When a sports fan thinks of a big rival match, their mind automatically thinks of rivalries such as Red Sox versus Yankees, Chicago Bears versus Green Bay Packers, Real Madrid versus Barcelona, and so on. But to South Americans, there is no bigger rivalry than the River Plate versus Boca Juniors matchup.
Both teams were formed in the early 1900’s from La Boca, the working class neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. However, River Plate quickly moved out of La Boca and into the richer neighborhood of Núñez. Because of this move, many working class people pledged their allegiance to Boca Juniors, as it was seen as the “People’s Club”, while River Plate was seen as the club of the upper class.
While cross-town rivalries aren’t uncommon, what separates the Superclásico from every other rivalry is how passionate each team's fans are. Throughout the 90 minutes of play, fans are up and singing, chanting, waving banners, and setting off flares and fireworks as their teams give it their all on the field. Both sets of fans hurl not only insults at each other in their songs, but are known to hurl fists as well, with many of the matches ending in a violent brawl between the two factions of fans. One such tragic example is the “Puerta 12” or “Gate 12” accident from 1968, in which 71 fans were killed and 150 more were left wounded after absolute pandemonium and disorder caused a stampede. The exact cause of the incident is unknown to this day. Some say the Boca Juniors fans started it after they were seen throwing burning River Plate flags into the River Plate supporters section, while others say that the River Plate fans started it after crossing into the Boca Juniors supporters section and picking fights.
On the field, players of both teams have a burning hatred for each other, as many of the players start off as fans of the clubs themselves. Therefore, when in game, high risk fouls, fights, red cards, and trash talk are all too common. Coupled with the passion of the fans, the players themselves struggle to keep their cool versus their rivals, and quite often engage in brawls that result in the clearing of the benches to keep the opposing players from ripping each other to shreds.
What makes this next match more special than usual is that, not only is it a match up between the two teams, but they are meeting in the final of the Copa Libertadores, one of the most prestigious competitions in the world, and the most coveted title of South America, for the first time in history. The two-legged matchup has garnered worldwide attention, as every soccer fan knows that absolute chaos is about to ensue, and us neutrals can sit back and enjoy every chaotic minute of it.