EL CHILENO MÁS QUERIDO

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Pudo haber sido ídolo de Boca, pero Carlos Salvador Bilardo decía que nunca un chileno había triunfado en el fútbol argentino. Los de La Ribera negociaron un préstamo, pero el propio Marcelo Salas canceló todo: «No tengo que demostrarle nada a nadie». River compró su pase en más de 2 millones de dólares, y el famoso «Chileeeeeeeno, Chileeeeeno» se hizo característico en El Monumental.

El hincha Millonario ya lo conocía. Lo habian enfrentado en las Semifinales de la Copa Libertadores 1996 que el equipo de Ramón Díaz terminó ganando. Salas se había destacado en el 2-2 en Chile, con una asistencia y un gol. En Núñez, el palo le impidió convertir. A sus 22 jovenes años, demostraba ser uno de los mejores delanteros de Sudamerica. Llegó a un equipazo con figuras de la talla de Germán Burgos, Roberto Ayala, Juan Pablo Sorín, Leonardo Astrada, Marcelo Gallardo, Ariel Ortega y el mismísimo Enzo Francescoli. Debutó en el fútbol argentino en el Tomás Adolfo Ducó (Huracán 2-3 River), pero se estrenó en la red, de forma inmejorable: en La Bombonera, Boca ganaba 1-0 con gol de Roberto Pompei, hasta que el Chileno definió de derecha y superó a Navarro Montoya. El resultado final fue 3-2 a favor del conjunto local, pero al final de torneo, el que festejó fue River, que obtuvo el título una fecha antes en la goleada 3-0 a Vélez, con doblete de «El Matador».

En el torneo siguiente, el Clausura 1997, no fue titular indiscutido. Julio Cruz fue quien más veces acompañó al gran Enzo Francescoli. Marcelo Gallardo era el enganche de ese vistoso equipo que acabó conquistando otro titulo. Salas, convirtió pocos goles, pero importantes. Por ejemplo, en el Cilindro de Avellaneda. River visitaba a Racing sin Enzo, y fue el chileno quien se puso el equipo al hombro. Primero, mató un centro como solo los cracks pueden hacerlo, y tras hamacarse de un lado hacia otro, desparramó a Ignacio Gónzález. Luego, como los goleadores clásicos, apareció en el área chica anticipando a todos y puso el segundo para que River sea lider. Fue un doblete importante, pero no tanto como el que convertiría sobre el final de ese 1997, en la Supercopa ante Sao Paulo. Aquella noche, Salas, casi por su cuenta, le dio una copa internacional al club de Núñez.

En el torneo siguiente, El Chileno tuvo su mejor actuación individual con la camiseta de La Banda. Marcó 10 goles y volvió a ser importante en la obtención del título que significó el tricampeonato bajo la conducción técnica de Ramón Díaz. Su jerarquía se vio en las últimas dos fechas, cuando las cosas se definían. River y Boca peleaban gol a gol el campeonato. El ‘Xeneize’ hacía lo suyo y en El Monumental, Colón le empataba 1-1 al puntero, quedando sólo 1 punto de diferencia entre puntero y escolta para la última fecha del certámen. Faltaban quince minutos cuando Berizzo, instalado de centrodelantero, sacó un remato raso al que Leonardo Díaz contuvo con una gran estirada. Pero Salas, siempre Salas. Cada vez con más olfato goleador. Con los ojos de Europa puestos sobre él. Estuvo más rápido que todos y empujó la pelota hacia el arco para que El Monumental explotara. Pero había más: en la última fecha, los de Ramón necesitaban sólo un punto para sellar la consagración, y visitaban a Argentinos Juniors en cancha de Vélez. Sobre el cierre del primer tiempo, Sergio Berti ejecutó un tiro libre desde el costado izquierdo de la cancha, y Salas, otra vez más vivo y más rápido que todos, empujó a la red de cabeza. Fue 1-1. River tricampeón y «El Matador», más Matador que nunca, fue el goleador del equipo. El fútbol argentino le quedaba grande: Lazio pagó por él alrededor de 20 millones de euros.

Tras lograr aún más títulos en el fútbol italiano, una grave lesión en su rodilla adelantó su regreso a Sudamerica. Salas se desvinculó de Juventus y regresó a Nuñez. En sus últimas 2 temporadas, coincidió con otros cracks emergentes como Javier Mascherano, Fernando Cavenaghi, Alejandro Domínguez y Luis González. Su condición física se había deteriorado mucho en relación al momento de su partida, 5 años atrás. Sin embargo, su idilio con la gente de River permaneció vigente, y «El Matador» se dio el lujo de tener algunos destellos del crack que fue, como por ejemplo en la Final de la Copa Sudamericana 2003 vs Cienciano, con un agónico gol que selló el 3-3 en El Monumental, el espectacular golazo ante Liga de Quito en los Octavos de Final de la Libertadores 2005, o el gol ante Sao Paulo al borde de la eliminación, que significó su último grito con la camiseta de River.

NÚMEROS TOTALES DE SALAS EN RIVER: 69 GOLES EN 137 PARTIDOS.

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1994. Si no rueda una pelota me siento incompleto. Cuando sea grande diré que vi jugar a Messi. Disfruto de leer y escribir.

39 comentarios

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  2. Pingback: Las primeras redes de Marcelo Salas

  3. Pingback: La serie más emotiva: Superclasico en semifinales de Libertadores 2004

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