BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Gonzalo Raffo is a strong fan of Boca Juniors. His wife, Delfina Foramitti, was passionately rooted in River Plate.
They watch every football match together wearing colors from clubs known to have one of the most intense competitions in the world. Sometimes they bet: whoever loses has to do all the homework. The winner must be relaxed. They also mock each other. Sometimes, rubbish talks become so hot at home that they will end up in an argument. But the stakes are higher than before.
This is the first time Argentina's two biggest teams will meet in the Copa Libertadores final, the equivalent of the South American Champions League. Like many Argentines, married couples agree that the last is only history. But they are also worried that the two clubs that share one nation can also share their own families.
"This is more intense than the World Cup," Foramitti said, sitting next to her husband on a white couch where they were religiously competing on TV.
"Of course I'm nervous because I'm a big fan of River, but I'm more worried because the plates will fly in this house (if Boca loses) and I can't take the bad mood."
Raffo said: "As long as Boca wins, nothing will happen!" He said, laughing.
Think Red Sox vs. Yankees, Celtics vs. Lakers and Barcelona vs. Real Madrid are all combined into one, and you still might not do it fairly.
"Think of the two biggest teams playing in the Super Bowl and that will still be half of this. Argentina are angry about football and these are Argentina's two biggest clubs, "Raffo said.
The couple felt silent, and then reflected, "This will be a new country the next day," he said, earnestly. "I would say this can destroy the family. Divorce is on the phone, "he said, half jokingly.
The first leg will be played on Saturday at the Boca home stadium, an intimidating place known as "La Bombonera" – "The Chocolate Box" – because of its tightly closed shape that looks like boxes stacked on top of each other. The second leg will be held on November 24 at River & Monumental de Nunez Stadium, where Argentina won the first World Cup in 1978.
"Every Boca-River game is important but this is really the game of the century," said Carlos Zinola, 70, who has owned the Don Carlos restaurant in front of the Boca stadium for almost 50 years and who has attended countless derbies. . "This is eternal glory for winners or failures that sound for losers."
Visiting fans will not be permitted in both matches because of fear of violence. It's been like that since 2013 and not even a request from Argentine President Mauricio Macri, former president of Boca, can change it. But that did not make Macri give his view as a Boca fan. He said he would need "20 years" to recover from defeat, and he even heated up the game when he was recently called the coach of the River Marcelo Gallardo in a vulgar term.
Competition is everywhere: A new husband named Enzo "River Plate" is Bejarano. Cardiologists warn of games that can be too dangerous for people with weak hearts. A man reportedly said he was ready to delay his marriage because it coincided with the game. One more prepared for the final by painting the dog with the club color.
An unconfirmed report said Russian President Vladimir Putin would arrive before the G20 meeting planned in Buenos Aires so he could witness the final that Argentine media had called "The Game of the Century."
The most successful Argentine teams came from the docks in the working class neighborhood of Buenos Aires south of La Boca and their rivalry began in the early 20th century.
Boca was founded by a group of Italian immigrants who chose the colors of the blue and yellow clubs after the Swedish flag that arrived at the port. River, with white shirts and diagonal red lines, moved to a prosperous neighborhood in the north during the start of the league. Exciting derby battles, with passionate fans and colorful celebrations, were once ranked by the British newspaper The Observer in the top of 50 sports you have to do before you die.
"It's like having a child – you will never leave a child," said Matias Chamorro, 33, a River hardcore fan who posed for a picture showing a club tattoo on his right shoulder while he paid his monthly club fees at the stadium ahead of the match. "You save money to eat, pay for electricity and gas (natural) bills, and you come to watch River."