the boy executed with mastery. The mannequin usually looks like its players before big games with Sunday. It happened to him to Alario in 2015 when it arrived like third attacker and, before several absences, Gallardo saw sharp and it sent to the land of titular in the final instances of that Liberators. Will it be the boy Alvarez's turn?