What is the biggest rivalry in football history?

1. El Clasico- FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid FC

The biggest rivalry of all time, the El Clasico has been the biggest sporting rivalry that the world has ever witnessed. Played between two of the biggest clubs in the world, the rivalry is mainly because of differences in ideologies between both clubs. The centralised tendencies of Madrid have always clashed with the Catalan identity of Barcelona which made the derby a lot more political.

The first clash between both teams was in 1902 and since then the hatred has been growing since. Barcelona has the most wins between these two with 123 wins and Madrid falling behind at 102. But the biggest win came in 1943 with an 11-1 scoreline for Madrid. This derby has seen the biggest stars and greatest legends playing the game and it has also made this derby the best in the world.

2. The Old Firm- Celtic FC vs Rangers FC

Based in Glasgow, Scotland, the fierce battle between Celtic FC and Rangers FC has found a special place in the heart of football fans as The Old Firm. Both clubs have been the most successful clubs in all of Scotland and this shows how much intense the derby gets.

Started back in 1888, the derby has registered a total of 434 meetings with Ranger coming in top with 168 wins. Celtic isn’t far behind with 164 wins though. Rangers got an upper hand in winning the league three more times than Celtic but Celtic has won the Champions League which Rangers couldn’t get their hands on.

3. Derby Della Madonnina- AC Milan vs Inter Milan

Also known as Milan Derby, the world has seen matches being abandoned because of the chaos that ruptures in the San Siro whenever these two play. First met in 1909, Derby Della Madonnina between AC Milan and Inter Milan has seen more chaos than any other derby. Graced by some legends of the game, it really intensified the rivalry and made it one of the biggest rivalries in the world.

Inter Milan had the upper hand in the derby with most wins and also in the league titles under their belt but AC Milan has seen more European success than their bitter rivals. And whenever we think of this derby the picture of Marco Materazzi playing for Inter and Rui Costa playing for AC Milan gazing at the flared-up stands always comes to our mind.

4. North West Derby- Manchester United vs Liverpool FC

Always been bitter rivals in the North West side of England, Liverpool vs Manchester United  has been a fierce battle for either side. The first took place in 1884 when Manchester United was still called Newton Heath, the derby has come a long way. The matchup between these two has always been a gruesome affair.

With heavy tackling, dirty fouls, and notorious plays, it has been entertaining as well as gruesome to some extent. Manchester United has enjoyed most of the wins between these two with 82 wins; Liverpool isn’t far behind with 71 wins. But the biggest victory for Liverpool was the recent humiliation of 7-0 back in March 2023 at Anfield.

5. Superclasico- Club Atlético Boca Juniors vs Club Atlético River Plate

The sheer atmosphere and the emotions that are being poured into this match-up cannot match up with any rivalries in the list other than the Superclasico. The biggest South American derby by any standard, the match between River Plate and Boca Juniors has its own legacy.

The city of Buenos Aires in Argentina is always divided between these two sides. First met in 1913, the rivalry between them is something that every fan around the world looks forward to. With the most wins going to Boca Juniors with 91 and River Plate not lacking behind with 84, this derby has seen a lot of legends playing for either side

6. Derby of Eternal Enemies- Panathinaikos FC vs Olympiacos FC

The Greek has always put up a mighty fight whether it’s mythology or football. The city of Athens roars up when these two teams face off in the derby of eternal enemies. Olympiacos FC and Panathinaikos FC share a heritage of a kind in the fearsome rivalry between them. Formed on the basis of the class divide, the rivalry has been fuelled by the essence of social, cultural, and economic differences.

Panathinaikos founded in the heart of Athens are backed by the high class while Olympiacos is backed by the working class in the port region. But this divide didn’t let the port club be more successful than its fiercest rivals, winning the league as well as the derby the most times Olympiacos always had the bragging rights but in the recent derby Panathinaikos came with a 2-0 win.

7. Istanbul Derby- Fenerbahce SK vs Galatasaray SK

The city of Istanbul has its fair share of devotional fans for the game of football and it is seen when the two of the biggest club of the city face off each other in one of the fiercest matches in the whole of Europe. Starting around 114 years ago in 1909, the rivalry between Fenerbahce SK and Galatasaray SK is no less than a riot in the city.

The rivalry is not just on the pitch but the city turns into a battleground and riots start when these two play each other. Fenerbahce has the most success in the derby but couldn’t replicate the same in the league and also in Europe. Galatasaray has more success than their rivals with 22 Turkish Super League Titles to Fenerbahce’s 19 titles.

8. Eternal Derby- FK Partizan vs Red Star Belgrade

First played in 1947 and being founded having two different political ideologies in the post-World War II period, the city of Belgrade witnesses two of the most successful clubs in Serbia. FK Partizan and Red Star Belgrade face off in the Derby of Southeast Europe which is said to be one of the fiercest in Europe.

The intra-city rivalry has seen a total of 169 league meetings between the two with Red Star winning 67 of them and Partizan winning 47. Red Star is the most successful of both clubs in terms of league titles as well as European success, but that doesn’t stop making the rivalry such a fierce one.  

9. Derby De France- Paris Saint-German vs Olympique de Marseille

Played between two of the biggest cities in France, Deby De France is also known as Le Classique showcases the fearsome rivalry between Paris Saint-Germen and Olympique de Marseille. It is the most significant derby in France.

Paris Saint-German started as a fan-owned club and Olympique de Marseille was founded by aristocrats, this has instigated a lot for the rivalries to be this intense. The first meeting was in 1971 when Marseille won by 4-2, it is in these recent times PSG is having the upper hand with the Qatari takeover and having a side that has been practically unbeatable in the country.

10. The Ruhr Derby- Borussia Dortmund vs FC Schalke 04

Also known as the Revierderby, the rivalry between the two cities of Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr region of Germany has to be one of the fiercest rivalries in the world. The first meeting between them happened in the 1924-25 season in the pre-Bundasliga era, it saw Schalke winning the match by 4-2 setting a tone for 18 years of derby dominance. But in the Bundesliga era, the Yellow and Black have had the upper hand over the Royal Blues. Dortmund has won 36 games in total and Schalke isn’t far behind with 32 wins during the derby.

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