Why is América vs Chivas called the ‘Súper Clásico’? What makes it such an important rivalry?
As Club América and Chivas Guadalajara prepare to face off in the Liga MX this weekend, we take a look back at the history and origins of their rivalry.
Staunch enemies Club América and Chivas Guadalajara meet at the Estadio Azteca on Saturday, with plenty at stake for both clubs beyond the kudos of winning what is Mexico’s highest-profile domestic fixture. América, whose run of nine victories in a row was brought to a halt when they drew with Santos Laguna on Wednesday, lead the way in the Apertura 2022 standings. Los Azul-Cremas are already guaranteed automatic qualification for the playoffs, but if they can finish the regular season top, they’ll bag themselves a quarter-final tie against the lowest-ranked team in the postseason. As for Guadalajara, Ricardo Cadena’s men have overcome a disastrous start to the Liga MX campaign to climb to seventh, but must defeat América to have any hope of finishing in the top four and earning a direct ticket to the playoffs.
A clash between Mexico’s most successful, most popular clubs
Although the clubs have won only two of the last 10 Liga MX titles between them, América and Chivas are the two most successful teams in the history of Mexican soccer, with 13 and 12 league championships to their name, respectively. This, allied with the fact that they are the country’s most popularly-supported teams, is what is at the heart of América vs Chivas’ status as Mexico’s ‘Clásico Nacional’, eclipsing all other domestic rivalries to the point where the fixture is also known as the ‘Súper Clásico’ and the ‘Clásico de los Clásicos’ (‘Clasíco of Clásicos’).
Rich vs poor, Mexicans vs foreigners...
Several other factors have played their part in creating the fierce rivalry that exists between the clubs. Notably, Chivas’ refusal to sign non-Mexicans contrasts with América’s willingness to splash the cash on foreign recruits. “With their Mexican players, Chivas are the good guys,” media mogul Emilio Azcárraga Milmo said after taking over América in 1959. “But we’re going to buy the best foreigners and become the bad guys.” In the years after his acquisition of Las Águilas, it’s also worth noting, Azcárraga’s broadcasting conglomerate Telesistema México - now Televisa - worked to promote the rivalry in the public eye.
A club based in Mexico City, América’s ongoing ownership by the Azcárragas - Emilio’s son, Emilio Fernando, is now chairman of both the club and Televisa - has also helped to fuel the framing of Mexico’s ‘Clásico’ as a match-up between one team representing the moneyed elite from the capital, and another representing the working class from the provinces. “Rich boys versus poor boys, city slickers versus provincial upstarts, foreign imports versus national talent, and chequebook team-building versus a youth policy,” global soccer’s governing body, FIFA, said in 2010. “A good number of the world’s great rivalries are spiced up by at least one of those ingredients, though not many can lay claim to all four.”
América boss Marcos fuels rivalry with 1959 comments
Although América and Chivas first met in the 1940s, their rivalry could hardly be described as fierce in the early years. It was not until 1959, when some provocative remarks by then-América coach Fernando Marcos put Guadalajaran noses thoroughly out of joint, that the enmity as we know it truly began to develop. Speaking after leading his team to 2-0 wins over three separate teams from the city - Oro, Atlas and Chivas - Marcos quipped: “América don’t come to Guadalajara to win - that’s a matter of course. We come here to change the city’s long-distance telephone code. Every time you want to phone Guadalajara, dial two zero, two zero, two zero.” Having taken exception to Marcos’ jibe, Chivas promptly beat América in the sides’ next meeting. The score? Yep. 2-0.
Another memorable episode that appears to have fanned the flames of the clubs’ animosity occurred in an ill-tempered clash in 1964. Having been sent off, legendary Chivas player Guillermo ‘El Tigre’ Sepúlveda tore off his shirt as he left the field, before holding it up and showing it to the América bench. “You’re up against it when you face this jersey,” he yelled. It’s a moment that has gone down in Chivas lore - and in the years since he retired from playing, Sepúlveda has been known to reprise the gesture from the sidelines when the arch rivals have faced each other.
Nearly 40 years since América and Chivas’ ‘Final of the Century’
Of América and Chivas’ meetings so far, their most notable was their Mexican league final tie in 1983/84 - a contest dubbed the ‘Final of the Century’. América triumphed 5-3 on aggregate to lift their fourth domestic title, and in the nearly four decades since then, the teams are yet to meet again in a championship decider. The closest they have come is a trio of semi-final encounters in 1990/91, the Apertura 2006 and the Clausura 2007. In recent years, the clubs’ most significant Liga MX clashes have come at the quarter-final stage of the playoffs. América were 2-1 aggregate winners over Chivas in the Apertura 2016 last eight, before Guadalajara earned revenge with a 3-1 aggregate victory at the same stage of the Guardianes 2020 tournament.