Gre-nal... the most Argentinian clash in Brazil

Down there in the South, there’s a small part of Brazil whose football was forged in the traditional Argentinian mould – a hard, physical game with strength over skills.

It’s the Rio Grande do Sul state, and it has their own Boca-River-like die-hard hate rivalry: welcome to Grêmio vs Internacional, or simply Gre-nal as the clash between the two giants of Porto Alegre city is nicknamed.

With both teams recording decent results in recent years – Internacional won the 2006 Copa Libertadores and the Fifa World Club Championship against Barcelona, while Grêmio lost to Boca Juniors in the final of the 2007 tournament – the rivalry from the pampas has become even more fierce.

This Sunday, they will face each other in the Internacional’s Beira-Rio Stadium in the 373th Gre-nal since 1909. And, again, there’s a lot at stake.

Tournament punters Grêmio are defending a lead at the top that seems to be slipping away. A couple of weeks ago, they were seven points clear; now they’re just one.

On the other hand, Internacional, who started the championship in poor shape, have finally woken up – too late to win the title, but with time to still chase a Libertadores spot. They’re currently 11th, but there's just four points between themselves and 4th!

Winning and knocking their crosstown rivals off the top of the table... it doesn’t get much better for Internacional fans.

That’s why 45,000 people are expected to be at Beira-Rio, almost all of them Internacional fans, who will paint the stadium red. Visitors Grêmio received only 2,900 tickets.

I know you’re looking forward to my usually flawless prediction. Tell your bookie then: Internacional to win 2-1. Argentinian D’Alessandro will net the winner for the Colorado.

PS: Before our neighbours from the South get angry, of course there’s talent and skill there. Ronaldinho Gaúcho's name is based on the word gaúcho - how the Rio Grande do Sul natives are known.To pay a tribute to him, look what the ace did in Gre-nal here, for Grêmio.

In both incidents, the humiliated opponent was... Dunga. Yep. The national team coach also hails from Rio Grande do Sul.

Enough said.

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