Football season is almost here and that means the reawakening of old rivalries and resumption of hostilities. Rivalries that come with lots of history and define not just competitions, but cities and countries. These age long rivalries have become the centre of attraction because of their intensity, violence, quality of football and most of all passion.
From the El Clásico in Spain to the Superclásico in Argentina, here are ten of the most intense football rivalries in the world
1. El Clásico
The El Clásico is regarded as one of the most intense rivalries in sports, and one of the biggest club football games in the world. The game is contested between the two biggest giants in Spanish football, Real Madrid and Barcelona. The El Clásico is viewed by thousands of fans at the stadiums and millions all over the world on TV screens. The game is never free of controversial incidents, one of such incidents occurred in 2011, then Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho, during an altercation between both teams, poked Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova in the eye. These sort of incidents are very frequent in this high-stakes derby. Barcelona leads the head-to-head results in competitive matches with 96 wins to Real Madrid’s 95.
2. The North West Derby
The North London Derby is considered the most famous fixture in English football. It is played between arch-rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, two of the most successful clubs in English football. Players, fans and the media alike often consider games between the two clubs to be their biggest rivalry, above even their own local derby competitions with Everton and Manchester City, respectively. The game embodies what English football is all about, with its intensity and passion, which often involves verbal abuses and all out brawls among both players and fans.
3. Derby della Madonnina (Milan Derby)
The Derby della Madonnina, also known as the Derby di Milano (or the Milan Derby, in English is a derby football match between the two prominent in Milan clubs Internazionale and Milan. The Milan derby is the biggest in Italian football, and the game was labelled by some as a political affair, especially when AC Milan and Inter were owned by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and prominent businessperson Massimo Moratti respectively. The Milan derby is often remembered for more of the fighting than the football, although it has become less intense in recent years. Some prominent players to have played in the Milan derby Include, Ronaldo Nazario, Gennaro Gattuso, Zlatan Ibrahimović , Andrea Pirlo, among others.
4. The Merseyside Derby
The Marseyside Derby between Everton and Liverpool is one of the post passionate and intense football rivalries in the world. What started as a friendly game between two neighbouring teams has escalated into an all out war. The derby has the highest number of matches in English football and has seen a record number of red cards with 21 sending offs. Both teams fight tooth and nail in a bid to reign supreme in Liverpool.
5. The North London Derby
The North London Derby is considered by many to be one of the most famous and fiercest derbies in the UK and Europe. The game is contested between to London teams, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The derby is known for fast paced and high scoring matches along with violent encounters between opposing fans. Arsenal had initially had the upper hand over their rivals, but in recent times, Spurs have begun to exert themselves as a more than capable rival in London.
6. El Derbi Madrileño (Madrid Derby)
The rivalry between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid started at the very beginning of the twentieth century and has evolved into a full blown must win battle for supremacy. The Madrid derby is one of the most anticipated matches in the Spanish football calendar and one of the fieriest derbies. For a while Real Madrid dominated the fixture, but over time Atlético have emerged from the shadows.
7. The Manchester Derby
The Manchester Derby is is a fierce rivalry in the Premier League between Manchester United and Manchester. The rivalry has become more intense in recent years with City’s splurge, ending United’s dominance and making the contest more high stakes. The teams have played 178 matches in all competitions, United winning 73, City 53, and the remaining 52 having been drawn.
8. Derby d’Italia
The Derby d’Italia is an intense football derby between Internazionale of Milan and Juventus of Turin. The term was coined back in 1967 by Italian sports journalist Gianni Brera. As the teams are from the two biggest cities in Northwest Italy, the derby has also come to represent a regional rivalry, and the intensity on the pitch has also made its way into Italian politics. Juventus have managed to edge their opponents on a majority of occasions with a 110 – 77 win margin.
9. The Old Firm Derby
The Old Firm Derby is contested between Celtic and Rangers, two of the most successful clubs in Scotland. The game is the fiercest and oldest derby in Scottish football, and it is known for its violence, vandalism and pitch invasion. The rivalry has reflected, and contributed to, political, social, and religious division in Scotland, although it is also responsible for generating a heavy revenue for Scotland’s economy.
The Superclásico is a derby between Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate, two clubs that commandeer more than 70% of all Argentine football fans between them. The Superclásico one of the most searing and most important derbies in the world. The Superclásico was at the top of “50 sporting things you must do before you die” by English newspaper The Observer in April 2004.