Superclásico, River Plate vs Boca Juniors

Tickets are generally quite affordable for most games in Argentina, and readily available apart from the Boca Juniors home games and the bigger derbies. There is one game that everyone wants to be at though – for Argentina’s Superclásico, supply doesn’t come close to demand.

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The introduction of the pre-season Torneo de Verano (summer tournament) and particularly bizarre league structures have meant that River Plate have played Boca Juniors a little more than often on an annual basis. The passion remains undiluted however and these games always mean something.

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The most recent encounters were played in the seaside venue of Mar del Plata, River twice winning 1-0 as a result of a penalty. Boca finished the first game with 8 men, hinting at the disharmony in the squad which resulted in the sacking of their manager El Vasco Rodolfo Arruabarrena, a couple of games prior to the year’s first league meeting of Argentina’s biggest football teams.

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Tickets were being exchanged for up to 15 times face-value, with no guarantees that they were authentic. Finding a trustworthy source for our Superclásico tickets was a god-send, for both financial and peace-of-mind reasons.

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The sense of anticipation for the game was evident all morning (early kickoff to prevent crowd trouble) and the mood was anxious and expectant. Normally, River’s Mounmental stadium has plenty of police presence and security checks, starting well before the amphitheatre comes into view. Today that presence was doubled, I lost count of the amount of times we were frisked or herded into various holding pens while entering the stadium. Tickets were checked 5 times.

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River had had a mixed start to the league, but home advantage, their status as reigning champions of South America and Boca’s own poor form, meant that Los Millonarios (the millionaires) were the favourites. Argentina’s ban on away fans provided a perfect picture in the stadium whereby every person was wearing some form of red and white clothing.

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The nervous energy finally converted into vocal support about 15 minutes before the start of the game. As the teams entered the pitch, thousands of balloons were tossed into the air and fireworks boomed overhead.

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The atmosphere was raucous, with fans determined to do what they could to help provide victory. The game itself was comparatively poor compared to the rest of the spectacle. River played as they would for the rest of the season, looking like the better team but spurning many chances and ultimately failing to achieve results.

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Boca for their part offered absolutely nothing. New manager Guillermo Barros Schellotto, El Mellizo (the twin), had clearly decided his team were too low on cohesion and confidence to attempt to win the game. El Xeneize (the genovese) were happy to park the bus and risk nothing.

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So as with most big derbies worldwide, the importance of the occasion meant the football didn’t live up to the rest of the spectacle. No goals, and no love lost.

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