Romelu Lukaku vs. Chelsea and 9 Other Big Grudge Matches
Romelu Lukaku faces his former club Chelsea on Saturday evening for the very first time since the giant frontman left Stamford Bridge to join Everton in acrimonious circumstances earlier this month.
However, the Belgium international's story is just another chapter in football’s long history of grudge matches, some longstanding affairs, others more recent...
Romelu Lukaku vs. Chelsea
Powerful striker Romelu Lukaku opted to quit Chelsea to sign for Everton earlier this month in a deal worth a whopping £28 million after growing disillusioned with life at Stamford Bridge under Blues boss Jose Mourinho.
And following his departure from west London, the self-styled Special One had a sly dig at his former charge by telling reporters that the Belgium forward “was not highly motivated to come to a competitive situation at Chelsea.”
Ouch. Very ouch.
However, Lukaku himself hit back in the media after completing his club-record move to Merseyside, stating that: “I need to play at a high level and play in a good team.”
All of which makes Mou’s trip to Goodison Park with Chelsea in front of the Sky cameras on Saturday night all the more spicy…
Sheffield United vs. West Ham United
Sheffield United beat West Ham United on penalties in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup second-round tie at Upton Park to enact a sliver of payback on the Hammers following the notorious "Carlos Tevez Affair" of seven years ago.
Back then of course, the little Argentina attacker’s goals—including a crucial last-day winner at champions Manchester United—had somehow managed to keep the east London outfit in the Premier League, albeit at United’s expense.
However, it subsequently turned out that West Ham had broken Premier League rules governing third-party ownership of players, including both Tevez and compatriot Javier Mascherano, with the Blades awarded £20 million in compensation by an independent tribunal.
And yet if West Ham had been docked points, like United claimed should have happened, then they rather than the Bramall Lane outfit would have been relegated to the Championship.
Ian Wright vs. Peter Schmeichel
These fierce competitors never saw eye-to-eye on the football pitch, with Manchester United-Arsenal fixtures in the 1990s often best remembered for the ugly spats between the duo.
The origins of the pair's clear dislike for each other began during a clash between the Red Devils and Gunners back in 1996 when the striker and shot-stopper became embroiled in a heated exchange of words.
However, that initial tete-a-tete then reached new levels of bile the next time the two Premier League giants met at Highbury a few months later following a nasty-looking two-footed tackle by the England international on the Danish No. 1.
And thereafter, the two were always at war…
England vs. Argentina
These two great footballing rivals have never really got on since Argentina captain Antonio Rattin was controversially sent off in a World Cup quarter-final against England at Wembley in 1966.
However, it was more Three Lions manager Sir Alf Ramsey’s post-match description of the South Americans as “animals” that really set relations between the nations on a downward spiral, culminating in yet another bad-tempered meeting in the last eight of the World Cup 20 years later.
Only this time it was Argentina who were the ones smiling at full time after skipper Diego Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” goal had helped to eliminate the English, with the playmaker later claiming in his autobiography that he had deliberately cheated in order to gain revenge for the 1982 Falklands War.
Roy Keane vs. the World
During the Manchester United captain’s illustrious yet stormy 12-year Old Trafford career, the box-to-box midfielder endured more than his fair share of scrapes with opponents such as Alan Shearer, Alf-Inge Haaland and even his own boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
But of all the volcanic moments involving the combustible Irishman, it was his head-to-head with Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira in the tunnel ahead of yet another titanic meeting between the two fierce Premier League rivals that will live longest in the memory (see video).
The incident was caught live on camera by Sky for all to see as the two stubborn competitors, like stags butting antlers, prepared to lead their teams out onto the pitch at Highbury nine years ago.
Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid
Sure, it is a Madrid derby, so one would expect a fair amount of enmity between the two capital clubs, although the level of hatred that seems to now exist between both teams is on an unprecedented level.
And that reflects Atleti’s recent upturn in fortunes on the pitch under head coach Diego Simeone, with the Argentinian firebrand having led his side to an unprecedented level of success of late.
In turn, that has brought Atletico more into conflict with their archrivals from across the city, resulting in some explosive encounters between the blue-collar men from the Vicente Calderon and their upstart neighbours from the Santiago Bernabeu.
So much so in fact that when Atletico beat Madrid on their own ground to win the 2013 Copa del Rey final, the match was marred by the issuing of 14 yellow cards and the dismissal of both Real playmaker Cristiano Ronaldo and boss Jose Mourinho.
And that’s before we even begin to mention Simeone’s touchline eruption in last season’s UEFA Champions League final (see video) involving the two Spanish giants.
Sir Alex Ferguson vs. Arsene Wenger
Rival Manchester United and Arsenal managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger endured years of mutual loathing following the latter's arrival to English football to take charge of the Gunners in September 1996.
And as the Frenchman's team started to gain more and more success in the capital, largely at the Red Devils' expense, so the pair's relationship deteriorated even more, culminating in some ferocious touchline encounters in between the two men.
The nadir, however, came with "Pizzagate" in 2004, when the Scot somehow found pizza all over him in the tunnel following a particularly bad-tempered league encounter in between both sides at Old Trafford.
Luckily for all involved, the old foes declared a truce five years ago which largely held firm until Fergie's retirement in 2013, thanks in no small part to the north Londoners' 10-year drought without a league title win.
Milton Keynes Dons vs. AFC Wimbledon
Milton Keynes Dons and AFC Wimbledon despise each other, and with good reason too, after the way in which the former came into existence.
Back in 2003, MK Dons were formed as a club after Wimbledon upped sticks and decided to relocate 54 miles from south London all the way to Buckinghamshire, much to the obvious displeasure of the Dons faithful.
Consequently, AFC Wimbledon was born out of protest at the move, with a strong dislike emanating between the two ever since, giving an added edge—if one were needed—to two recent cup clashes involving both teams.
Netherlands vs. Germany
Due to longstanding historical reasons stretching back to the Second World War, when the Nazis occupied Holland, these two football superpowers have never much got on.
In fact, whenever the Dutch and Germans have played each other in the intervening period, which more often than not has been in high-level tournaments in 1974, 1988 and 1990 (above picture), there have been fireworks both on and off the pitch.
And perhaps the level of hatred between the nations was best summed up by Netherlands midfielder Wim van Hanegem, who said prior to the 1974 World Cup final that saw the first clash involving the two since the end of the war, per Amy Lawrence of The Guardian: "I don't like Germans. Every time I played against German players I had a problem because of the war."
Liverpool vs. Manchester United
There is no bigger grudge match in English top-flight football than that between its two most successful sides, Liverpool and Manchester United.
However, in recent years, especially since the Red Devils' resurgence under Sir Alex Ferguson following the inception of the Premier League in 1992, the magnitude of the fixture has only grown at a similar pace to that of the hatred between the opposing sets of fans.
And in particular, the presence of either onetime Reds coach Rafael Benitez in the opposition dugout or that of former forward Luis Suarez on the pitch has only served to further fan the flames of discontent between the clubs of late.