The first day that Bianchi spoke about when Juan Román Riquelme was going to play, Boca’s coach was very clear: he won’t play until he is in a good shape. Most journalists said that maybe he'd play on March 3rd, but alter Boca’s loss against Toluca in Libertadores Cup and the team’s awful form, some versions now say that maybe his return will be earlier.
The fact is that Riquelme was training during the last 7 months. It’s not the same as playing as he doesn't have the soccer pace needed to play professional football. However, Boca's physical trainers said that he is better that what they thought.
Bianchi didn’t talk timing yet. During his coaching career, he never let a player play if he is not in good shape. Although this one time in 2000, when Palermo recovered ahead of schedule from his knee injury, Bianchi placed Palermo in the final minutes of a game against River Plate. Palermo scored the final goal of the game, which was a Libertadores Cup quarter finals match. Before that, everybody thought Bianchi was crazy for including Palermo as a reserve.
Now things won’t change. Bianchi is feeling the pressure from the journalists and fans. He had just said that he saw Riquelme in good shape during last practice (Román scored a goal in the last practice). Bianchi is very wise to include him without a good physical preparation, for Boca needs him very much.
What is clear is that Riquelme will be back to the main team when he gets ready. Boca doesn’t have a substitute for him. Leandro Paredes is too young to take over Riquelme yet. Everybody think of him as Riquelme’s replacement, but this is not the right time since he is also feeling the pressure. There is one more thing: few players in the world can play like Riquelme.
Boca is competing in the Argentinian league, Argentinian Cup and Libertadores. Bianchi will need all his players in good shape so he can rotate them. It doesn’t seem that Riquelme will play every match, but when he plays he will change Boca’s game.
When will this be? Nobody knows it yet.