While showdowns between Penarol and Nacional may not receive quite as much coverage as some of the game's other great duels, its standing as the longest-running major derby outside the British Isles justifies its place in the pantheon of classic rivalries. Now FIFA.com brings you the story behind this unique Superclasico, the latest instalment of which tops the bill this Sunday on Matchday 16 of Uruguay's Apertura Championship.
Though distinct in their origins, the emergence of these two great clubs can be traced to social trends in Uruguay in the late 19th century. On 18 September 1891, a group of largely English employees of Ferrocarril Central del Uruguay founded the Central Uruguayan Railway Cricket Club (CURCC), basing themselves in the capital's Penarol district where the company was located. The club's colours, black and yellow, also had a historic significance, replicating as they did those of the country's railway signs at the time.
The genesis of Club Nacional de Football, meanwhile, owed much to the wave of nationalist fervour sweeping Uruguay at the time. Its official inauguration, on 14 May 1899, came about when two university institutions, the Uruguay Atletica Club and the Montevideo Football Club, joined forces to create an indigenous outfit that would match what many regarded as 'the foreign sides'. In a further patriotic gesture, the club chose red, white and blue as their colours in honour of the flag carried by national hero Jose Artigas, who defended the liberty of the nation.
Back when they were still known as the CURCC, Penarol beat Nacional 2-0 on 15 September 1900 in the first meeting of the sides. Indeed by the time the former officially adopted their current name in 1913, the pair had already crossed swords over fifty times, leading a journalist of the day to dub them "irreconcilable adversaries".
Facts and figures
Counting every meeting from 1900 to date, the duo have squared off an incredible 494 times, with 179 wins and 637 goals for Los Manyas (Penarol), 159 wins and 591 strikes for Los Bolsos, and 156 draws. Penarol fans never miss an opportunity to point out that, with the exception of the amateur era, they have the upper hand on their rivals in every aspect of their head-to-head record.
Nacional fans have plenty to be proud of as well, though. They recorded the biggest winning margin in the derby - 6-0 in 1941 - and boast the fixture's all-time top scorer in Atilio Garcia, with 34 goals. Moreover, they have the better record in finals contested with their arch-rivals (17 wins to Penarol's ten), and hold the mark for consecutive derby wins in the leagues (ten between 1939 and 1943).
The teams' phenomenal record at domestic and international level also stokes the flames of the rivalry. Collectively they have won 66 league titles in the professional era (Penarol 36, Nacional 30), eight Copas Libertadores (five and three respectively) and six world titles (three apiece).
Tales of derbies past
Perhaps one of the most storied meetings between the sides was what came to be known as El Clásico de la Valija (The Valise Derby). It was 25 May 1934 and the Montevideo giants were battling it out in the final of the Copa Uruguaya. With the score at 0-0, an over-hit Penarol cross went out of play only to rebound back in off a medical bag being carried by the Nacional physio. When Penarol scored from the resulting move, all manner of protests ensued, culminating in the goal being eventually disallowed but not before two of Los Bolsos' players had been sent off. As it happened, the tie could not be completed due to fading light and did not resume until 27 August. Nacional bravely hung on that day for the draw with only eight men, before famously winning the title with a 3-2 triumph in a play-off.
Another date that every Nacional supporter remembers is 14 December 1941, that of the aforementioned 6-0 win. With their second team also beating their rivals that day (4-0), it has gone down in folklore as El Día del 10-0 (10-0 Day). Not to be outdone, the Manyas supporters still sing about their 7-3 triumph back in 1911.
No less famous was their contest in October 1949. With Penarol comfortably leading 2-0 at the break, their arch-rivals simply refused to come out for the second half. Delighted Aurinegros fans quickly dubbed it 'The derby when they ran away' (Clásico de la Fuga). "I remember it rained constantly that day, but no sooner did the referee award us the game than the sun came out," recalled former Penarol and Uruguay star Alcides Ghiggia.
Between 1971 and 1973, Nacional went 16 games unbeaten against their old adversary. The sequence included seven wins, two of which famously came in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores 1971, which Los Bolsos would claim for the first time that year. Four years later, however, it was the turn of Manyas fans to cheer, with their side prevailing in the 100th meeting of the sides in the professional era.
In the 1980s, Penarol followers were treated to victory in the Copa de Oro de los Grandes, an eight-match competition against their rivals, after Los Aurinegros triumphed in five of the first six games.
From the 1990s until recently, both sides have had their turn in the ascendancy. Penarol came out on top in three of the four league championship finals they have both been involved in, while Nacional can proudly boast to have won the first Montevideo derby played overseas - a 3-1 victory in the 2005 Copa Teresa Herrera in Spain.
The rivalry today
In the last few years, the teams' respective fortunes have varied considerably. While Nacional celebrated victory in the Clausura 2008 and are currently in the quarter-finals of this year's Copa Libertadores, Los Manyas have now gone five years without a title and crashed out of the continent's premier club competition this year at the qualifying stage. Despite these setbacks, current coach Gerardo Pelusso insists none of this will have a bearing on Sunday's game: "In these derbies, the statistics or what happened in previous matches do not come into play. These are special games because it is pride and honour that's at stake. There is never a favourite, and this game will be no exception."
The Uruguayan Superclasico has seen it all down the years, and this Sunday, like every other derby day, all that matters will be winning.