This weekend sees the return of one of the biggest games in world football: el superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate which takes place in River’s Monumental Stadium. The two sides have not faced each other for nearly 18 months after River’s relegation from the Argentinian top flight in 2011 and though neither side is in impressive form – Boca are currently fifth in the table with River three points behind in 9th – this game will be as intense as any being played around the world this weekend. So intense in fact the Observer writer Gavin Hamilton wrote, ‘Derby day in Buenos Aires makes the Old Firm game look like a primary school kick-about’.
The first ever Superclásico game took place in 1908 which Boca won 3-1 though River defeated their city rivals 2-1 in the first ever official game five years later. In total the sides have played each other on 198 occasions in the league with Boca having won 72 and River 62, while they have also played 22 times in the Copa Libertadores with River winning 6 and Boca 10. Boca have also won the Argentinian title on 24 occasions but River lead their rivals with 33 league championships.
Although some footballers have turned out for both sides (for example, Gabriel Batistuta) other players are closely linked with either Boca or River. Perhaps most famously is Diego Maradona who played on a title-winning side of 1981 and then returned in 1995 for two more seasons and is a huge fan of Boca Juniors. He can still be seen at games at the Bombonera – Boca’s home stadium – cheering on the blue and gold. Two other notable stars of the club are Martin Palermo who is the club’s all-time goalscorer with 236 goals and playmaker Juan Román Riquelme who appeared more than 300 times for the club. 1978 World Cup-winning captain Daniel Passarella played more than 250 times for River Plate, then managed them for four years before becoming the club president, while other notable players include Ariel Ortega and Uruguayan star Enzo Francéscoli who scored more than 130 goals for Los Millonarios in only 230 appearances in two spells in the 1980s and 90s.
have not faced each other: Have not played against each other
top flight: The first division
Old Firm game: Celtic against Rangers
have turned out for: Played for, represented
Bombonera: The name of the home stadium of Boca Juniors (Literal translation: The chocolate box)
spells: times, periods
Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here
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