04.02.2017 - 04.02.2017 21 °C
There have been a number of key places and events during this trip that have been towards the top of the “to do” list. One of them has been to attend a South American Soccer (or “Futbol”) game.
As part of the trip I had said to my sons that they could join us anywhere on the trip for a fortnight and, because of University commitments, this meant either South America or Africa. They both chose South America and arrived on 29th January 2017 into Buenos Aires.
I’d been doing a bit of googling to find out if there was someone who ran organised trips to South American soccer games, and Landingplace BA came up and, after checking them out, they seemed ok. They said there was a game on Saturday 4th February, and I thought “All good”. Price was a bit expensive, but hey, when will the opportunity come up again ?
Alas the day before Michael, who had developed Chronic Fatigue in May 2015, had a big “dip” in his energy levels and couldn’t come. He was ok but needed to rest. After 21 months, whilst he’d recovered about 90%, if he overdid things, as he had done with Iguazu Falls, it caused a dip. So Mike stayed back in the hotel and rested.
Alex and I headed off to the meeting point, the Bierlife pub in San Telmo, a hip, older, slightly grungy area of Buenos Aires at 5 o’clock, and met up with Nacho, our guide for the game, at 5.30 pm. The match was scheduled to kick off at 9.30 pm.
Bierlife Pub – San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It was then that it started to become clear that this was not a “normal” Argentinian soccer game we were going to. The Lonely Planet says that “Whilst rugby, tennis, etc are popular in Argentina, soccer is an obsession.” It goes on to say, particularly for those Brits/ Poms out there, “the national team has twice won the World Cup, once in 1978 and again in 1986 after Diego Amando Maradona (Argentina’s bad boy, rags-to-riches soccer star) surreptitiously punched in a goal to beat England in the quarter finals”. All Brits/ Poms know this by the phrase, I believe, that Maradona used, “the Hand of God”. The quarter final was only 4 years after the Falklands War between the UK and Argentina so was, needless to say, a bit of a grudge match.
Maradona’s “Hand of God”. (Yes he got away with it…..)
In Argentina, they have a league of teams, much the same as the UK. At the end of the season there is a team that comes out on top and are the League Champions. Also similarly to the UK, they have the Argentinian Cup, similar to FA Cup. However, a couple of years ago the Argentinian Soccer league introduced the “Supercopa”, the Supercup, where the League champions played the Argentinian Cup winners. This year it was River Plate (winners of the Copa Argentina) vs Lanus (winners of the League).
So it turned out that the Futbol game we were going to see was the Supercopa ! Nice !
At about 6.30 pm, Nacho got us onto the minibus heading out the stadium in La Plata, about 1 hour from Buenos Aires. He gave us a run down on the game; we were in the section of the stadium for the Lanus fans. An email had come out prior to the game saying we should not wear t shirts with Red on them (the River Plate Colours) and instead should wear Burgundy. Or if not, white.
The red and white River Plate strip[/I
[i]The Lanus kit
Now, I’ve seen police before, but this was a whole different level. We passed through 3 or 4 check points and passed another half a dozen groups of police cars on the side of the freeway.
We parked about a kilometre from the stadium and walked in through the rain. Through the police identification point, the pat down section, and on to the stadium. Alex and I stuck together like glue and kept very close to Nacho. Getting lost now would not have been a good situation. We had been warned. There were hundreds of Police in riot gear. They even had the dogs.
In the Australian way, I thought being in the Lanus section meant that that was where mostly Lanus fans sat. No, no, no. The fans are separated by 12 foot fences topped with razor wire. We’d been told to leave valuables at home. I was expecting it to be really rough. I was very glad that I’d paid for the guide, the minibus, and, most importantly the knowledge, to minimise the risk.
So now, what was it like ? Well, take a look. The fans go off like a frog in sock. They are very enthusiastic. Fanatical. Both River Plate and Lanus had their own band; drums, horn section, and of course, 25,000 screaming fans.
The Lanus fans.
The River Plate Fans
Alas, I wanted to upload a video here but it seems a bit tricky for me. But if you go to the youtube address further down it will give you a good sense of just how loud it was !
Alex and me at the game
First half, River Plate had the lions share of the attacking opportunities but it was nil all at the end of the first half (45 minutes for those uninitiated in the joys of Futbol). Then the 15 minute half time break. Then the second half. Nothing for the first 20 minutes. Lanus had stepped up however.
Then 23 minutes into the second half, Lanus #7, Acosta scored ! The crowd went nuts ! Take a look at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsbRaTIQxro) to see the goal. Nice. (Just scroll through the timer until you get about 23 minutes into the second half).
12 minutes later, a fabulous pass, and a header from Pasquini made it 2-0 to Lanus. Go into the link above, the commentary is brilliant !
The Lanus crowd was very happy !
Then at 41 minutes, a foul by a River Plate player in the Penalty Area. Lanus had a penalty.
Sand put it in the back of the net to make it 3 – 0 ! That was the final score about 11.20 pm.
An amazing game and atmosphere.
Then something very Argentinian. The Lanus crowd stayed, of course, for the awards ceremony. That took about 20 minutes. Well, the Lanus fans actually had to stay in the stadium because the exits had been closed by the police ! So as to reduce the chance of any Argy Bargy, the police kept the exits closed until 12.30 am ish to allow the River Plate fans to leave ! By which time it was throwing it down with rain. It took until 1 am for us to walk to the Minibus and at 2.15 am we were dropped at our hostel.
A fantastic night. A brilliant result. Alex loved it, and Mike is recovering well from his “dip”.
Yes, the Argentinians are obsessed by Futbol.