Copa Libertadores saga at its final hurdle

09 December 2018 - 00:00 By Reuters

Plagued by chaos, irony and protest, the Copa Libertadores will finally be decided in Madrid today by Argentine clubs River Plate and Boca Juniors.
The match has been moved across continents from Buenos Aires after River Plate fans attacked Boca's team bus before the original fixture was postponed two weeks ago.
The ambush of Boca's team bus last month was compared to an incident in 2015 when a Boca fan attacked River's players with pepper spray in a Libertadores game at Boca's Bombonera stadium.
Yet violence has long gripped the fixture, dating back to the first official meeting between the two sides in 1913, when a newspaper report at the time referred to "pugilistic scenes".
Mass brawls between players continue to break out in the fixture, even during pre-season friendlies, such as in 2016, when a total of five players were sent off.
And it gets worse when players switch sides. Oscar Ruggeri crossed the divide from Boca to River in 1985 and was the victim of a vicious knee-high lunge during a game from his old teammate Roberto Passucci. That pales in comparison, however, to the treatment Ruggeri received from Boca's supporters, who set fire to his house.
River and Boca are the two biggest and most successful teams in Argentina. River boast a record 36 league titles, but Boca are catching up, winning three of the last four to move on to 33.
Boca have won six Libertadores titles to River's three, and victory at the Bernabeu would see them join Independiente as the side to have won the most continental titles in South America.

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