Real Madrid's Bernabeu to Host Copa Libertadores Final 2nd Leg

The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate was postponed twice over fan violence and had to be taken out of Argentina altogether.
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Argentina's biggest match will be played in Madrid.

CONMEBOL confirmed multiple reports from both Argentina and Spain, that it is moving the Copa Libertadores final between bitter Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate to Real Madrid's Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, and it will be played on Sunday, Dec. 9 with sets of fans from both clubs permitted to attend. Visiting fans were prohibited from attending the two-legged final when it was staged in Argentina.

The second leg was supposed to be played on Nov. 24, but it was postponed–first by a day, and then indefinitely–after fan violence outside of River's El Monumental stadium prior to scheduled kickoff. Projectiles were thrown at the Boca Juniors team bus as it approached the stadium, and players were also impacted by tear gas and pepper spray used by police to combat the crowds, rendering them incapable of playing. Even so, it took great lengths before CONMEBOL postponed the match, and it tried to stage it a day later, even opening El Montumental and letting some fans in before ultimately heeding Boca's protests.

WILSON: The Complications Surrounding a Copa Libertadores Final Unlike Any Other

CONMEBOL announced on Tuesday that it would be seeking alternative locations and moving the game outside of Argentina altogether for the safety of its players. Miami; Asuncion, Paraguay; Medellin, Colombia; and Doha, Qatar, were reportedly in contention along with Madrid, which will now host both the Copa Libertadores and Champions League finals in the same season, with the latter being played at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano on June 1. The Bernabeu is open that weekend, as Real Madrid will be playing at Huesca on Dec. 9.

It remains to be seen how the clubs take the news. Boca Juniors has been steadfast that the second leg should be called off and that it should be awarded the title as a result of the River fans' actions, and it could appeal this development and take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, according to reports.

On Thursday, CONMEBOL sanctioned River Plate to the tune of a $400,000 fine and ordered that two matches be played behind closed doors in 2019. The governing body also dismissed Boca's petition to have the second leg called off.

Any further action taken by Boca has a deadline to be completed. The Copa Libertadores winner is South America's entrant in the FIFA Club World Cup, which kicks off Dec. 12 in the United Arab Emirates. South America's participant doesn't begin play until the semifinals on Dec. 18.

Boca Juniors and River Plate played to a 2-2 draw in the opening leg at La Bombonera, with River twice coming back from one-goal deficits to pull even. That match, too, was delayed by a day, with weather conditions decimating the field conditions and forcing the match to be postponed.