Boca's Osvaldo set for derby feast against River

By Rex Gowar

BUENOS AIRES, April 29 (Reuters) - Boca Juniors' three clashes in 12 days with bitter rivals River Plate are a new challenge for Italy striker Dani Osvaldo in which his reputation for a short fuse may be sorely tested.

Osvaldo may have imagined one "superclasico" against River in the league when he joined Boca in January on a six-month loan from Southampton.

But three between this Sunday and May 14, including their two-leg Libertadores Cup last-16 tie, is a feast for the teams, fans and neutrals.

"I've played it 340 different ways in my head but I'm trying to enjoy because they aren't things that happen often," Osvaldo, hinting at nervous tension in the build-up, told reporters.

"It's something unique, the most attractive derby in the world and I'm lucky to be in one of the two biggest clubs in the country," said Osvaldo, who has scored six goals in 10 matches in both competitions.

"They are matches that stand apart and have little to do with what came before."

Osvaldo has a reputation as a hothead on the pitch that contrasts with a laid back image as a lover of rock and roll off it.

He got into a spat with defender Leandro Desabato in a recent league clash at home to Estudiantes in which the visiting team were alleged to have set out to niggle Osvaldo and throw him off his game.

"Will they be looking for Osvaldo? River have one or two fastidious players," Boca coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena said when asked about his striker's reaction to perceived provocation.

The first clash is in the first division at Boca's La Bombonera cauldron on Sunday (2115 GMT) where the teams will be looking to assert bragging rights and sole leadership in the championship.

River go into the match on the back of an upset 1-0 defeat by Huracan in the Argentine Supercup on Sunday.

It was River's second defeat of the year but both they and Boca, who are on a 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions, are neck and neck at the top of the league championship.

"(Boca) are in good form, they strolled through their (Libertadores Cup) group, but I know that if there was anyone they didn't want to face (in the knockout rounds) it was us," said River coach Marcelo Gallardo, whose side almost failed to qualify for the last 16.

"For us it's going to be huge event because it cost us so much, indeed for some minutes we were out of the Cup." (Editing by Justin Palmer)

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