What are the sporting things everyone should do before they die?
The Observer newspaper asked this question in 2004 as part of its 50th birthday celebrations. The resulting league table listed 50 unforgettable experiences.
At the top was the Argentinian Superclasico, Boca v River, a match described as "a riot of colour, noise and energy." This is a match that divides the sky-blue and white country in two; a collective trance and national ritual, which continues to fascinate the world.
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On one side we have the blue and yellow strips of a club with working class roots, embodied by the figure of Diego Maradona. On the other, an elegant red diagonal stripe and a club that has offered the world so many artists: Alfredo Di Stefano, Omar Sivori (Golden Ball 1961) and Enzo Francescoli, to name but a few.
La Bonbonera (the chocolate box) may be the most emblematic stadium in the world, but the Estadio Monumental is Argentina's biggest, with a capacity of 68,000. Inside these two footballing cathedrals we find confetti, Dantesque tifos and secular hymns sung to the point of exhaustion. The Boca v River match, with its foundations of excellence and unsurpassed fervour, has risen to the top of the Superclasico hierarchy.
A clasico always begins as a clash between two worlds. However, Club Atletico River Plate and Club Atletico Boca Juniors, to give them their full names, both have their origins in same area at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Boca docklands area was populated by Italian immigrants, many from Genoa, hence the origin of the nickname 'Xeneize', by which the fans of the blue and yellows are known. But, for these unruly neighbours, cohabitation was never going to last long. When River Plate left Boca to settle in the more upmarket areas north of Buenos Aires, the clubs developed their distinct identities.
The opposition between these nascent footballing giants became a duel between working class Buenos Aires and the slightly more affluent fan base of the Millionarios (millionaires), River Plate's nickname. Over time the sociological boundaries have slowly dissolved, but the rivalry remains. The confrontation between the country's two best-supported clubs has become, internationally, a symbol of the unique intensity of Argentinian football, and particularly of football in Buenos Aires, where there are fourteen top division clubs.

Argentina derby, superclasico River Plate vs Boca Junior

Image credit: Eurosport

The first professional match between the two clubs took place in 1931.
The match was suspended when, with the score at 1-1, three River Plate players were sent off, but refused to leave the pitch. The tone was set. The event would be a conflict between gladiators, spurred on by their supporters.
However, this fixture is more than just a battle and is also remembered for the class of some of its participants, who have contributed a great deal to its prestige. Boca have perhaps produced fewer big names, but those names are profoundly Argentinian.
There is Maradona, of course, but also Juan Roman Riquelme and Carlos Tevez, known as 'the people's player', who decided to leave Juventus in the summer of 2015 to return home and defend his club's colours. When Tevez was presented to La Bonbonera in front of 50,000 people Maradona had made an effort to be there and, from his box, was hung a banner thanking El Apache for coming back. Boca Juniors has a culture of the man of providence, which is demonstrated on a national level in the country's fascination for General Juan Peron, president of Argentina in 1946-1955 and 1973-1974.
The bosteros (an uncomplimentary nickname which refers, according to popular myth, to the smell of excrement which perfumed the Boca region when it was flooded) fans are proud to support a team that knows how to play key matches, as witnessed by the six Copa Libertadores decorating the trophy cabinet.

Argentina derby, superclasico River Plate vs Boca Junior

Image credit: Eurosport

River Plate, who can only lay claim to three South American champion's league victories (1986, 1996 and 2015), have inherited the nickname of 'gallina', or 'chickens', after losing the final of the Libertadores against the Uruguayans of Penarol in 1966 after leading 2-0.
The Millionarios have a tradition of winning in style and we should not forget the excellence of their football academy, which has produced so many unforgettable talents: Di Stefano, Hernan Crespo, Ramon Diaz, Ariel Ortega, Javier Mascherano, Pablo Aimar and Gonzalo Higuain. The Millionarios also introduced Radamel Falcao, Marcelo Salas and Enzo Francescoli (Zinedine Zidane's idol and current manager of River Plate) to the world.
At River Plate the tradition of the beautiful game became entrenched following the exploits of La Maquina, the revolutionary flamboyant team, which dominated football in the 1940s. La Maquina, lead by the attacking quintet of Carlos Munoz, Adolfo Pedernera, Angel Labruna (River's all time top goalscorer), Felix Loustau and José Manuel Moreno, a player idolized by Alfredo Di Stefano, foreshadowed the Real Madrid of Di Stefano himself in Europe. A dream team whose reputation went far beyond the frontiers of its own country.

Alfredo Di Stefano avec le Real Madrid en 1960

Image credit: Panoramic

On Sunday, in the Monumental stadium, the teams' reception will reach fever pitch. The supporters will experience a moment of collective hysteria.
When foreigners think of the duel between the two giants of Argentinian football (35 league titles for River and 24 for Boca), they think of Boca's home ground, the Alberto J Armando stadium, know as La Bonbonera. An infernal box with almost vertical stands where the 'twelfth man', an expression that Boca can claim to have fathered, exercises all his power.
"When we say that the ground of the Bonbonera trembles, it is not an expression, but a reality", stated the former River play, Hernan Crespo, to ESPN.
The first time I played here I thought my legs were trembling, but they weren't.
According to Cesar Luis Menotti, Argentinian manager for the 1978 world cup, "the Bonbonera is a superb theatre, like the La Scala in Milan or the Opéra de Paris." Today, for tourists and football fans alike, Boca's stadium is a visitor attraction in the same league as the Avenida 9 de Julio or the neighbourhood of San Telmo.
According to the Conmebol, the two best clubs in South America have met 197 times since the beginning of the professional era, with 72 wins for Boca Juniors, 63 for River Plate and 62 draws. This rich and tumultuous history provides many anecdotes, such as the Superclasico of 10 April 1981, Maradona's first goal, a marvel of poise triggered by a control as exquisite as it was acrobatic.
Then, 16 years later on 25 October 1997, El Pibe de Oro played his last Superclasico and the last match of his career. Boca would win 1-2 on River's territory, but Maradona would leave the pitch at half-time to be replaced by Juan Roman Riquelme, his successor in the hearts of the Xeneizes.
River's highlights include the stinging victory of 11 December 1994 (0-3), a game that left its mark on the game play of the club with the diagonal red stripe. The three goals at the Bonbonera were scored by three numbers 10s: Enzo Francescoli, Marcelo Gallardo and Ariel Ortega.
Today, thanks to the impoverished state of Argentinian football, the Superclasicos have been deprived of a great deal of talent, with the exception of Carlos Tévez. But when the two teams walk onto the pitch, the recibimiento (reception) prepared by the 'hinchas millionarios' will remind them, even before the whistle blows, why River v Boca continues to fascinate and is watched all over the globe.

River Plate's Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires (Reuters)

Image credit: Eurosport

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