It’s not a secret that football is a passionate sport and that passion takes us to be very intense with our team. Just like we love our favorite club with a huge passion, it’s almost mandatory to dislike our biggest rival with the same intensity. There are plenty of rivalries around the world, starting from teams that were created as an act of revenge, suspicious matches that led to the creation of rivalries and even due to political and religious reasons.
There are plenty of stories surrounding the best derbies in the world, and this time we’re going to introduce you to some of the biggest ones you can find on the planet. These are the top 10 biggest rivalries in football history.
Honorable Mention: Juventus vs. Internazionale
10. Roma vs. Lazio
You can’t talk about rivalries without mentioning this one, which is one of the most intense not only in Italian football but the rest of the world. Roma-Lazio, the “Derby della Capitale”, is a very fierce rivalry that has shown the bad blood there are between these two sides in more than one occasion. Players, fans, coaches and even directives know that this game is live very differently.
To know the origin of this great enmity, we have to go back to 1927, when Benito Mussolini decided to create a unified team in Roma so he could dare the teams from the North (Milan, Inter, and Juventus). That’s how the AS Roma was born thanks to several clubs from the city. However, there was one squad who didn’t want to be unified, the Lazio, and they managed to not do so thanks to the influence of a fascist general.
That served to create one of the biggest and hottest rivalries football has nowadays, as every match between these two sides is always full of drama, intensity and more, both on the pitch and stands, where violence has made his appearances more than once throughout history.
9. Internazionale vs. Milan
Another derby between city neighbors. We just watched Roma and Lazio and now is time to go to the North of Italy, where we find the Derby della Madonnina, played by two of the biggest three teams in Italy, Internazionale, and Milan. This bad blood started eight years after Milan was founded, as some misunderstandings regarding the signing of international players led to the separation of some directives from the club, who later would go to create Internazionale.
Ever since that, there has been anything but love from these two clubs, as their clashes are always tense given the history they have shared. Their head-to-head record is very close, with Inter winning 80 times, while Milan has collected 77 wins over the course of history. As for the titles, they are very close from one another, too, They have both won 18 league titles; in the Coppa Italia, it is Inter who edge their rivals with seven to five titles.
In Champions League, nobody except Real Madrid has won more titles than Milan, who has seven right now, while Inter counts with three. This is not some disadvantage derby, this is a rivalry between two giants who even though aren’t having their best times, are on the verge to be the great squads they used to be.
8. Liverpool vs. Manchester United
England has a lot of derbies, they can be regional, between two teams from the same city and clubs that have won several awards. However, the Liverpool-Manchester United rivalry is one of the bests in the United Kingdom alongside the Old Firm, as it faces the most successful clubs in English football, Liverpool and Manchester United. This game is so important that they’re considered more crucial than the ones these two have with Everton and Manchester City, respectively.
The proximity of the cities these two represent the historic economic and industrial rivalry add more things to an already bitter derby. Plus they have dominated domestic football, have had European success, and huge popularity both in England and abroad as two of the most successful and widely supported football clubs in the world
In 202 meetings, Liverpool has won 66 games for 56 draws and 80 wins in favor of Manchester United. In combination, they have collected 38 league titles, 8 European Cups, 4 UEFA Cups, 4 UEFA Super Cups, 19 FA Cups, 13 League Cups, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 36 FA Community Shields
7. Olympiakos vs. Panathinaikos
Greece is not exempt from having one of the biggest rivalries in the world as they introduced the Derby of the eternal enemies to the globe. Olympiakos and Panathinaikos are the two most important clubs in Greece and the starring of this game, who has taken things a little too far sometimes.
Just like several rivalries in the world, both teams come from a different background and started to attract very different types of supporters. Panathinaikos was founded in 1908 and was considered the representative of the high class while Olympiakos was founded in 1925 in Piraeus port, going to represent the working class of Athens. Right now their fans aren’t just from the mentioned groups, as they have extended their fanbases.
The last game of this derby serves as proof of how intense it is. The match was suspended due to incidents between ultras and police at the 70th minute of the encounter When chemicals used outside the stadium made the referee stop the game.
6. Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce
This rivalry is a very bitter one and has been earning a bigger reputation in recent years after all the things that have taken place both on the pitch and the stands. The Intercontinental Derby is played by Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, the maximum winners in Turkish football history. This game is surrounded by an intensity and a curious history that would have been very different today; at the beginning of the 20th century, these teams were about to merge and become one total Turkish side.
