Football is already a very competitive game but winning a grudge match against a rival makes the victory all the sweeter. That’s why we wanted to take a look at the 10 biggest football derbies in European football.
Biggest derbies in European Football
10. Ajax vs Feyenoord
De Klassieker (The Classic) is the biggest football rivalry in the Netherlands, taking place between Ajax and Feyenoord.
The record attendance between the pair was on 9 January 1966, when 65,562 watched them play in Rotterdam. The rivalry between Amsterdam and Rotterdam can also be seen as a rivalry between Holland’s two biggest cities. These derbies are not only a footballing clash but also one of different cultures and attitudes.
9. Portsmouth vs Southampton
The South Coast Derby, or less commonly known as the Hampshire Derby, are terms used to describe football matches played between Portsmouth and Southampton. Perhaps not as famous as some other UK derbies, it was ranked as the number one rivalry in English football based on pure hatred last year.
It a derby that hasn’t been played regularly for a number of years now, due to Portsmouth’s on and off field issues seeing them fall through the divisions. However, the clash between these two remains one of the biggest derbies in European football.
8. AC Milan vs Inter Milan
The Derby della Madonnina, also known as the Derby di Milano or the Milan Derby, takes place between the two prominent Milanese clubs Internazionale and AC Milan. The Milan Derby is more than a mere fixture, it is a tradition in Italian football.
As far as derbies go, it is a complex one since the foundation and the ideologies of the two clubs are very different. A number of players have famously turned out for both sides, including Leonardo Bonucci, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andrea Pirlo, Christian Vieri, Ronaldo and Mario Balotelli.
7. Marseille vs Paris Saint-Germain
Le Classique (The Classic) is a football match contested between French clubs Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain. The clash is considered France’s biggest rivalry as well as one of the greatest derbies in European football.
The bad blood between PSG and Marseille extends beyond football. Paris and Marseille are the two largest cities in France and the most influential. Their football derby can be considered as South vs. North, which makes it one of the biggest football derbies in Europe.
6. Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke
The Revierderby (The River Derby) is the name given to any derby in North Rhine-Westphalia, but almost always refers to the derby between FC Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund. The cities of Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen are separated by less than 20 miles in the Ruhr region and for generations have been Germany’s center of coal and steel production.
Both cities have hugely passionate working class fans but with different origins. Schalke are affectionately known as die Knappen (the miners), while Borussia is a reference to a local brewery with fans coming from East Prussian immigrants who worked in local industry.
5. Liverpool vs Manchester United
The North West Derby is another tale of two cities with passionate working-class fans and is considered the most famous fixture in English football. This is largely the result of the success both clubs have enjoyed through the years.
However, it was the building of the Manchester Ship Canal that changed the dynamic between the two cities forever as the rivalry become one of two industrial cities competing for economic growth. Undoubtedly one of the biggest English football rivalries.
4. Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray
The Intercontinental Derby is the name given to the derby between Fenerbahçe SK and Galatasaray SK, two major Turkish teams from the Asian and the European parts of Istanbul.
An extremely fierce derby, first contested in 1909, it has some pretty unique origins. The rivalry was initially formed based on class but now both clubs have a fanbase from all walks of life. The conflict is still there though and often becomes so intense that the rivals fans damaging one another’s stadiums is commonplace. This one is up there with South American derbies in terms of intensity.
3. Lazio vs AS Roma
The Derby della Capitale (Derby of the capital city) is a local derby in Rome between Serie A clubs AS Roma and Lazio.
In essence, the Lazio fans are considered by their Roma counterparts to be outsiders, as in not coming from the city of Rome. Lazio fans on their part respond by informing the Roma tifosi that they were the first club in Rome.
The fierceness of the rivalry between the pair means it isn’t just one of the biggest Italian derbies, but one of the biggest in European football.
2. Celtic vs Rangers
The Old Firm is the collective name for the Scottish football clubs Celtic and Rangers, which are both located in Glasgow. The two clubs are by far the most successful and popular in Scotland and the rivalry between them has become deeply embedded in Scottish football culture.
Indeed, the rivalry reflects political, social and religious division between the two clubs and the city of Glasgow as a whole. The opening of a shipyard in Govan by the Belfast shipbuilders Harland & Wolff in 1912, is seen as the catalyst for politics to come into play in the Old Firm derby.
Despite Celtic dominating the SPL over the last ten years, Rangers still lead their head to head by three, with 162 victories to Celtic’s 159.
1. Barcelona vs Real Madrid
El Clásico is the name given to the derby between fierce rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The rivalry began in the early 1900s and has roots outside football. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), the clash became more than a football match.
Supporting Real Madrid or Barcelona is more than just supporting a football team, it is about identifying with fully-fledged political and cultural movement. Barcelona, the capital of the northeastern region of Spain known as Catalonia, took up a side with the Spanish Republic, a left-leaning political organization supporting an elected government in opposition. Madrid, however, came to be associated the Nationalist movement and a unified Spain under one Spanish flag and right-wing ideals.
El Clásico is completely in competitive matches as well, with each of the pair winning 96 matches and drawing a further 52. It is unquestionanly top of the biggest derbies in European football and may be the biggest in the world.
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