There is a well-known verse by Emily Dickinson that could refer to the matter. I translate more or less: “Hope is the thing with feathers / that sits on the soul.” In those is River. Under the direction of Marcelo Gallardo he has won everything, except a league. And in the absence of a day, the next, is in the lead of the standings with one more point than Boca Juniors. It is enough for him to win at home to Atlético Tucumán to lift the only title that Gallardo lacks.

But both Boca’s rivals (the two greats had not played a League on the last day since 2004) and the people of River prone to pessimism remember that feathered thing from 1966. The Millionaires played the final of the Copa Libertadores against Peñarol Montevideo and were two goals ahead, but in five minutes the Uruguayans turned the scoreboard. In the game following the failure, the Banfield fans threw a white hen painted with a red stripe onto the pitch. And from there came the nickname of chickens and the fame, only sometimes justified, that River wrinkles at the last moment.

River could have traveled much more calmly to Tucumán if he had won on Saturday at the Monumental Defense and Justice. However, it did not pass the tie. In the first half it was shown as a breaded, rigid, awkward team, at the mercy of the electric rhythm imposed by Defense. Bad omen before the conclusion of the league. On the restart it was River again. But every good archer is, at least once in life, the best archer in the world. On Saturday, it was Luis Unsain, Defense goalkeeper: it was impossible to score a goal for that man, except for a penalty. And with a penalty, River managed to equalize one and maintain the point of advantage over Boca, which on Friday overwhelmed Colon de Santa Fe.

Gallardo was seen in a very bad mood during the meeting. Then he spoke about what is coming this week: a trip to Quito to start the Libertadores and the crucial trip to Tucumán. The most emblematic coach of Argentine football appealed to the feathers in the sense of Dickinson’s poem: “I tell fans that they believe, because they have what to believe with.” The hope, according to him, was fully justified. “We are going to see if it is enough for us to win on difficult terrain,” he said of the visit to Tucumán. “That is our mentality, we are not going to run from there. Whoever thinks that this is adverse terrain for us is wrong. We are going to depend on ourselves. ”

Any thing is possible. A victory gives River the championship. A defeat by River and a victory by Boca against the Gymnastics of Maradona gives the championship to the xeneizes. Stated to speculate, a defeat by River and a draw by Boca would create a tie at 46 and would force a direct tiebreaker: the two arch-rivals would play the umpteenth superclassic to life or death, with the country paralyzed, nerves on edge and the usual apocalyptic environment. It would have his grace.

The Gallardo era accumulates glories. The River flight, in recent years, has nothing gallinaceous about it. Except, looking for, maybe that final of the Libertadores, just four months ago, in which Flamengo scored two wildly late goals (minutes 89 and 93) and snatched from River Plate a title that he was already caressing. In a week we will know if the feathered thing was hope or a simple chicken.

You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook, Twitter or subscribe here to the Newsletter.

.