Standing just 1.80 meters tall and weighing 70 kilos, few would think at first sight that this is a world class goalkeeper. But the captain of River Plate, Marcelo Barovero, expects to shutdown Luis Suarez and the stars of Barcelona on Sunday.
"He is a stand-out player that looks like he works in an office somewhere. We compare him to Iniesta," says one of the journalists in Japan following River Plate.
In the semifinals on Wednesday Barovero calmly pushed aside three outstanding shots on goal to stop Sanfrecce Hiroshima from opening the scoring.
"Thank God I played well and could contribute," he said after the match, which the Argentine team won 1-0.
He was the only player that coach Marcelo Gallardo named in the press conference: "His stops were fundamental, he is huge for us. When he needs to stand up he does."
- 'Climbing a mountain' -
Barovero's success has come at age 31. Until age 23 he played in the second division with Atletico Rafaela.
His good performances, he was twice elected best goalkeeper, led him to club Huracán where he played one year before moving on to Velez Sarsfield.
In 2012 his big opportunity came to play for River Plate after they had been relegated to the second division.
"Two years we've been climbing a mountain, one step at a time," said the group of players who have won four international titles this year at River.
Barovero has been called up to the Argentine national team but has never stuck with the team.
- Possible return to his origins -
At the opposite pole of the modern footballer, Barovero, lover of the country life and of drinking mate, has let slip out that he is not happy in the big city.
His contract ends in six months with River Plate and he could return to Atletico Rafaela, leaving behind the stress of playing in Buenos Aires.
But before that he will face the great challenge of his career, being able to stop the best attack in the world; Luis Suarez, author of a hat-trick in semifinals, Neymar and Lionel Messi, provided that the last two are finally ready to play the final.
"I'm happy being in the final. You have to clear your head to play in this game. We know that this is a unique opportunity for each of us," he said Wednesday.
By Pablo MELIAN/AFP