The Copa Libertadores – Your gateway to South American football

South American domestic football rarely makes headlines outside of its home continent. But this time the stakes are bigger than ever, arguably bigger than any final to have taken place on European shores in recent memory.

The Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League is coming to it’s grand finale, and this year is like no other.

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What’s so special about this year’s final is that it’s the first ever all-Argentinian affair in the history of the competition. Even better, it’ll be contested by arguably the fiercest rivalry in world football, known colloquially as the Superclásico.

Buenos Aires based Boca Juniors and River Plate, the bitterest of rivals, will contest two ties (home and away) on 10 and 24 November. The victor will be crowned champions South America. The defeated will walk away with nothing, and the shame of losing to their closest rival will be palpable.

The problem is, not many football fans outside of South America know a lot about the tie, let alone the Copa Libertadores. That’s why it’s useful to consult a specially dedicated Superclásico betting preview to give you everything you need to know about the match up.

But what is it that makes the Boca Juniors-River Plate rivalry so fantastic that it’s consistently been touted by a number of European-based publications like the The Daily Telegraph, FourFourTwo and The Daily Mirror as the number one derby in the world? It regularly even ranks ahead of the El Clásico derby between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

A Boca-River final couldn’t be more fitting for the last edition of the two-legged Libertadores finals. Next year it will be changed to a single tie. The first will be played at Boca’s La Bombonera stadium on 10 November, and the second leg further uptown at River’s El Monumental. Both are seething cauldrons of fan fury, the likes of which many European stadium’s could only dream of.

In fact, the last time the two met in the Libertadores round of 16 three years ago the first leg was also held at Boca’s home ground. There was to be no second bout. A section of the Boca ultras managed to pierce a hole in the protective material that shields the away players from the crowd, only to let in homemade tear gas that sent a number of River players to hospital.

The game was called off, Boca were banned, and much to their chagrin, River went on to lift the Copa Libertadores that year. It’s no wonder away fans have been banned from both matches.

The rivalry between the two teams is even deeper set than that. Contested over nearly 250 ties from 1913, with Boca just pipping River to the mantle for most victories, the hatred for each other is so entrenched it encompasses even social boundaries.

Life for both teams started in the nitty gritty area down by the Buenos Aires docks. River eventually moved northwards to the more well-heeled area of the northern suburbs of the city, earning them the title “Los Millonaros” (The Millionaires). Boca stayed and still reside in a poorer area, challenging their brethren for the honour of team of the people.

So we begin to see that when a final of such magnitude in its own right is coupled with a seething rivalry at the last hurdle, it’s primed to be potentially explosive.

Such is the interest that’s being garnered by the tie that it’s turning people’s heads across the globe, with betting companies and punters alike scrambling to take part in the action. The Copa Libertadores final will be beamed to a global audience, and if you feel like betting on the match, it would be worth your while to visit this site to compare and choose a welcome bonus or sign-up offer.

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It’d be easy to make comparisons with the Champions League, but the fact that both competitions feature the best teams in their respective continents is pretty much where the similarities end. The Copa Libertadores is something wholly different.

The competition is the pinnacle of South American football and throws together the best the continent has to offer. It’s seen by those who follow it as more unpredictable, more competitive, and simply more passionate.

Brazilian football expert Marcelo Caldas lives in Lisbon but has for many years followed his beloved Flamengo around South America in search of Libertadores glory. For a man who has also experienced many a Champions League night at Benfica’s Estádio da Luz, he is perfectly poised to contrast the two competitions.

Of the Champions League he states “without a doubt, the football that’s played in Europe is much more technical, much more showy – but something is missing.” When he speaks of the Libertadores he says, “each year we’re surprised with teams that we never heard about making great campaigns.” Indeed the story of the underdog is deeply woven into the fabric of the Libertadores.

Caldas will tell you mesmerising tails of Flamengo playing in the Libertadores under the floodlights of Rio’s famous Maracanã, but he knows that Argentina is something else all together. When travelling to River’s El Monumental for a Libertadores tie in 2009 he says “here I was able to live the Libertadores in its true nature: the chaos to buy the tickets, confusion at the entrance, Argentine fans who cannot stop singing for one second. They’re crazy, and I’m a Flamengo fan!”

The Copa Libertadores, to put it simply, is an obsession for South American football fans and the teams they follow. It’s incomparable to any other footballing experience, and a Superclásico final is the absolute pinnacle.

The game is a tough one to call, and if you find yourself in need then check out this betting tip ahead of the final. The tie is tight, the stakes are high ,and River drew the last blood winning 0-2 at Boca back in September. But incredibly no home team has won in the last six derbies!

This is a landmark tie, a watershed moment. Just because it’s being played thousands of miles from home don’t let yourself miss out on the passion and unpredictability of South America’s Copa Libertadores in it’s finest hour. It has something for every football fan and after this you’ll be hooked.

By Adam Grimshaw

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