April 30, 2008

Argentina: 2008 Clausura- Zoom Map.

Filed under: Argentina,Zoom Maps — admin @ 6:03 pm


The Argentine Superclasico: 4th May, 2008.  
By Sam Kelly  [of the "Hasta El Gol Siempre" site (]

Sunday, 4th May will be a special day for football in 2008.  For perhaps the first occasion this year- and it’s likely to be one of the only occasions all year- the eyes of the wider footballing world will be paying real attention to a club match that isn’t taking place in Europe.  There are fierce rivalries all over the planet, of course,  at local and at international level,  but this weekend sees one of the biggest- possibly the  biggest, bar none.  Because this weekend, by the docks of Buenos Aires,  River Plate (top of the Argentine league, and in with a good shot at their first league title in four years)  visit Boca Juniors.  Only one country could have the gall to refer to it’s biggest rivalry not as a simple clasico,  but as the superclasico.


The pair are Argentina’s two biggest clubs by a long way:  River claim slightly under one-third of football fans in the country;  Boca slightly over one-third.  And these figures are supported by numerous polls conducted independently of the two clubs,  by newspapers and other media outlets.  Popular myth has it that the rivalry was born when the two sides, both founded in the early years of the twentieth century in the dockside area of La Boca,  played a match to decide who would stay there, and who had to move out.  Quite why they couldn’t live side-by-side,  popular myth doesn’t explain.  Boca won the match, and River upped sticks,  first to Palermo, and then still further north to Nunez, where they’re located today.  The truth behind the move may have been a little more rooted in the availability of playing space,  at a time when Buenos Aires was undergoing a massive growth in population…but Boca did indeed win the first match between the clubs, 2-1, in August 1908.  Since then, it’s been 100 years of pure hatred.


Historically, Boca have had the upper hand ever since,  and their fans refer to River as ‘hijo’  (or ‘son’)- claims of fatherhood are often the chosen method of lording it over one’s rivals in South America.   In 323 meetings, in all matches (including friendlies),  Boca have won 117 and River 105, with 101 draws.  In the league it’s a little closer:  65-61 in Boca’s favor, with 55 draws.  In recent seasons, River have been gradually clawing the deficit back a little, not having lost to Boca in competitive matches since the 2005 Torneo Clausura- since when River have a five match unbeaten league run against their great rivals.  During this same period, River haven’t won any trophies (their last was the 2004 Clausura title), and their victories in superclasicos have been the only consolation for the drought.


This time around, that could be changing.  Under new manager Diego Simeone (whose short management career has already taken in one title win, with Estudiantes, in 2006),  River have a new effectiveness in their play, and such a good goalkeeper in Juan Pablo Carrizo that an (at times) incredibly shaky backline doen’t seem to affect results.  They’re joint top with Estudiantes, four clear of Boca after the latter lost another classico  this Sunday just gone, 1-0, to San Lorenzo.

River wins in La Bombonera are rare- the recent unbeaten spell has included a few draws there- but one this weekend could define the sides’ seasons,  even more so since the match is sandwiched between the two legs of the Copa Libertadores last sixteen. 

And speaking of the Copa, it could provide revenge for whoever comes out worse this weekend.  If both sides continue far enough, they’ll resume the planet’s fiercest rivalry in the Semi-Final, for the 3rd time this century.  Just think:  in Britain, the press ask us to believe Chelsea vs. Liverpool is exciting… 

**Click here, for an article on Boca Juniors’ stadium worries, by the BBC’s Tim Vickery.

Thanks to Sam Kelly, of course…check out his site (

Thanks to the Colours Of Football site (, for the kits.

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