The Match: River Plate v Boca Juniors

Same city derbies simply do not come as hostile as the Superclasico of Buenos Aires between River Plate and Boca Juniors.

According to reports, over 70% of football fans in Argentina support either Boca or River and the intense rivalry is matched in the trophy cabinets of these two great clubs.

Boca have 32 titles whilst River Plate have 36. The first league match dates back to 1913 with Azul y Oro (blue & gold) winning 76 matches against the 68 matches won by the white and red of los millonarios. Boca have 6 Copa Libertadores to their name whilst River have 3.

Both teams with huge trophy cabinets, proud long history and many world class starlets from La Banda’s Di Stefano, Onenga, Francescoli, Crespo & Ortega to the likes of Cherro, Carlos Sosa, Rattin, Maradona, Riquelme and Palermo of Boca.

With well over 350 games played between the two famous clubs I have picked three to remember thanks to some iconic moments.

1943: Boca Juniors 2-1 River Plate (Primera Division, Buenos Aires)

A significant game perhaps in the 1943 title race which Boca eventually went onto win by just one point over River. The two sides met in fine form with Boca a fortnight before beating Chacarita Juniors 10-1.

It was however River Plate who started the better with Loustau scoring after just twelve minutes. Then up stepped the legendary beret wearing Uruguayan striker Severino Varela on 25 minutes who dived forward to head home a Carlos Sosa cross to put Boca level. The header, a seemingly impossible method was crowned el golazo del misterio (the goal of mystery) and was stunning in technique untried prior. Varela who went on to score 43 goals in 67 league games for Xeneizes buoyed by his efforts then scored the winner shortly after half time. For Boca, it was the beginning of the party as they went top to overtake their rivals for Severino, he would be a legend ever after in the blue and gold of his team.

1957: River Plate 5-3 Boca Juniors (Primera Division, Buenos Aires)

Possibly the greatest match between the two sides came in River’s 1957 Primera Division winning season when the two teams entertained in an eight goal thriller which saw the eventual champions come out on top.

River Plate took the lead in the first minute through Menendez before Biaggio equalised with just 8 played. Hector Zarate scored on 16 for River before Rodrigruez again cancelled out the home sides lead. The second half though was all about coach Jose Maria Minella’s team as Rodriguez then Zarate made it three and four before Cambiaso was sent off for the visitors. Zarate made it five from the penalty spot completing his hat-trick before Biaggio scored a further consolation and two weeks later River Plate were crowned champions after a 2-0 win over Independiente.

2004: River Plate 2-1 Boca Juniors (Copa Libertadores Semi Final Second Leg, Buenos Aires) 4-5 on pens aet

The semi-final of the Copa Libertadores and with Boca defending a 1-0 lead from the first leg. The two sides would meet at the Estadio Monumental with it all to play for and it went right down to the wire in a game that had everything.

In a tense first half the teams would go in at the break scoreless but Fabian Vargas would be red carded shortly into the second half and Lucho Gonzalez would fire in a fierce drive to put River ahead on 51 and the scores level in the tie. In a tough game with much at stake Sambueza was then sent off for River with the game at ten aside but it wasn’t until the last minute when Carlos Tevez blasted home from close range to capitalise and all but win it for Boca. Or so he thought. Tevez celebrated with a hen dance to goad the River fans who call Boca followers ‘chickens’ and was immediately red carded before in added time Nasuti would creep in to score for River against the nine men. Boca though scrapped to hold on against the odds during the extra 30 minutes and would win the shootout scoring all their penalties before losing to Once Caldas in the final.

Quick Fact: River’s Reinaldo Merlo holds the record for most Superclassico games (42) whilst legendary striker Angel Labruna has the most derby goals 16.

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