It was nearly one hundred years to the day. On Sunday, 8 July, Fluminense took on Flamengo in the Engehão stadium in Rio de Janeiro. It was the 391st contest between the sides and resulted in the 124th victory for Fluminense, with their captain Fred getting the only goal of the game in the tenth minute.
So what is FlaFlu?
Arguably, it's the biggest derby in Rio, though I've met some Vasco da Gama fans who argue differently.
Both clubs share a common history. Fluminense was the first football-specific sports club founded in Rio in 1902. Success came quickly with the team winning five of the first six Carioca Championships, the competition organised for teams in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
However, there were problems within the club and in 1911 ten Fluminense players left the club and asked Flamengo, a rowing club with whom one of the players was associated, to form a football department. Flamengo agreed and what would go on to become the biggest football club in Brazil was formed.
The following year, the very first FlaFlu was played on 7 July, with Fluminense winning 3-2. This game would be the first of many in what would become one of the biggest derbies in the world.
Over the next fifty years, before there was any official national tournament in Brazil, both sides battled for dominance of the Carioca Championship. Currently, Flamengo hold the record for most Carioca wins, with 32. Fluminense, the reigning champions, are second with 31. The next team is Vasco da Gama with 22 wins.
Although there are four big clubs in Rio (Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco da Gama and Botafogo), the most identifiable difference among the team's respective supporters is visible in the support of Flamengo and Fluminense. The latter have been traditionally, and still are, associated with the upper classes of Rio society while Flamengo are seen as the team of the city's (and the country's) poorest. If Flamengo are losing, it is common to hear the opposing team's fans chant: "Silêncio na favela!" Silence in the slums.
Although a big game with countless famous moments attached to it, this time round the match had a slightly unfamiliar feeling to it as it was played at Engenhão, the home stadium of Botafogo and the Olympic stadium for 2016. The usual home of the game, and the spiritual home of Brazilian football, the Maracanã is currently being redeveloped for the 2014 World Cup.
The FlaFlu holds the world record for the highest attendance for a match between two clubs, in 1963, when 177,656 paid in and probably more actually attended. Sunday's game only attracted a crowd of 32,591, possibly due to the much smaller capacity (46,931) of Engenhão and the rainy, wintry conditions which prevailed in the city all day.
However, the spectacle of this game lived up to its reputation. With raucous cheering emanating from both sets of fans, as well as a ceremonial kick-off with former Flamengo and Fluminense players, the club anthems of both songs being sung and a countdown by the PA to the actual kick-off, the game had more of a feel of a celebration of football, rather than one expected at the fiercest derbies around the world. Added to this was a half-time show where singers Paulo Ricardo and Neguinho da Beija-Flor, Fluminense and Flamengo fans respectively, both sang from an open-roof bus as it drove around the athletic track.
Flamengo started well, getting into good positions and restricting Fluminense to the odd counter-attack but it was through one of these that Fluminense took the lead. After Fred ran at the Flamengo goal and appeared to overrun the ball, he was brought down on the edge of the area by Chilean defender Marcos Gonzalez. Thiago Neves took the resulting free-kick but it went straight into the wall. However, Flamengo failed to clear and the ball returned to Neves. Having got past his man, he crossed low from the right corner of the penalty area and Fred ran onto it and steered the ball passed Paulo Victor and into the corner of the Flamengo goal. It was his first goal in his sixth FlaFlu game.
The remainder of the game was far from lively, with both sides having one great chance each to get a goal. Flamengo were to strike the post in the final quarter of the game, when an in-swinging corner from the left was met with a powerful header on the edge of the six-yard box. However the header lacked direction and hit the post, causing a momentary panic in the Fluminense box.
In the dying moments, Fluminense's Jean controlled a bouncing ball on the edge of the box and, spying the keeper slightly out of position, tried to lob the ball into the top-right corner, with his effort going agonisingly close.
While Brazilian football doesn't have quite as much money invested in it as European football, they can attract top players and have lured back some Brazilian stars of undoubted quality who had struggled in Europe. On display in this game for Fluminense was captain Fred, formerly of Olympique Lyon, along with former Liverpool keeper Diego Cavalieri, ex-Barça and Chelsea midfielder Deco, while Flamengo boasted former CSKA Moscow striker Vágner Love and ex-Porto midfielder Ibson.
With Botafogo recently acquiring four-time Champions League winner Clarence Seedorf in what is believed to be a record deal for a foreign player as well as Internacional signing Diego Forlán, it can be seen that some clubs are beginning to have the money to attract bigger names and, perhaps more importantly, hold on to their own rising talents. The continuance of Neymar's association with Santos is evidence of this.
Currently working in Brazil, Finbarr will be giving his take on Brazilian football in his regular Extratime.ie column. Finbarr peviously studied in Spain and worked in the Czech Republic and had regular column pieces on local football in both countries. You can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org