The Superclasico is known worldwide as one of the most important and fiercest derbies in football. It is the name used to describe the match hosted in Buenos Aires, Argentina between rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate. The name comes from the Spanish usage of “clasico” to mean derby with the prefix “super” used to emphasise the dominance of these two teams in Argentine football.
Such is the passion and anticipation surrounding this match that The Observer newspaper put the Superclasico at the top of their “50 sporting things you must do before you die” list with one reporter saying: “Derby day in Buenos Aires makes the Old Firm derby look like a primary school kick-about.”
So what makes this South American derby so special?
ORIGINS OF THE DERBY
Both clubs have origins in La Boca, the working class area of Buenos Aires, with River Plate being founded in 1901 and Boca Juniors in 1905. However, River Plate moved north to the wealthier area of Nunez in 1925 making Boca the predominate club for the working class football supporter. River Plate, known by their nickname Los Millonarios, are know to attract an upper class support although both teams in reality attract fans from all classes.
The derby is particularly noted for the passionate fans with matches almost certainly containing chants, simultaneous jumping and quite often violent exchanges between fanbases or with the police. The lack of friendliness is shown through the club’s nicknames for each other. Boca supporters refer to River Plate fans as “gallinas” (chickens) claiming that the players and supporters of River Plate lack guts. On the other hand, River Plate’s nickname for Boca is “los chanchitos” (little pigs) because they claim their stadium, located in the working class area of Buenos Aires, smells the majority of the time.
THE PUERTA 12 TRAGEDY
On 23 June 1968, a match between the two teams saw 71 fans killed in a crush at gate twelve. The disaster, which saw another 150 supporters injured, was the worst in the history of Argentine football.
There are various different claims as to what happened that day. Several people claim that the event was brought about by Boca fans throwing burning River flags from the upper tiers of the stadium causing a stampede. Other theories include that gate twelve was locked or that River fans arrived in the Boca area causing a disruption.
PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN HISTORY
The first ever official Superclasico was played was won 2-1 by River Plate in August 1913. River Plate struck two more blows to the Boca pride in 1941 and 1942 with 5-1 and 4-0 victories respectively. The two teams met for the first time in international competition in 1966 with River Plate coming out on top with a 2-1 victory.
Despite River Plate dominating the bragging rights for the early years, Boca hit back in style during 1974 as Carlos Garcia Cambon scored four goals on the way to a 5-2 victory becoming the player to have scored the most goals in a single Superclasico ever. However, in 1977 River came back from 1-0 down to beat Boca 2-1 in their stadium with a last minute goal to secure the 1977 Metropolitano Championship.
Over the years, the magic of this derby has seen results sway who wins different championships and individual players going down into their club’s folklore for scoring a crucial goal or putting in a match winning performance. The sheer hatred and passion that the supporters show towards each other tends to rub off on the players giving a match often full of drama and incidents. Both club’s have golden moments from the Superclasico etched into their history and the prospect of more memorable moments keeps this occasion high up in the football calendar.
A view of the atmosphere at a Superclasico!