Due to the Balkan War that never could happen and today, we have one of the best derbies in football. Back in 1934 unexpected riots marked the beginning of this derby since players from both teams started to play very roughly, with hard fouls. All this tension went from the pitch to the stands and at the end, the game was finished when the ref decided to leave the field with the players going into fights. Nothing was the same after that day.
Throughout 110 years of history, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce have played 388 times, with the Lions winning 146 games for 119 draws and 123 victories for Galatasaray.
5. Celtic vs. Rangers
The Old Firm has a deeper background than just a sporting rival and you can tell that by how different these teams are. Their differences have reflected, and contributed to political, social, and religious division and sectarianism in their country, gaining more and more popularity around the world seeing the way this derby has been developed and played until our days.
Everything started with a series of complex disputes, not just a sporting one; sometimes based on religion (Catholic and Protestant), Northern Ireland-related politics (Loyalist and Republican), national identity (British or Irish Scots), and social ideology (Conservatism and Socialism). The fight for being the greatest team in the country only stirs the pot for all these problems to surface and demonstrate the hate these two teams have for each other.
In combination, the two clubs have won 103 Scottish League championships (Rangers 54 and Celtic 49), 71 Scottish Cups, and 45 Scottish League Cups.
4. Flamengo vs. Fluminense
Flamengo and Fluminense play one of the biggest showdowns in Brazilian football known as Fla-Flu, a match that stops Rio de Janeiro and the entire country. These matches take place in one of the best venues to play, Maracana Stadium and are always full of excitement, drama and more. The beginning of this rivalry took place when a group of dissatisfied players from Fluminense decided to leave the club and join Flamengo -which didn’t even have a football department at the time.
These are two of the most successful clubs in Brazilian and Carioca football. Flamengo has won the Carioca championship 34 times while Fluminense has won it 31. Flamengo has won five Serie A titles and three Brazilian Cups. On the other hand, Fluminense has won four Série A, one Brazilian Cup, and one Série C. Plus, they hold the world record football match attendance between clubs, set with 194,603 in 1963.
3. Red Star Belgrade vs. Partizan
The Eternal Derby doesn’t have a huge background, an impressive story to tell other than facing the two most successful clubs in Serbian football. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean this is one of the most bitter derbies not only in Europe but overseas. Founded in the same year (1945), Red Star Belgrade and Partizan have been ruling Yugoslavia and Serbia football, creating a rivalry that has made a big name worldwide.
Every time they to go to play against each other the city of Belgrade gets paralyzed and people only wait to see what the next edition of the Belgrade Derby will bring to fans or public in general. The rivalry between these two can be in the stands, as fans always try to embarrass their rivals and let the others know they are the best team and best fanbase in the country. The highest attendance for a Red Star-Partizan match was about 108,000 spectators at the Red Star Stadium.
Throughout history, they have met in 157 official matches, with Red Star winning 63 games for 46 of Partizan.
2. Real Madrid vs. Barcelona
El Clasico is the most famous derby in the world, as you can see two of the best teams in the world collide and no matter how good they are playing, how good their current moments are, this game is different and nothing can change that; players must give their everything when this match happens.
Barcelona and Madrid paralyzed the world whenever they play, no matter the venue or if it’s just a friendly match, you can not lose this game. Big figures, controversial signings, huge scoreboards, and even fights are some of the reasons why nobody wants to miss this game, as these two always deliver and surprise when they clashed. No wonder why they are the most successful clubs in Spanish football.
Madrid and Barcelona have played 242 official games, with Barca winning 96, Madrid 95 and 51 ties.
1. Boca Juniors vs. River Plate
Only one game can attract the same or more attention than a Real Madrid-Barcelona and that’s El Superclasico between Argentinian sides River Plate and Boca Juniors, the maximum winners of Argentine football that every season make the biggest effort to defeat and embarrass their archrivals. Having a similar background and being founded in the same neighborhood only made this clash more intense than it already is.
This game is so important, so fierce and so intense that fans often lose control and violence takes over the street of Buenos Aires city. For both clubs don’t matter if they win a title in their season if they weren’t able to defeat the maximum rival. Last time these two played was in the best stage of all, the Copa Libertadores final, which had to be moved to Spain due to the violence lived when the second leg of the final was set to be played.
That hasn’t been the only time violence incidents have been displayed by both fans, as these two teams have history fighting each other either on the pitch or outside the stadiums. For all of that and more, this is the biggest and fiercest rivalry in football.