When it comes to passion for football, there are arguably fewer continents that can compete with South America for sheer fervour. One of the most passionate rivalries in the world club game is that of Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors and River Plate.
Some claim that the Buenos Aires derby, the Superclasico, is the biggest derby in the world. Numerous British publications have written about the encounter furthering the claim. The Superclasico is unique and is made all the more special because, reportedly, 70 per cent of all football fans in the South American country support one of the Buenos Aires pair.
The origins of the clubs
Both Boca and River Plate clubs originated from the working-class dockland area of La Boca, Buenos Aires. River Plate was founded in 1901, while Boca came along four years later in 1905.
In 1925, River relocated to the wealthy neighbourhood of Nunez in the city’s northern area. As a result, Boca Juniors became recognized as the team for Argentina’s working-class citizens or “the people’s club,”.
Neither club had won the national championship by 1913, and neither hinted at how successful and popular the pair would become in the Argentinian football fans’ psyche.
In fact, at that point, the biggest rivalry between two Argentinian clubs was between Alumni and Belgrano, who were both from Belgrano. Racing Club de Avellaneda also gained national recognition around that time, as they won the national title in seven straight seasons.
However, in 1908 the Boca-River rivalry became prominent when the two teams met for the first friendly game between the pair. Their first official meeting did not come until 1913, when River recorded a 2-1 victory at the Racing Club Stadium on August 24th.
Since the first game, the rivalry has only grown, with the passion often being taken too far off the pitch with violence occurring between the two sets of fans. The game is notorious for being a fiery affair both on and off the pitch.
The Superclasico head-to-head record
The pair have met 258 times in the Superclasico since that fateful first official meeting, with Boca slightly shading the overall head-to-head record, picking up 91 wins compared to River’s 85.
Please note that the pair have played other competitive games, but our table shows the games in the Primera Division only.
|The Primera Division
Here is the record of the two team’s meetings in CONMEBOL competitions.
Superclasico match records
Over the years, the Superclasico has produced some thrilling encounters. The games have often produced lots of goals. The highest-scoring game in the fixture’s history came in October 1972, as River Plate swept to a 5-4 victory. The next highest-scoring derby came in 1957, as River recorded a 5-3 win over Boca.
Over the years, there have also been three matches that have produced 5-2 scorelines, two for Boca Juniors and one for River Plate, with all results coming on Boca’s home turf.
The biggest margin of victory in the Superclasico came in December 1928, when Boca Juniors recorded a 6-0 win. Since that fixture, Boca Juniors have recorded two 5-1 wins, and River Plate has also won by the scoreline once in the Superclasico.
Player records in the Superclasico
With over a century of games, it is unsurprising that many players built up a good record of appearances in the local derby. The player who holds the record for Superclasico appearances, however, is River Plate midfielder Reinaldo Merlo, who, in his 15-year career with Los Millonarios, made 42 derby appearances.
Former-Argentinian international goalkeeper Hugo Gatti is second on the highest appearance list, having made 38 appearances in the Superclasico. He actually played for both Boca and River in the derby.
With the Superclasico often producing so many goals, it’s unsurprising that some players have been prolific in the fixture. The player who holds the record for most Superclasico goals is Angel Labruna, who scored 16 goals in the fixture for River Plate.
Another former River Plate winger, Oscar Mas, is second on the list, having fired home 12 goals in the Superclasico. Boca’s record goalscorer in the fixture is Brazilian forward Paulo Valentim, who scored ten times in the derby.
The passion will never die for the Superclasico
Without a doubt, the Superclasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate is one of the brightest, liveliest and most fiercely contested derbies in the game’s history. The fans of both clubs will never let that passion die, and the rivalry will no doubt live for a long time to come.