Boca v River: the Libertadores final South America has waited 58 years for

by Theguardian


Bitter Argentinian rivals are up against each other over two legs but no away fans will be allowed – it is simply too dangerous

Pepper spray in the tunnel, an inflatable pig floated in front of the away fans, Carlos Tévez being sent off for performing a chicken dance … take your pick: the superclásico has an almost inexhaustible store of anecdote, ranging from the bizarre to the tragic, the wackiness of the image often disguising the menace that lies beneath. Boca Juniors against River Plate is one of the world’s great derbies, maybe the greatest, and there is perhaps something appropriate about the fact that the last two-leg final of the Copa Libertadores will see these two most celebrated of rivals go head to head.

The stadiums, themselves shabby, atmospheric, dripping with history, may only be eight miles apart, but no away fans will be allowed at either leg. Those are eight critical miles, a journey that not only takes you past the Planetarium, outside which the first football match was played on Argentinian soil by British Freemasons in 1867, but represents the distance River travelled from their origins in the same docks as Boca to leafy Núñez. They are the immigrants made good, the rivalry cast as working- against middle-class, the sweat and industry of Boca against the style and artistry of River.

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