Know Thy Classics: My Cup Runneth Over

Independiente fans doing their thing.

Clearly, the fixture gods of South American footie care not for opening weekend of the English Premier League, much to my chagrin. Instead of covering one clásico for you this week, I’ve got to run down three. So find a comfy chair, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in. We’re headed to Sao Paulo, Brazil, first.

Clássico Alvinegro

The Black and White Derby pits two Brazilian giants: Santos and Corinthians. Both clubs hail from Sao Paulo, and both clubs wear black and white kits. Hence the name of the derby. Wouldn’t want to complicate things too much, right?

Santos was named the South American club of the 20th century thanks largely to the Pelé era of the sixties when they won everything ever multiple times. Corinthians, meanwhile, is considered the second most popular club in all of Brazil (behind Rio’s Flamengo).

This rivalry dates back a century to 1913, when Santos beat Corinthians 6-3 on the road. However, Corinthians has the historical edge, with 123 wins to Santos’ 97. Both clubs have been doing well lately, though neither is doing well in this year’s Brasileirao league. Santos won the Copa Libertadores last year and currently enjoys the services of potential future legends in Neymar and Ganso. Corinthians won the Copa Libertadores this year after eliminating Santos in the semifinal, which is pretty awesome. Check the clip below. It’s hair-raising.

Sunday’s derby is more for bragging rights than anything the 3 points could do for either club’s position in the league, but still a classic Brazilian soccer party worth witnessing. I’m not sure if any soccer channels here have the Brazilian league, but there’s always the internet.

Racing’s stadium is the giant round latrine on the right.

Clásico de Avellaneda

Off to Argentina for that country’s second biggest derby. Avellaneda is a working class town that has long since been absorbed into the greater Buenos Aires metropolis. The city’s two oldest and biggest clubs are Independiente and Racing Club. Their stadia are located just a scant 900 feet apart. The rivalry dates back to 1907, when Independiente defeated Racing 3-2 with a Fergie time winner from club founder Rosendo Degiorgi. Independiente also has the historical edge, with 69 wins over Racing’s 50. Both clubs have had success internationally, and this is one of the few rivalries in which both clubs have won a world club championship (I’m guessing Barsa-Madrid and Inter-Milan would be the others).

This is the match I will be following very closely tomorrow, as a diehard Independiente fan who grew up watching Los Diablos Rojos. The first pro soccer game I ever attended was at Independiente’s Estadio Libertadores de America, way back in 1990. There is absolutely no love lost between Independiente and Racing fans. This is one of the fiercest rivalries in world soccer, and things often get ugly. Neither team has been doing terribly well this year, but that’s irrelevant when it comes to the derby.

In a friendly last month at Racing’s Cilindro stadium that was played without visiting fans, a handful of Independiente pranksters managed to sell red smoke bombs to the Racing fans, changing the labels so they said Blue or White (Racing’s colors). When Racing fans lit the bombs at the start of the match, they realized what had happened and had to hurry and stamp out the remaining lit fuses. Fun times.

One crazy AN fan. That’s not body paint, it’s a tattoo.

Clásico de Colombia

Finally, back to Colombia for their biggest derby. This one is unique in that it’s not a crosstown rivalry, but more of a historical rivalry due to the success of both Millonarios and Atlético Nacional. Millonarios has 13 league titles, while Atlético Nacional has 11 league titles. Similar to Real Madrid v Barcelona, or Man Utd v Liverpool. They are also, understandably, the two most popular clubs in the country.

Millonarios has won this derby 94 times, to Nacional’s 67. In Colombia, Millonarios fans are known as rolos (natives of Bogotá) while Atlético Nacional fans are paisas (from Medellin). That’s trivial information but it might come in handy for you if you ever find yourself having dinner at a Colombian joint.

Tomorrow’s match finds Millonarios at the top of the table with three wins in three games in Liga Postobón 2012. Atlético, on the other hand, have two draws and a loss for fourteenth place. My money’s on Millonarios.

So that’s it. I’ll be back next week with another Brazilian derby.

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