The most captivating events in any sport are undoubtedly the rivalry games. The fans are fully of energy, the atmosphere is intense, and there is no shortage of competitive spirit. With so many clubs in the world, we decided to really dig deep into which rivalries are the best. There are obviously those in Europe’s top 5 leagues, but there are also so many in smaller leagues throughout the world. Here are our top 20 rivalries in world football.
20. FC Bayern-1860 Munchen
19. Standard Liege-Anderlecht
18. CSKA Moscow-Lokomotiv
17. Spartak Moscow-Dinamo Kiev
16. Emelec-Barcelona S.C.
10. Gualadraja-Club America
7. Boca Juniors-River Plate
6. AC Milan-Inter Milan
At number 5, it’s “De Klassieker” of the Netherlands, between two of their biggest clubs. This rivalry has been headlined by a long history of fan violence, including riots in 1997 and 2005, where several fans were tragically killed. Overall, Ajax has been the more successful club (67 W 44 D 44 L in head to head matches. They also lead the trophy battle 71-44), but the atmosphere has one of the most unique intensities in the world.
Coming in at 4, it’s the two giants in Turkey. In fact, there is quite an interesting backstory to this. In the first decade of the 1900s, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray nearly united to form one strong Turkish team. The only thing that stopped them, however, was the Balkan Wars (1913). From that point, tensions have gone downhill. Things officially ended in 1934 when a friendly match actually was abandoned to the intense violence and physicality occurring. Overall, Galatasaray leads the trophy count 73-66.
3. Manchester United-Liverpool
England’s northwest derby, between two world giants, is our 3rd best rivalry in the world. These are the two most successful English teams, so with that comes competition of course. It’s not just the football clubs – the cities themselves are regional rivals. Both clubs have their own legends, from Steven Gerrard to Wayne Rooney, who also have reflected their hatred for the opposing sides. This is probably the greatest example of football hooliganism, with no shortage of fan tension. Manchester United currently have 65 trophies, while Liverpool has 60. United also lead the head to head.
2. FC Barcelona-Real Madrid
The 2nd best rivalry in the world has to be El Clasico, between two of the biggest clubs in the world. These clubs have featured some of the best players in the world, from Barcelona’s Ronaldinho to Real Madrid’s Zidane. Currently, they have the rivalry between the world’s top two players, Messi and Ronaldo. The debate on who is better will probably never be answered, and that just adds to the craziness. The head to head reflects this rivalry crazily, as Madrid just edges out Barcelona with 93 wins, 49 draws, and 90 losses. However, Barcelona does have more trophies (89 to 80). La Liga has been won by one of these clubs 11 of the past 12 seasons, and 27 of the last 32 seasons, and history is looking to repeat itself this season.
At number 1, it’s the two teams from Glasglow, Scotland: Rangers and Celtic. Two of the original members of the 11 team SFL, these clubs have played since 1890. This rivalry extends to religion, politics, and so many more differences in ideologies of the clubs, which is really what got the whole thing started in the early 1900s. Even after acts were passed between clubs to lower violence, fans continue to get involved in the rivalry in many unwanted ways. These teams have met 405 times, with Rangers taking 159 of those, and Celtic taking 149 (97 draws).
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