Get ready, people. We are only a few hours away from a massive sporting event that will paralyze the country and haunt us at least for the next two weeks.
The Superclásico is upon us.
Also known as “superderby,” the match played between River Plate and Boca Juniors, the two biggest football teams in Argentina, is as incredible and unforgettable as you can imagine. In Argentina, River and Boca fans add up to almost 75 percent of the country’s population, according to pseudo-scientific, never ending polls that try to find out which team is more popular.
If you were in Argentina during the World Cup, then you know what “football” in this country. Yes, we’ve heard it a million times. It’s a religion, it’s a lifestyle, it’s everything you can imagine.
In fact, it’s likely that your first conversation with an Argentine sounded like this:
You: Yes, I just moved here, so what do-
Local: Do you like football?
You: I do. I know you guys-
Local: Which team do you like?
And then there’s just no escape. If you already root for a team, it better be the same one the person talking to you supports. Otherwise, most of the conversation will involve them trying to change your “camiseta”. If you don´t know anything about Argentine football, then you must automatically become a fan of the team your new friend supports: “You don’t have a team? Great, now you like (Insert team here).”
So, taking that into consideration, the coolest sports event of the semester is coming this Sunday. And here is some useful information to make your experience a little better.
What time does the game start?
The game is this Sunday at 5:15 pm at River Plate’s Monumental Stadium, so get ready to see a lot of people on the street, rushing to get to the nearest television, bar or radio.
Which channel is it on?
The TV Pública has the rights for every game in the tournament, so try channel 11 for standard definition and 615 for HD.
Should I try to attend the game?
Yes, if you can afford it. I’ve been to the stadium quite a few times, and it’s something you shouldn’t miss if you have the chance to get yourself a ticket. A million pieces of paper fly in the air as the team takes the field, the 65,000 fans roar in excitement and scream their hearts out with every move that any player makes. Whether River or Boca score, be ready to hear one of the most heart-stopping sounds ever, as there are only home fans in the stadium. You’ll either be part of an amazing goal celebration or one of the most deafening silences you’ve ever heard. Getting a ticket is not easy. You either have to be a member of the River Plate club, know someone who is, or work at a company that gets complementary tickets. Otherwise, there’s always people ready to resell their tickets and feed their entire family for a month with the kind of money the make from scalping.
Is it dangerous to go there?
Since, historically, there’s been a lot of violence between the local hooligans (known as “barrabravas” or “barras”,) the league doesn’t allow away fans to attend the game. That’s a downer because the rivalry in the bleachers is something really worth watching, no matter where you are. Sad face.
But while this means that the chances of being involved in a fight with knives and guns has been substantially reduced, you should keep in mind that the barras also fight each other for control of the bleachers. And this has been going on since forever, so there might be a little quilombo if the River Plate separatists show up. However, as long as you don´t go near the hooligans you’re cool. It’s just common sense. Don’t stand near the drunk guy with a knife and less than reputable unless you’re looking for a scar.
OK. I’m going. I’m getting there by car. Any advice?
Who are you kidding, you don’t have a car! But in the unlikely case you do, make sure you park far away from the stadium. Seriously, at least ten blocks. Unless you want to run into the parking thugs, AKA trapitos. You know who they are. The rag-waving guys wearing a bright yellow vest who try to give you directions while you park. And why should you avoid them? Because they will charge you a ridiculously insane amount of money to “look after” your car and if you refuse to pay the friendly fee your car may be “randomly targeted by anonymous criminals.” My advice: ditch the car and take some public transportation or a cab.
How about public transportation?
If you don’t have a car there are many ways to get to the Monumental Stadium. Here are the most convenient ones:
By bus: Lines 15, 29, 37, 41, 42, 44, 55, 57, 59, 60, 63, 64, 65, 67, 68, 80, 107, 113, 114, 118, 130, 144, 152, 160, 161, 168 and 184.
By train: If you take the Mitre railway, you need to get off at the Nuñez station and then walk fourteen blocks. If you take the Belgrano railway, you need to get off at the Scalabrini Ortíz station and then walk twelve blocks.
By subway: Take the D Line (the green one), ride it all the way to the last station, Congreso de Tucumán, and get ready to walk sixteen blocks.
