River Plate, Boca Juniors
River and Boca fans cheering their team's before another 'Superclásico'; away fans have been banned from attending matches in Argentine soccer since 2013 AFP

SEATTLE - A rivalry like no other, this weekend River Plate and Boca Juniors will once again be face to face for the 261st edition of Argentina's 'Superclásico,' the fiercest rivalry in sports in the Americas and one of the most passionate in the world.

American sports fans may be used to strong rivalries on and off the field. The sports feud between the cities of Boston and New York, old-school football battles between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers and even the great animosity between historic universities at the collegiate level, none of them come close to how Boca and River fans live their rivalry.

This weekend, it will be the 261st chapter written in this long-storied affair in all sorts of competitions, with Boca Juniors leading the head-to-head with 91 wins total to River Plate's 86. The match on Feb. 25 will be the 15th time both Argentine giants face each other in cup competitions, with the 'Millonario' winning five of the previous 14. The blue and gold have only won two such games against River, while seven draws complete the set.

The 'Xeneizes' will try to end their current two-game losing streak against their bitter rivals when they visit River Plate's Estadio Monumental. They have not lost three straight in the rivalry in more than 40 years, when River won three in a row between 1984-86.

Knowing what 'fútbol' means to Argentines, it is hard to put into words what this rivalry means to River and Boca fans. It has reached such levels of hatred towards the other team and passion for your own colors that some games have had to be suspended, interrupted by fights and other surreal incidents.

The latest example of this was in 2023, when a fight broke out during the game and seven players ended up being sent off by the referee. The 'Xeneizes' had to finish the league game against River with eight players while the 'Millonario' had a two-man advantage for the remainder of the game. In the last 28 'Superclásicos', referees have shown an astonishing 21 red cards.

Copa Libertadores final in Madrid

In 2018, River and Boca reached the continental final for the first time ever, and as expected, it was packed with passion and chaos. After a 2-2 draw in the first leg at 'La Bombonera,' the Argentine giants were to decide the Libertadores champion at River's Estadio Monumental.

As the Boca Juniors' team bus arrived at the venue, River Plate fans threw rocks and other projectiles at the windows, injuring some of the players in the process. After hours of uncertainty, the game was called off and later moved to the Spanish capital.

Pablo Perez, Boca Juniors
Pablo Pérez was one of the Boca Juniors players injured during the incident skysports.com

Rescheduled to be played on Dec. 9, 2018 at the legendary Santiago Bernabéu, River Plate defeated their archrivals in extra time to claim their fourth Copa Libertadores trophy. It remains as one of just four occassions that both teams faced each other in a cup final (River leads the head-to-head 3-1 in such games).

River Plate, Copa Libertadores
River Plate was crowned champions of the 2018 Copa Libertadores thanks to a 3-1 win over archrivals Boca Juniors. Juan Fernando Quintero (109') scored the go-ahead goal for the 'Millonarios' Reuters

Pepper spray incident

In 2015, a Round of 16 Copa Libertadores tie was interrupted due to a fan using pepper spray on River Plate players. As both teams made their way back on to the pitch to finish the 2nd leg of the tie, River Plate players were attacked by Adrián 'El Panadero' Napolitano, a Boca Juniors ultra that sprayed pepper gas in an attempt to "intimidate them."

A few days later, CONMEBOL authorities decided to disqualify Boca Juniors and River advanced to the Quarterfinals. The 'Xeneizes' also had to pay a fine of $200,000 and recieved a two-game ban without fans in international competitions.

River Plate, Boca Juniors
Boca Juniors were disqualified of the 2015 Copa Libertadores due to the pepper spray incident; River Plate ended up winning the title against Mexican team Tigres UANL Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

Flags and chaos at Mar del Plata

The 'Superclásico' of the Copa Revancha 2002 turned out to be a fatidic day after a massive brawl broke out in the stands as Boca Juniors defeated River Plate 4-0. The issue originated when River Plate fans stole flags from a Boca Juniors supporter section the months prior to the 'Superclásico' in 2002. In their attempt to get revenge, 'Xeneize' fans decided to do the same thing and displayed 14 stolen flags during the Copa Revancha 2002 matchup.

With tensions rising, River Plate fans invaded the stands where Boca Juniors' ultras were located, creating total chaos that ended up with massive brawls all over the stadium, the match suspended and a casualty of a Boca Juniors fan in the surrounding areas of the Mar del Plata venue.

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