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World Football: 15 Biggest Derby Games in Europe

Chris SiddellCorrespondent IIIDecember 10, 2011

World Football: 15 Biggest Derby Games in Europe

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    Europe provides football with some incredible derby games, but which derby is the biggest and best in European football?

    Nothing excites fans more than seeing their team take the spoils in an intense local derby.  These games are not just between two local teams, they are between rivals, enemies and competitors. 

    These are the 15 best derby games in Europe.

Honorable Mention

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    Manchester United vs. Liverpool

    This one is definitely one of the best rivalries in football, but it is not quite a derby.  The two most successful teams in English football both have their own derby matches against their true local rivals.

    Whilst Barcelona and Real Madrid can claim their derby game on grounds of differing political regions in Spain, England does not have that larger-scale derby game.

    These two just miss out on the basis that they aren't a real derby, just rivals in the league.

15. Bohemians vs. Shamrock Rovers

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    Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers are a couple of Irish teams not many people will have heard of outside of Ireland.

    The two clubs are not just city rivals in Dublin; they are also the two most successful clubs in Ireland.

    The reason their derby match is so intense, and often bitter, is to do with geography.  Both teams might hail from Dublin, but Bohemians are from the Northside, and Shamrock the Southside.  

    Dublin is split by the river Liffey, and those on the North shout for Bohemians, those on the South shout for Shamrock.  When the two collide you can expect fireworks, even if it isn't on the scale of the Premier League.

14. Liverpool vs. Everton

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    Liverpool and Everton provide one of the more famous derby games in England.  The two clubs have long been established in the top flight of England, although Liverpool is easily the most successful.

    The Merseyside derby comes in the list pretty lowly though.  Over the years, the two clubs have become accustomed to each other.  The success of Liverpool means they traditionally are heavy favourites for the game, with Everton looking for an upset.

    Fans are often seen showing off their colors in the "wrong end" of the ground.  Always an entertaining game and often controversial on the field, the Liverpool-Everton derby is still one of the best in Europe.

13. Red Star Belgrade vs. Partizan Belgrade

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    The Eternal Derby in Serbia is not one of the prettiest around.  Many outsiders would not be interested in the football being played, but instead the actions of the crowd.

    Fans from both Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade put in a huge amount of effort to their derby games.  Banners, flags and chants, all created for the one derby game.

    Unfortunately violence has also played a part in this derby, and supporters are known to clash around the game.  Definitely one of the most intense derbies in Europe, especially as a spectator, but it lacks the bite needed to make the top five.

12. Sunderland vs. Newcastle United

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    Sunderland and Newcastle United are two fierce rivals in the Northeast of England.  Although technically two different cities, there is no "gap" between the two.  They even share the same light rail network.

    Dating back to the late 1800s, the fixture has always attracted huge crowds.  The massive rivalry extends way beyond football.  

    In history the two cities have long been divided, first by the Romans with Hadrian's Wall.  Later the bitter rivals took different sides in the English Civil War, and once again in the Jacobite Risings.

    All this history has led to one of the most intense derby matches in Europe, even if it is one of the lesser known.

11. Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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    Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are two of the most famous clubs in England.  Both playing in the Premier League, their derby has long been a bitter affair.

    Shortly after the first World War, Arsenal were voted into the English First Division, at the expense of Tottenham.  A long-forgotten incident many modern fans are not likely to know, but before then the rivalry between the two appeared to be friendly.

    Like so many other derbies, games between Arsenal and Tottenham have become more intense in recent years as the clubs challenge for the same spot in the Premier League.

    Improvements in Tottenham have seen them challenge for Champions League football along with Arsenal, adding an extra edge to this derby.

10. AC Milan vs. Inter Milan

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    AC Milan and Inter Milan used to be the same club.  But back in the very early 1900s things changed.

    Several members of AC Milan were unhappy at the way only Italian players were allowed to play for the club.  So they went out and set up their own, in doing so along came the Milan derby.

    Inter and AC are so close, they even share a stadium, the San Siro.  Something very rare in world football.

    The two sides battle each season in one of the most hotly contested derbies in Italy.  Although both sides have had their ups and downs, traditionally they are both powerhouses of Italian football.  This makes the derby games between the two even more exciting.

    In recent years things have been ugly.  Back in 2005, a Champions League match between the two sides was abandoned due to crowd trouble.

9. Sporting Lisbon vs. Benfica

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    Sporting Lisbon and Benfica are two giants of the Portuguese game.  The Lisbon derby as such provides the most intense rivalry in Portuguese football.

    Traditionally, fans of Sporting Lisbon were among the wealthier members of society; Benfica represented the working classes.  

    Obviously the times of one club for the working class and one for the wealthy are long gone.  But that doesn't mean this derby is any less intense.

