The ultimate rivals in Peruvian football are Universitario de Perú and Alianza Lima. Twice a year these teams fight a war, with thousands of fanatic soldiers in the stands. “U” and Alianza met at Estadio Monumental in the district Ate yesterday, and the atmosphere was an electric example of South American football passion. (Pics follow later)
Estadio Monumental dooms up as a colossus, built against the first mountain range surrounding Lima. Between the lively, chaotic city and the raw quietness of the mountains, the concrete arena seems a seperate empire. A battleground where players and hostile fans of the barras bravas fight for glory.
This battleground is strictly split: el sur (the south) for the home team, el norte (the north) for Alianza. Through many kilometres outside the stadium, a extensive police force prevents a clash of opposing fans. The officers don´t hesitate to use violence. Because I travel in a combi bus that enters on the Alianza side, I have no other opportunity than to join their barra. No bad luck though: Alianza turned out to be the winning side.
The choreographies before the game, that I so often saw on television, were impressive. Gigantic banners, enormous amounts of paper and toilet rolls mark the team presentations. Fireworks are not allowed inside, but many spectators couldn´t care less. The referee had to delay the game for ten minutes because of the mushroom cloud of smoke.
Alianza’s base is La Victoria, a traditional district of mostly black people. They proudly call it La Rica Vicky (Delicious Vicky). This is clearly visible today: 10 musicians play salsa throughout the game. The handclapping in salsa rhythm and frequent chants of Vamos Grone! (Grone is a name for a black man, also used as an insult; Alianza bears this name with pride) continue throughout the game. Sing when you´re winning? Not here! The chaos, a mashup of hate, pride, joy, sorrow, and religion, lasts 90 minutes long.
The game itself wasn’t that sparkling, especially in the first half. Except for one big chance for U’s midfielder Ramírez, it was an even game, with most of the action happening at midfield. Not that the players were acting without passion, though. FIFA-referee Rivera had to use his yellow card three times in the first fifteen minutes. Still, the antique scoreboard showed no goals at half time.
Without a doubt, the best half time instructions were given by Gustavo Costas, Alianza’s coach. The team from La Victoria came out very sharp. In the 47th minute, Donny Neyra passed brilliantly through the arch of the field. Freshly substituted Paolo Hurtado beat his defender and coolheadedly set goalkeeper Raúl Fernández on the wrong foot. It proved to be the only goal, despite the home team’s ferocious warfare.
Afterwards, the party goes on in the streets of Ate. Despite the security measures, large groups of Universitario fans turn up. I jump in a taxi and leave the barras alone with the police.
CLUB UNIVERSITARIO DE DEPORTES – CLUB ALIANZA LIMA 0-1
47. Paolo Hurtado 0-1
Universitario: Raúl Fernández, Giancarlo Carmona, Carlos Galván, Jhon Galliquio, Jesús Rabanal; Rainer Torres (79. Carlos Orejuela), Antonio Gonzales, Luis Ramírez (53. Johan Vázquez), Raúl Ruidíaz; Piero Alva, Gianfranco Labarthe (78. Víctor Piriz) (Coach: Salvador Capitano).
Alianza: Salomón Libman; Ámilton Prado, Walter Vilchez, Leandro Fleitas, Edgar Villamarin; Juan Jayo (46. Paolo Hurtado), Henry Quinteros (79. Eduardo Uribe), Joel Sanchez, Jean Tragodara; Donny Neyra (86. Claudio Velásquez), José Carlos Fernández (Coach: Gustavo Costas).
Referee: Víctor Hugo Rivera
Booked: Torres, Rabanal (U), Fernández, Libman, Fleitas, Tragodara (Alianza).