They attract the most attention, from setting records in stadium attendance to having the highest amount of television viewers. It is more than just football, it is an all out war between clubs and their fans with bragging rights at stake. For the fans of these clubs, nothing is better than a victory over the opposing side. Drumroll please as I present to you the 10 most prestigious rivalries in club football the world over.
- The clubs are arranged in alphabetical order when presented with their archrivals.
- Some clubs have more than one archenemy but in this list, only one rival in allowed per club.
- CAIRO DERBY (AL AHLY SC VS ZAMALEK SC)
Widely regarded as one of the greatest encounters in African football, the Caro derby or the Egyptian clasico is a match between the 2 most successful clubs in Egypt and, arguably, in Africa. Both teams are based in Greater Cairo. In general, the referees of important matches such as derbies are chosen with great caution to avoid partiality. The Egyptians, however, take it a step further by bringing in foreign referees.
- First meeting: Al Ahly 1 – 0 Zamalek (9 February, 1917)
- Total number of meetings: 160 (66 Al Ahly wins, 37 Zamalek wins and 57 draws)
- EL CLASICO DEL FUTBOL URUGUAYO (NACIONAL VS PENAROL)
The Uruguayan clasico between Club Nacional de Football and Club Atletico Penarol (formerly the Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club, CURCC) is the oldest football rivalry outside the UK as it was first played in 1900. It is a rivalry between the 2 most successful clubs in Uryguayan football with Penarol having won 48 Primera Division titles to Nacional’s 45.
- First meeting: CURCC 2 – 0 Nacional (15 July 1900)
- Total number of meetings: 533 (188 Penarol wins, 174 Nacional wins and 171 draws)
- REVIERDERBY (BORUSSIA DORTMUND VS FC SCHALKE 04)
It is referred to as the “Mother of all derbies” in Germany and also as the Ruhr derby as both teams are based in the German mining town of Ruhr. The fans of the two teams struggle to announce their team as the best in the town. At the same time, when the pride of the town is at stake, the two sides revel in each other’s success.
- First meeting: FC Schalke 04 4 – 2 Borussia Dortmund (3 May 1925)
- Total number of meetings: 152 (59 Schalke wins, 51 Dortmund wins and 42 draws)
- DERBY DELLA MADONNINA (AC MILAN VS INTER MILAN)
This is also known as the Derby di Milano or Milan derby and is played between the two most prominent Milan clubs, AC Milan and Internazionale (which is more commonly known as Inter Milan). It is one of the only major intra-city derbies in football that is played at the same stadium i.e. San Siro which is shared by both teams. The San Siro stadium is the largest in Italy with a capacity of 80,108.
- First meeting: AC Milan 3 – 2 Inter Milan (10 January 1909)
- Total number of meetings: 222 official matches (79 Inter Milan wins, 76 AC Milan wins and 67 draws)
- INTERCONTINENTAL DERBY (FENERBAHCE SK VS GALATASARAY SK)
The match is also known as the Eternal Rivalry and involves the 2 most successful clubs in Turkish football history. Both clubs call Istanbul home but they could not be more apart. Fenerbahce are on the Asian side of the Bosphorus strait while Galatasaray are on the European side. No friendlies have been played between the clubs since 1934 as the last one which was played on 23 February, 1934 ended with the players fighting.
- First meeting: Galatasaray 2 – 0 Fenerbahce (17 January 1909)
- Total number of meetings: 388 (146 Fenerbahce wins, 123 Galatasaray wins and 119 draws)
- NORTHWEST DERBY (LIVERPOOL FC VS MANCHESTER UNITED FC)
Considered one of the fiercest rivalries in English football and also as the most famous fixture in English football, the match is played between the 2 most successful clubs in English football history in both domestic and European competitions. This is one of the oldest rivalries in football in general as the first match between both clubs was played in 1894.
- First meeting: Liverpool 2 – 0 Newton Heath, now Manchester United (28 April 1894)
- Total number of meetings: 200 (80 Manchester United wins, 65 Liverpool wins and 55 draws)
- DERBY DELLA CAPITALE (LAZIO VS ROMA)
The Italians are notorious for labelling a lot of matches as derbies but hands down, this is the most important match in the Italian club year. Also known as the Rome derby, it is considered the fiercest intra-city Italian derby even ahead of the Milan derby. The fans of these clubs are not really interested in what position their clubs finish at the end of the season; the outcome of this match is seen as more important. The match is played in the Stadio Olimpico which is the largest sports facility in Rome and is also the home stadium for both clubs.
- First meeting: Lazio 0 – 1 Roma (8 December 1929)
- Total number of meetings: 171 official matches (65 Roma wins, 45 Lazio wins and 61 draws)
- OLD FIRM DERBY (CELTICS FC VS RANGERS FC)
This match is also known as the Glasgow derby and is played between the 2 most successful and popular clubs in Scotland which are collectively known as the Old Firm. The rivalry between the 2 clubs is also infused with religious and political disputes as the Celtics are seen as being supported primarily by Catholics and the Rangers by the Protestants.
- First meeting: Celtic 5 – 2 Rangers (28 May 1888)
- Total number of meetings: 414 (159 Ranger wins, 156 Celtic wins and 99 draws)
- EL CLASICO (BARCELONA VS REAL MADRID)
It is considered one of the biggest club football games in the world and is also one of the most viewed sporting events annually. The most well known derby in the world represents just not football but 2 sides in the same country. FC Barcelona has been the flagship institution of the Catalan people who have been seeking independence while Real Madrid has been linked to the Spanish royal family as seen by the presence of a crown in the club’s emblem.
- Total number of meetings: 238 competitive matches (95 Real Madrid wins, 93 Barcelona wins and 50 draws) and 272 total matches (113 Barcelona wins, 99 Real Madrid wins and 60 draws)
- SUPERCLASICO (BOCA JUNIORS VS RIVER PLATE)
This is arguably the biggest football club rivalry in the world and is between the 2 most popular and successful clubs in Argentine football history. Both teams are based in Buenos Aires. It has been described as making the Old Firm game “look like a primary school kick-about” by English newspaper The Observer in April 2004. Virtually every Argentine football legend has played for one or the other. Attending a Superclasico match was listed as number one of “50 sporting things you must do before you die” by The Observer.
- First meeting: Boca Juniors 1- 3 River Plate (24 August, 1913)
- Total number of meetings: 246 (88 Boca wins, 81 River wins and 77 draws)
BY UGOCHI OKORAFOR