The most intense football game this week will not be at the European finals in Portugal, but in Buenos Aires where Boca Juniors meet River Plate in the semi-final of the Copa Libertadores (the South American equivalent of the UEFA champions league). In fact the authorities have banned visiting fans from each leg.
My Dad and I went to several Boca—River matches when we lived in BA in the 1970s. I remember one at the huge tiered River stadium in particular. I was probably about 12 at the time. We were in the posh seats and there was the usual mayhem going on above us (fires, fighting, etc). Suddenly, everyone rushed out of their seats. We looked up and one fan was clinging onto the edge of the tier 30 feet above us with another guy bashing his hands. Fortunately one of his mates managed to drag him back and we could all resume our places, every once in a while casting furtive glances upwards to see whether we were about to be flattened by a descending fan.
As we left the game, one of the police horses that were keeping the fans apart panicked and started a stampede. Within 30 seconds I found myself completely alone and it took me 20 long, long minutes to find my Dad in the melée.
Boca v River has everything you could possible want from a game. History, colour, drama and a political subtext (working-class Boca versus aristocratic River). It is the greatest local derby game in the world.