Yeah, that all sounds great but I’m not going to the stadium. What other choices do I have?
If you have or know someone who has a parrilla, then this is the perfect excuse to get together with your friends and have an asado. The game starts at 5:15 pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to stuff yourself with meat, achuras, potatoes and whatever else people bring to the table. Whatever it is, it will be delicious. When you are able to get off your chair, just walk a few steps to the living room and sit in front of the TV. You have two hours of great football ahead of you.
And yes, you may be full and you will want to bring out the beer and chips. Worry about dieting later.
I don’t mean to push it, but an asado is off the table. What other options do I have?
If you want to get together after lunch, a picada is always a great option. Endless fields of charcuterie decorating the table and kilos of bread to combine with the salames, pates, cheese that perfectly go with beers or soda. Just writing this makes drool.
If you’re a lost who has no friends and you still want to make a picada for one, you can just go buy everything you need at your nearest chino. There are even places that prepare them for you, although they are not that much of an option if you’re on a budget. If you still want to give it a shot, try:
Are bars a good option?
If the bar you choose has a TV, you can bet your life that the game will be on. So find a seat and prepare for a shitload of screaming at the screen, rage, joy and quite probably more screaming.
I support River Plate. Can I go somewhere besides the stadium to be around my proud brothers?
Try to find a bar near the stadium. Libertador Av. is crawling with them and you’ll be around lots of fans who couldn’t get/afford tickets, so I can promise it’ll be fun. Also, there’ll be endless waves of pumped up fans ready to sing until their throats bleed, which is always a great experience to watch. (The singing, not the bleeding.)
What if I’m a Boca Juniors supporter and want to yell at River fans without being murdered?
La Boca will be full of people getting together to watch the game, as away fans are not allowed in the stadiums, due to the football related violence that’s been going around since well, forever. There’s a bar inside the Boca stadium called 1905 that should provide the experience you’re looking for. Call 4309-4738 for reservations, which you should do, in case it gets pretty crowded. If not, a parrilla or pizza place in the area might do the trick.
Is there any other special football place I should know about?
Locos X el Fútbol is a well-known sports themed bar. It’s great to watch the games and it’s got this stadium-like atmosphere. It has ten screens in it, so you won’t miss a thing. Reservations are encouraged.
Anything else I should know?
River and Boca have played against each other 192 times. So far it’s been 70 wins for Boca, 63 for River and 59 tied games. The Boca fans, or “bosteros,” love to remind the River fans, or “millonarios,” of that inconvenient fact and calling them “their sons” is the best way to make them feel inferior. So get ready to listen to a lot of that.
River Plate is the team that has won the most local league championships: 35. They’re the ones who have the most players who ended up being called to the national team, they are the defending champions and also hold the first place in the current Argentine football league. The biggest stars in the team right now are strikers Teófilo Gutiérrez, Rodrigo Mora and Leonardo Pisculichi.
On the other side there’s Boca Juniors. They are the second team with the most wins in the local championship, after getting the cup 24 times. The “Bosteros” are most proud of the number of international tournaments they’ve won: 18. On a local level, their performance this year in the championship hasn’t gone that well, but when coach Carlos Bianchi got fired, the team started winning again and they are now in the 11th position. Their best players are Agustín Orión and Andrés Chávez. Boca fans are still reeling the departure of their biggest star of all time, Juan Román Riquelme. If you ever feel like having a new enemy, ask someone wearing a Boca shirt what he’s up to right now.
In closing, it doesn’t matter if you’re a football fan or not. Handing out with Argentines who love it is always a fun experience. You won’t get bored, since what makes the superclásico so exciting is not just the game, it’s also its context.
It’s all people will talk about the week before. Suddenly everyone is a sports journalist and a coach, with endless arguments about who is better prepared to win. As the game begins, the tension grows. Fans get so absorbed in the game that they will ignore your questions for 90 minutes. And finally, after two endless halves of joy and suffering, the snarkfest begins. Get ready for the Internet to be overwhelmed by memes, jokes and poorly photoshopped images making fun of the losing team. For days.
This is the most important football match in Argentina. And that’s all you need to know.
Not convinced yet? Here are some videos that might do the trick: