La Bombonera: Old Trafford on acid
It features in every '646 things to do before you become worm food' list. It is on the itinerary of every visit to Latin America. Machu Piccu. Tick. Guinea pig for lunch. Tick. Football game in Buenos Aires. Tick.
There is nothing I have ever experienced, including visits to derbies for FourFourTwo, to Paraguay, Colombia, Chile and Siberia (well obviously nothing like Siberia Ã¢ÂÂ that was a trip dominated by a whiff of vodka and lunacy).
Seeing a game in Buenos Aires is a visceral, enlightening, exciting and thrilling experience. And then go see Boca at La Bombonera and multiply it by 12. Once you've figured out the entrance, been frisked by chain smoking police men with shotguns, head up into the terrace and be prepared to be blown away in a frenzy of drumming, trumpets, screaming, shouting from a leaping crowd: the barra brava.
Their fanaticism, fuelled mainly by various narcotics and wine from a box, is an incredible sight. The thronging mass will attract attention more than the game on the pitch. But even the games are always interesting.
I haven't done any empirical research, but I would wager my season ticket to Argentinos Juniors, (granted, not too much money by the time pesos are converted to pounds) that there are more red cards than anywhere else in the world. Coupled with the selfish individual skill that is prized in Argentine football , and you have one hell of a spectacle.
Cheese and onion chomping grunts in the Theatre of Dreams it ain't. And this is what fascinates me about football in Argentina. But life, or should I simply call it football, continues well after the 90 minutes are over.
Take for example Racing's recent march to get rid of their owning company. Thousands marched through the streets on downtown Buenos Aires on a Tuesday afternoon to demand that the AFA revoke the company's license.
Yesterday, fans of their arch-rivals Independiente also campaigned for their beleaguered coach Pedro Troglio to be sacked. Even the Minister of the Economy MartÃÂn Lousteau (a devout Independiente fan) waded in to denounce the team. The Minister of the Economy. This is the equivalent of Alistair Darling demanding the head of Aston Villa, or something. In other news San Lorenzo climbed to the height of more than 4000 metres to play in the highest city in the world, Potosi (I've been. I fainted walking with a back pack let alone 90 minutes of football). They beat Real Potosi 3-2, no mean feat and one that led the Bolivian press to praise their strong temperament, that left them at the top of their Copa Libertadores group.