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Colour, noise, passion, fanaticism, identity, belonging. Those are just some of the words that spring to mind when you think of football teams in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.
A hotbed of footballing culture
The South American nation lives and breathes football. It is a hotbed of culture and meaning when it comes to the beautiful game, as was depicted in all its glory late in 2022 when a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina side triumphed at the Qatar World Cup. It was the national team’s long-awaited first glory on the greatest stage since 1986 in Mexico when Diego Maradona was the icon.
Diego was then, and still is revered today as a hero, an idol and more. He may have passed away in 2020 but the legend lives on in the psyche of the Argentine nation, just as he does in Napoli, Italy. Maradona and Messi. Icons, idolised and immortal.
Underpinning the national love of the game and a strong international team is a fervent sense of patriotism and a deep-rooted football culture. Those elements give strength to the Argentinian domestic game which boasts a very competitive top league and several well-supported clubs of stature and prominence.
How many football teams in Buenos Aires?
The capital, Buenos Aires, is the bedrock of Argentinian football, with countless clubs coming from within the city and its wider metropolitan area. The traditional ‘big five’ of Boca Juniors, River Plate, Independiente, Racing Club and San Lorenzo make up the quintet and will be the focus of this article in further detail. In addition, there are nine clubs in the city itself, with a total of 23 in the greater Buenos Aires metropolis.
The Superclásico: Boca Juniors and River Plate
The biggest clash between the clubs is the grand derby, the Superclásico which is played out between Boca Juniors and River Plate.
The clubs share a deep-rooted rivalry which dates back over 100 years and is known to be one of world football's most intense.
To epitomise this, a great point of reference is the excellent Copa 90 documentary that captured the magic and madness of the Superclásico Copa Libertadores final in 2018.
As great and intense as that game is, Buenos Aires and Argentine football has so much more to offer.
Independiente, Racing, and San Lorenzo make up the rest of the Big Five with a substantial support base but below them, the fan base is strong in numbers and passionate.
List of Buenos Aires football stadiums
|Boca Juniors||La Bombonera||49,000|
|River Plate||El Monumental||84,567|
|Independiente||Estadio Libertadores de America||48,069|
|Racing Club||Estadio Presidente Peron||50,000|
|San Lorenzo||Estadio Pedro Bidegain||39,494|
|Huracan||Estadio Tomás Adolfo Ducó||48,314|
|Argentinos Juniors||Estadio Diego Armando Maradona||25,000|
|Vélez Sarsfield||José Amalfitani Stadium||45,540|
Note: Independiente and Racing Club are two of Argentina's biggest clubs. They are not in Buenos Aires city itself, but in the Greater Buenos Aires area.
Football teams in Buenos Aires: The legends
The Boca Juniors crowd boast of their widespread support in relation to their club. ‘La Mitad Mas Uno’ (half plus one) states that they are the biggest in Argentina backed by a majority of the population.
Their opponents prefer the tag ‘Bosteros’ (filth-dwellers), a derogatory reference to their working-class neighbourhood of La Boca where the club has belonged since the beginning in 1905. Boca’s heroes of the recent past include Martin Palermo, Carlos Tevez, Juan Roman Riquelme as well as Diego Maradona. Gabriel Batastuta and Claudio Caniggia both started their careers at La Bombonera, too.
River Plate had humble origins similar to their fierce rivals but soon moved out to the affluent area of Nunez, from where their Millonarios monicker was born, thanks to the bank balance that they enjoyed.
Despite holding the title of Argentina’s most decorated club, River were relegated in 2011, their first ever relegation, only to bounce back at the first time of asking with the formidable backing of their fans. Some favourites at the Monumental include Alfredo di Stefano, Hernan Crespo and Pablo Aimar. Gonzalo Higuain and Ariel Ortega also wore the famous red sash.
Independiente, currently under the leadership of ex-Boca man Carlos Tevez, are enjoying something of a resurgence at this stage of the season.
The ‘Diablos Rojos’ (Red Devils) have earned their place among the elite of Argentine football thanks to their cup exploits over the years. Fans of the Avellaneda club call themselves the ‘Rey de Copas’ (King of Cups), and they can back it up. They were the first Argentine club to lift the Copa Libertadores in 1964, and with seven victories, they are the most successful club on the continent in that competition.
Sergio Aguero launched his career here before finding fame and fortune in Europe thanks to his efforts on the pitch.
Racing has been in the wilderness for the best part of half a century with their last significant title recorded back in 1967.
They are sworn rivals with Independiente, with their stadiums positioned back to back, in each other's shadow and that of the big two in Buenos Aires. In their favour, the club is still producing talent which is making a breakthrough at the club and moving on to a bigger stage. Some of their recent favourite sons include Sergio Romero, Diego Milito and Lisandro Lopez.
Then there is San Lorenzo who has the ignominy as the only Big Five club not to have won the Copa Libertadores, as their city rivals like to remind them.
Continental glory has eluded them but they are not short of divine inspiration as they can count on Pope Francis, the first pontiff from the Americas, as one of their own. He is said to be a member of the club. Some of their famous faces include Ezequiel Lavezzi, Andrés D'Alessandro, Santiago Solari, and Pablo Zabaleta.
Other football teams in Buenos Aires
Also in Buenos Aires are Huracan, Argentinos Juniors and Vélez Sarsfield, three clubs with slightly smaller support and a lesser history of success. But if you're looking for the most authentic football fan experience in the Argentine capital, attending a game at one of these stadiums will give you it.
Football teams in Buenos Aires: How to get tickets
Tickets to see Boca Juniors are not readily available. There are ways and means but you will need to have contacts or pay a premium for a package.
The same can be said for River but to a lesser extent. For lesser games, or midweek matches in the early stages of the Copa Libertadores, tickets can be purchased at the stadium or online. The sheer size of El Monumental means there is greater availability than at the smaller La Bombanera.
For the other clubs, there isn’t likely to be a problem, except for the biggest fixtures. Do your research, and make plans but it is most likely that you will need to collect your tickets on the eve of the game, as they don't usually go on sale until days before the event.
Argentinian football is different to elsewhere. Embrace it and enjoy it, all of the idiosyncrasies, differences and madness that make Argentine football what it is. At its heart are the supporters and their authentic passion. Vamos!