Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
Well what a week for football. Champions League antics maybe dominating the European scene, but in this small corner at the end of the world it's one hell of a weekend for football.
Buenos Aires giants San Lorenzo played River Plate in the first leg of their Copa Libertadores last 16. In San Lorenzo's Nuevo Gasómetro stadium, River went down 2-1. Neck and neck until the final three minutes when Baldassi earned a penalty, which was neatly slotted away by González.
Earlier in the day Boca Juniors, who only just scraped through to this stage, won far from convincingly against Brazilians Cruzeiro. They play the second leg next Wednesday on Brazilian soil, but by continuing to earn their passage through to the finals on goal difference alone will not be enough.
Both River and Boca will, however, be mildly distracted by the Biggest Game on Earth (TM) this weekend. Yep it's the Superclasico.
Boca's Bombonera stadium will be shuddering during the most famous derby in the world. Both teams are high up in the league with River second, separated by goal difference from Verón's Estudiantes, while Boca are looking to rescue a little bit of dignity from their lacklustre season by winning the Superclasico and moving nearer the top of the table.
So as a little taster here are three clips demonstrating why Boca Juniors vs River Plate is such a spectacle.
Boca vs River at La Bombonera. Never a dull moment
Juan Román Riquelme, Boca's number 10 and all round saviour – or at least at the beginning of the season – reckons that River, whose recent loss against San Lorenzo in the Libertadores puts them firmly on the back foot, won't be able to score.
"Nobody attacks us in the Bombonera," he said in reference to the intimidating atmosphere the echoing stadium is known for.
"This is the most important game because we are both playing for the championship," he continued. "And we are going to win."
Boca are currently in fourth position, behind San Lorenzo, River in second on goal difference and Estudiantes on top. Only five points separate the top four with seven games to go.
"It's going to be a complicated game on Sunday," Riquelme told local football paper Olé. "It means a lot to many people, but lets be realistic. Its 90 minutes, when 11 players play against 11 other players. It's football. Nothing else."
Violence has traditionally been most intense at Boca-River games with their notorious hatred. However, increased police presence and the very limited amount of away supporters has led to a reduction in the troubles.
But it could be the internal wrangling in both barra bravas that remain the story, preferring to fight their own rather than the 'enemy'.
Well, I have booked myself a spot to watch the game. Not in the stadium – if you don't know Maradona you have no chance. But just to understand how important this game is in Buenos Aires culture, I have had to reserve a seat in the crappiest, dirties, little dive cafe in BA – THREE days in advance.
Man. I had better get on to Maradona's people. Watch this space on Monday for a full report.
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