    A fantastic atmosphere coupled with some great football make this one of the best derby games in Europe.

8. Sevilla vs. Real Betis

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    Sevilla and Real Betis provide La Liga with a true local derby.  There are a few around, but this one really is one of the best.

    Originally just one club, a rift between board members led to the formation of Real Betis.

    To this day the rivalry is still intense.  

    Neither team are major players in La Liga, although they have made some impact in Europe.  With both teams not challenging for any real honours, the Seville Derby becomes the most important fixture of the year.

7. Olympiacos vs. Panathinaikos

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    Olympiacos and Panathinaikos provide us with another derby often marred with violence.  The two most popular clubs in Greece, both based in Athens, have fanatical supporters.

    The Greek Super League may not include the best players, but everyone knows about the fans.  

    On the field, Olympiacos and Panathinaikos are frequent winners and challengers for the league title, making this derby a real competitive affair. 

    This is one derby game that many fans will want to attend, not just for the football, but for the atmosphere. 

6. Manchester United vs. Manchester City

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    Manchester United and Manchester City is a derby almost everyone in the world will be talking about in the next few years.

    Rarely have both clubs been in such a position of power within the Premier League, and the fact they are bitter cross-town rivals anyway just adds to that.

    Once of the same stature as Liverpool vs. Everton, the Manchester derby was often looked as the second-most important game of the year for United fans, after Liverpool.  Not any more.

    With vast amounts of money being pumped into the club, Manchester City are now challenging United for the top spot in the Premier League.  

    United are desperate to hang onto bragging rights in the Premier League and beyond, making this one of the best derby games in Europe.

5. Lazio vs. Roma

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    Lazio and Roma share the historical city of Rome.  Their battles on the field are almost as spectacular as the battles fought in by the Roman Empire.

    Back in the 1920s there were several clubs in Rome.  The majority merged to create AS Roma, with Lazio the only team that resisted.  Now almost 90 years later, the battle for dominance in Rome is still going strong.

    Two incredibly passionate sets of supporters pull out all the stops, ensuring the atmosphere in this one is among the best in the world.  

    On the field, the players do their part.  Both teams have long been major players in the Italian Serie A, although they have never matched the achievements of their Northern rivals.  When these two meet you can expect excitement both on and off the field.

4. Schalke 04 vs. Borussia Dortmund

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    Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 provide Germany with their best derby game.

    The Revierderby involves the two biggest teams in the Ruhr region of Western Germany.  The football between the two traditionally has been very good, and exciting to watch.

    During one derby in 2008, Dortmund came back from three goals down to earn a 3-3 draw.  Great football and incredible fans make this one of the best derbies in Europe.

3. Fenerbache vs Galatasary

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    Fenerbache and Galatasary are both based in the Turkish city of Istanbul.  Right on the edge of Europe, this derby game has something no other in Europe can provide.

    Istanbul itself is unique—one half of the city is in Europe, the other half in Asia.  That gives the derby a little bit more spice.

    Two of the best teams in Turkish football, in one of the most intense derby games in Europe.  What more could this game need?  Well, it has the loudest fans in the world.

    In a recent derby game between the two sides, it was reported that Galatasary fans became the loudest ever recorded at a sports event.

    This is one derby game every fan should want to experience.

2. Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

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    Real Madrid and Barcelona play out el Classico in arguably the most famous derby in world football.

    A controversial entry on the list, especially with the omission of Manchester United and Liverpool.  But this derby is different.

    Yes there are a lot of miles between the clubs, but this is still a true derby.  Not between two teams who share a city or region.  But between two teams who share a country.

    The Spanish capital Madrid represents all things Spain, whilst Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia.

    The incredibly passionate fans still see a divide between Catalan and the rest of Spain, and that is played out on the field every time these two meet.

    As if that isn't enough to make this a great derby game, they just happen to be the two best teams in the world, probably.  

1. Rangers vs. Celtic

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    The rivalry great derby between Rangers and Celtic in Glasgow is know as the Old Firm.  One of the most famous derby games in world football, played out between the two giants of Scottish football.

    Football itself makes this an incredible game to watch, with Rangers or Celtic almost guaranteed to win the Scottish Premier League.  The winner of the Old Firm games is likely to be the winner of the Premier League.

    But that isn't all.  Glasgow is a city divided by more than just football.  

    Glasgow is notorious for its sectarianism, with the city divided into two groups, Protestants and Catholics.

    The green of Celtic represent the Catholic half of the city, whilst the blue of Rangers is seen as Protestant.

    At any Old Firm you will see a vast difference between the Irish flag wielding fans of Celtic, and the Union Jack wavers from Rangers.  

    Football, politics and religion all add together to make the Old Firm the best derby match in Europe.

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