Football or Soccer derbies are the rivalries between club teams that are often closer together geographically. These rivalries have generally been between loyal fanbases traditionally linked to a particular club. Often these fan groups are referred to as, ‘ultras’ who are passionate fans known for their vocal support of their team and their use of colorful, creative, and sometimes controversial chanting and banner-waving during matches. As a result, there are various instances of violence and riots inside and outside the stadiums has been witnessed and in some cases, fans also lost their life.
What is the reason for the Soccer/Football rivalries?
The following factors contribute to the emergence of football rivalries :
Geography: It is the most common reason and many clubs are local rivals that create a split among local people of the city.
Event: Any specific event in the past gives fuel to the rivalry. Transfer of players to the opposite club or any important loss is a significant reason that gave rise to many rivalries.
Social: The class divide among people is one of the key factors in the creation of feuds. In some of the popular derbies, economic disparity is the main factor. Also, in the case of the Celtic and Rangers, religious conflict gave rise to strife.
Top 10 Football’s (Soccer) Greatest Rivalries:
1. El Clasico:
- Clubs: Real Madrid vs Barcelona
- Country: Spain
It is the greatest derbies between the two biggest cities of Spain. Real Madrid and Barcelona are the most successful soccer clubs in La Liga. Both teams have had a commendable influence on football because they won various European as well as La Liga titles.
The reason for this rivalry is influenced by two different political positions, Spanish and Catalan nationalism. Both teams have a massive fanbase in the world. Several iconic players such as Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, and Christiano Ronaldo, etc had played for these clubs.
2. The Superclasico:
- Clubs: Boca Juniors vs River Plate
- Country: Argentina
This is the biggest soccer derby in Argentina in which two rival clubs Boca Juniors and River Plate from the suburbs of Buenos Aires play against each other. It can be considered the fiercest derbies of football that emerged due to the class divide in society.
The Boca Juniors supporters mainly belong to the working class and River Plate supporters represent the upper-class society of Buenos Aires.
There are various incidents of violence against players by the supporters of the opposite teams. In 2018, Boca Juniors players were attacked by the River Plate ultras on their way to the stadium. A similar incident happened to River Plate players when they were attacked with pepper spray in 2015.
3. The Old Firm:
- Clubs: Celtic FC vs Rangers FC
- Country: Scotland
This is the biggest soccer derby in Scotland between Glasgow’s two biggest clubs, Celtic and Rangers, against each other. These teams are the most successful teams in the Scottish League.
The reason for this animosity between the fans is religious who follow two different sects of Christianity (Protestant and Catholic). The game between them is filled with aggression, religious slurs, and political slogans.
The rivalry has a history of bitterness, hatred, and animosity between the fans of the clubs. The matches between them are full of intensity and passion among supporters that is propagated with controversial banners and chants.
4. The Milan Derby (Derby Della Madonnina):
- Clubs: Inter Milan vs AC Milan
- Country: Italy
The Milan Derby is the contest between Inter Milan and AC Milan, the two rival clubs of Madrid. Both these teams are the most successful clubs in Italian football.
The Milan Derby is frequently a tightly contested game, and the two clubs have a roughly equal record in head-to-head matches. The Milan Derby is usually eagerly anticipated by soccer fans in Italy and throughout the world because of the intense and passionate rivalry between AC Milan and Inter Milan.
5. The North West Derby:
- Clubs: Manchester United vs Liverpool
- Country: England
This is the biggest soccer derby in England, as it pits Manchester United and Liverpool against each other. These two clubs are the most decorated clubs in the history of English football.
The reason for inter-city rivalry is the historic economic and industrial competition between them that is carried forward with football.
The stadiums are full of fans when these clubs pit against each other and the rivalry is to show who is better. In recent few years, the performance of Manchester United is degraded and Liverpool has shown mesmerizing aggressive style of play.
6. O Clássico
- Clubs: Porto Vs Benfica
- Country: Portugal
Lisbon and Porto are Portugal’s two largest cities represented by these clubs. Both clubs are the most decorated clubs in the Primeira Liga. The reason for animosity is the competition between the two cities that started in 1912 when they played their first match against each other. The cultural difference has also divided the fans.
The class divide between the two cities is also the reason for the split among fans as Lisbon represents more posh whereas Porto is supported by working-class society.
7. The Intercontinental Derby:
- Clubs: Galatasaray and Fenerbahce
- Country: Turkey
This is the biggest soccer derby in Turkey, and it is between two clubs Galatasaray, and Fenerbahce of Istanbul. It is known as “Intercontinental” because both the clubs represent. Asian and European parts of Istanbul. The reason for the animosity is purely a geographical divide and the matches between them are filled with hate and intensity.
The fans are always charged up to support their respective clubs and sometimes that results in violence and rioting and becomes the talk of the town for a week.
8. The Rome Derby:
- Clubs: AS Roma vs Lazio
- Country: Italy
The Rome Derby is one of the most fearsome derbies in the world. The reason for this rivalry between AS Roma and Lazio is the class difference. AS Roma supporters are natives of Rome and thus represent the upper class and Lazio fans come from the outer suburbs of Rome and belong to the working class of society.
There are many instances of violence, vandalism, and hooliganism inside and outside the stadium. Fans of both teams often clash with each other which makes it the fiercest football rivalry in Italy.
9. De Klassieker:
- Club: Ajax v. Feyenoord
- Country: Netherlands
It is the rivalry between two major cities of the Netherlands Ajax represents Amsterdam and Feyenoord represents Rotterdam. The reason for rivalry is the cultural differences between the two cities. Amsterdam is the city of artists and Rotterdam is of workers that also reflects in their style of play.
The worst incident in the rivalry’s history occurred at the Battle of Beverwijk in 1997 when rioting and fights led to the death of an Ajax supporter. Since then, away supporters have been prohibited from the game numerous times to stop vandalism and sabotage.
10. The North West London:
- Clubs: Tottenham vs Arsenal
- Country: England
The rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal, often known as the North London derby, began in the early 20th century and has been characterized by fierce competition and fervent support from both sets of fans. The rivalry began when Arsenal moved their ground from North London to Woolwich.
The fans of the teams do not share friendly terms with each other, especially Tottenham supporters who hate everything about Arsenal.
Best Derbies of England
Apart from the above-mentioned rivalries between clubs of England, the other known derbies of England are:
|1.||Manchester Derby||Manchester City vs Manchester United|
|2.||The Tyne-Wear Derby||Newcastle United vs Sunderland|
|3.||The Merseyside Derby||Liverpool vs Everton|
|4.||North West London Derby||Chelsea vs Arsenal|
|5.||The Dockers Derby||Millwall – West Ham United|
What are the biggest football derbies?
1. El Clasico: Real Madrid vs Barcelona
2. The Super Clasico: Boca Juniors vs River Plate
3. The Old Firm: Celtic FC vs Rangers FC
What are the biggest derbies in England?
1. North-West Derby: Manchester United vs Liverpool
2. North-West London Derby: Tottenham Hotspurs vs Arsenal
3. Manchester Derby: Manchester City vs Manchester United