A midweek clash between two mid-table teams that brings a country to a standstill? Sam Kelly builds up to Rive Plate v Boca Juniors, the biggest match in the Argentine calender.

It's not every day, or indeed in every league, that a country's championship race can be essentially overlooked for a week in favour of building up towards a clash between two thoroughly ordinary, lower-mid-table sides. Regardless of how historically big the clash might be, clearing aside over half of the country's biggest sports newspaper to dedicate column inches to it might be considered a bit OTT in the event that it turns out to be the team in 15th visiting the team in 12th.

But then again, it's not every day that the identities of those two teams are Boca Juniors and River Plate. How the mighty have fallen. But if you didn't read any Spanish, and looked purely at the amount of coverage Tuesday evening's fixture has been getting, you could as ever be forgiven for mistaking this for a matchup between the two leaders in the title race. It may be shaping up to be a deeply underwhelming game, but it's still River vs Boca.

Between them, they claim two-thirds of the country's football fans, but of late both clubs have turned into mere shadows of their former selves, made to look even more pathetic by the light at the end of the tunnel for the likes of Racing – long suffering but definitely on the up – and the full-on glare of Estudiantes' and Vélez Sarsfield's recent consistency and level of play. River have thirty-three professional-era league titles, but this season are looking increasingly lost in their mission to find their way out of relegation trouble. Boca have been champions twenty-three times in the pro era, and have won six Copas Libertadores, but unless they pick their game up quickly, they might also be fighting against Argentina's three-season relegation table come next season.

Both have been going through a huge amount of off-pitch instability recently too. Ángel Cappa was sacked as River boss following defeat eight days ago to All Boys, the newly-promoted side who are tearing up trees and also have the scalps of Boca and league leaders Estudiantes on home turf (although the Boca game was switched to Huracán's stadium). As such, River will go into the game managed by caretaker J.J. López, a playing legend over eleven seasons mostly during the 1980s, and one of the club's most successful ever players, but a relative coaching novice at the top level.

López also played for six matches with Boca later in his career, and as such with Claudio Borghi on the Boca bench, both sides will be managed by men who once played (albeit briefly) for the opposition. It's a curiosity in what could well be a very curious superclásico indeed. Juan Román Riquelme is battling against a niggling injury after an impressive (albeit losing) comeback in the last round against his (and manager Borghi's) former club Argentinos Juniors. In that game, even after six months out injured, he was head and shoulders above his team mates, so Boca's chances of victory will be considerably improved if he plays.

For River of course, the new manager is something of an unknown quantity and if the sacking of Cappa – who was popular with the players – provides them with a kick up the backside, the match might just turn out to be a happier story than expected for the hosts. No-one's counting on that though.

Whatever happens, the super is, just for once, only another game – even if it is a game that's going to paralyse the country for two hours on Tuesday evening. The necessity for points, especially in River's case, outweighs the bragging rights on offer for a change. It's perhaps fitting then, given the two sides' reduced status of late that the reason it's being played on a weekday is that a Jonas Brothers concert at the Estadio Monumental over the weekend took precedence.

Originally, the match had been scheduled to take place a week earlier, but all football on the weekend before that was cancelled following the death of former president of Argentina (and husband and probable successor of the current one) Néstor Kirchner. That delay has led to a degree of chaos in the fixture list, but whilst Boca were livid at being made to play the superclásico on a Tuesday ('Sunday is the day for the clásico, it's sacred,' Riquelme said at one point), they oddly didn't complain six years ago, when a super double-header on two Wednesday nights provided one of the most electrifying Copa Libertadores semi-finals in that competition's history.

In the real business of the league campaign, Estudiantes slipped up on Saturday by losing unexpectedly away to Tigre, a result which allowed Vélez Sarsfield to join them on thirty points at the top by beating Lanús with a brilliant shot on the hour from Ricardo Álvarez. Racing's impressive season continued in Rosario, where they comfortably beat Newell's Old Boys 2-0 to stay in the hunt for a Copa Libertadores place next year, and promoted side Quilmes who've been absolutely useless all season finally - in their fourteenth match - claimed their first win of the campaign.

For an awful lot of the country, though, not to mention a couple of hundred countries around the world which the match will be televised to, Tuesday evening's game is the one that matters. There's a lot, lot more to the Argentine league than River Plate and Boca Juniors – this season arguably more than ever before – but theirs is the rivalry that captures the imagination most. The superclásico is almost upon us. Perhaps when it's over, we can get back to looking at the league from a more level-headed viewpoint.

Sam also writes for Soccernet and When Saturday Comes, and you can follow all the day-to-day action at his blog Hasta El Gol Siempre during the Argentine season. Also you can listen to Sam on his new Podcast - 'The Hand Of Pod' - available at this link or through iTunes.

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