Robbie Blakeley went to Buenos Aires to see Boca Juniors and River Plate overcome Brazilian clubs in the Copa Libertadores
“Look mate, you’re going to need to sit in the front. If you sit back there it’s obvious I’m an Uber car and some taxi drivers could kick the shit out of me. It happened to someone I know about a week ago.” Such an overwrought arrival at EZE airport on 23 October was a strangely fitting prelude to two big, dramatic days of football in Buenos Aires. The semi-final draw for the Copa Libertadores – South America’s answer to the Champions League – had thrown up two huge games featuring four mammoth clubs and the tension was palpable across the city.
The rivalry between South America’s two greatest football nations is well established, thanks in no small part to their success in the Copa Libertadores. Argentinian clubs have won the competition 24 times, with Brazilian sides further back on 18, and they were about to go head-to-head in the semi-finals.