The biggest rivalry of them all….

October 23, 2009

Normally my blogs centre around the two clubs I love, Celtic and Notts County, but right now I fancy a change of tact. Noticing that the biggest game in English football takes place at Anfield on Sunday when Manchester United visit the famous old ground, I thought I’d examine football rivalries.

In the English game, there can be no doubts that the match between Liverpool and United is the number one game. Not only are both clubs in close geographical proximity, but they are far and away the most succesful clubs. Both have 18 league championships, and they have 8 European Cup wins between them. Impressive reading indeed. It is this success, as well as the history of the two cities that gives the game such spice. However, the biggest game in Britain is undoubtedly the Old Firm derby, a thoroughly unique game, with religion woven into the very core.

We then have the massive ‘Classico’ game in Spain, between the mighty Barcelona and 9 time European Champions, Real Madrid.

However, this Saturday sees the biggest club game in the whole of World football. A game that dwarves all other rivalries, and the game that saw the greatest player of the last 30-odd years (and perhaps the greatest of all time) emerge on the scene. I am of course talking about Diego Armando Maradona, and the ‘Super Classico’ between Boca Juniors and River Plate.

Neither side these days are blessed with the like of Maradona, but that doesn’t stop the fans getting ridiculously excited. And what a massive part of world football these two clubs are. Over half the population of Argentina support one or other of these sides, which is over 18 million fans.

However, the demographic of the two sides is interesting, in a way which is very unfamiliar to us British fans. Boca Juniors are known as the ‘People’s team”, a club that are supported by the working class of Argentina. River, meanwhile are the ‘Millionaires’, a team that represent the middle classes after a controversial move to an affluent area of Buenos Aires in 1938.

Not only are these two sides the biggest in Argentina, they are also the most succesful. River have won 33 league Championships and 2 Copa Libertadores (South America’s equivalent of the European Cup) whilst Boca have 31 titles and 6 Copa Libertadores.

With past players including Gabriel Batistuta, Carlos Teves, Juan Roman Riquelme and the aforementioned Maradona, the game has never been short of quality, but it is the fans that make this the game it is. This claim was backed up by the Observer’s ’50 sporting things to do before you die’, which claimed that “derby day in Buenos Aires makes the Old Firm game look like a primary school kick-about”

Sounds like a good day out. Anybody got a spare ticket?

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