First blood to Boca
The fiercest and most bitter of derby rivalries will be played out not once, but twice, this month as Boca Juniors and River Plate do battle (quite literally) for the right to be crowned Champions of South America. La Bombonera, the home of Boca, is the scene for the first leg on Saturday evening.
Making the most of home advantage
There are long running feuds between teams but, as you may have heard, the Superclásico is on another level to anything in world football. Such is the sheer hate between the two clubs and the opposing fans, there will be no support for the away team of each leg.
And since, a run-of-the-mill argument between a Boca and River fan ended in one burning the other’s house down recently, in addition to the last meeting between the two in this tournament ending with the game being abandoned due to fan violence, it’s probably just as well this has been enforced to be honest!
But how will this affect the game? Well, in their respective runs to the final, both share similar records, losing just once along the way. You could say Boca have been the more impressive on their own patch though, winning five of their six, all to nil; of note in particular the victory over Brazilian League Champions elect, Palmeiras at the semi-final stage.
Bucking the recent trend
The bookies certainly attest to the performances Boca have conjured up at home and are of the belief they have what it takes to prevail over their rivals on the night. One caveat of this however remains the last six Superclásico meetings. Rather bizarrely, the away side have run out of victors each time.
Yet, when you weigh up the fact away supporters were allowed in to the ground on those occasions, with the thought of River Plate stepping into the cauldron of hate that awaits them here, you sense such a unique run can’t go on forever and will be brought to an end by a Boca side seeking revenge the defeat they suffered in the league fixture two months ago.
Boca aiming to equal the record
Whisper it quietly in the neighbourhood of La Boca but Carlos Tevez’s side are three behind River Plate’s all-time record of 36 domestic titles. Boca are the reigning Champions though and the more successful of the two in terms of the Copa Libertadores.
In fact, Boca have the opportunity to draw level with Independiente on seven titles and become South America’s number one club side once again, should they win the tie. To say they did so against the team they loathe most is some incentive.
There's no doubting the match is finely poised. But it's hard to look beyond Boca considering their run to the final and the motivating factors surrounding the first match, not least the partisan crowd which I expect to have a huge bearing on both teams.