10 World Football Clubs Living in the Shadow of Their City Rivals

Drew Farmer@calciofarmerContributor IApril 15, 2012

10 World Football Clubs Living in the Shadow of Their City Rivals

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    Many of the largest cities throughout the world are home to big football clubs, at least in most cases. These clubs not only inhabit an area or neighborhood, but are followed by a majority of fans throughout the city and even the country. 

    However, most of these cities have another slightly smaller and less successful club nipping at the heels of the more successful city dweller. 

    Major cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Munich all have world-class football clubs, but they each have lesser-known football teams which many fans outside the city—or country—may be unaware of. 

    With the gap in rich and poor growing in football, many of these clubs will continue to live in the cloud of their city neighbors. What follows are 10 clubs living in the shadow of their city rivals.

Cercle Brugge

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    For the last 113 years, Cercle Brugge has lived in the shadow of their city rivals Club Brugge. The two clubs may share the Jan Breydel stadium, but that is where many of their similarities end.

    While Club has won trophy after trophy—36 domestic trophies in all—and is only second to Anderlecht in their dominance of the league, Cercle has only lifted the first division title on three occasions. Their last came in 1930. 

    Cercle has lifted other trophies since then, however, picking up the second division title on four occasions and the Belgian Cup twice—most recently in 1985.

    Club is again near the top of the league, and is pushing for a place in next season's Champions League. Meanwhile, Cercle is set for their best finish since 2007-08 when they finished fourth, behind Club, and just missed out on the UEFA Cup tournament.

    Club has regularly seen success come in European competitions. In a three-year period from 1975 to 1978, they made it to the finals of the UEFA Cup and European Champions Cup—beaten by Liverpool in both finals.

    Cercle's European adventurers are much more modest. The green half of the city has only played in Europe on three occasions: 1985-86, 1996-97 and 2010-11.

    The Brugge derby has been dominated by Club as well, and in 132 meetings, the blue and black has won 83 times. This season, they have done the double over their city rivals and continue to claim bragging rights in what is a fairytale town

Notts County

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    A common misconception football fans make is that Juventus got their famous black and white kits from Newcastle United. However, that is untrue. Those famous kits were inspired by the oldest living football club in the world: Notts County. 

    The club was founded in 1862, and in that time, they have played in all four professional football divisions in England. They currently play in League One—England's third tier—where the club has played since 2010. 

    Much of Notts County's lower-league football has also coincided with the club's financial problems, and since the early 2000s they have moved from one owner to another. They haven't featured in the English top flight since 1991-92, and the club's only major trophy—FA Cup—was won in 1894.

    Notts County's city rivals, Nottingham Forest, may not be as big a club as they once were, but at one time they were one of the top clubs in English football. Fortunately, with David Pearce's seminal book The Damned Utd, a new generation of football fans have been introduced to Brian Clough and his exploits.

    Clough's reign at the City Ground resulted in Forest's most successful period in their history. Between 1975 and 1993, the club won their only First Division title—precursor to the Premier League—and two European Cups. They also secured four League Cups, now known as the Carling Cup.

    In contrast to Forest's success, Notts County only spent four seasons in the English top flight during that same period.

    Unfortunately, since Clough's reign, Forest has spent much of their time in the lower divisions. They currently play in the League Championship.

    Currently, Notts County sit just inside the League One playoff places, and if they win promotion, they could face Forest in the Nottingham Derby next season. The derby has been described in FourFourTwo Magazine as one of the friendliest derbies in football, due to both clubs rarely playing in the same division. 

    Despite Notts County's lack of trophies and lower-league status, they were invited to Italy this past preseason by Juventus. The Italians played Notts County in the inaugural match at their new stadium in Turin. The match ended 1-1, with both teams wearing their famous black and white stripes during the 90 minutes. 

    Since neither Notts County nor Forest have seen national success in more than 20 years, Forest's shadow has receded. Though it is Clough's legacy that keeps Notts County as the second team in Nottingham. 

Chievo Verona and Hellas Verona

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    Many football fans that do not follow Italian football closely will be forgiven if they are confused. Chievo Verona is technically not the biggest side from the city. Rather, it is Hellas Verona that most from the area consider the top club from the city— at least thanks to history.

    In reality, it is hard to say which club is living in the other's shadow right now. In recent years, it's Hellas living beneath Chievo, while it was the other way around prior to the millennium. 

    Though Chievo has established itself as a consistent top-flight team since their return to Serie A in 2008, they are still considered to be the city's second club. The club was originally founded in 1929, but didn't see much success until Luigi Campedelli, owner of Paluani Cake Company, took over. Chievo isn't even situated in the middle of the city of Verona; rather, it is located in a suburb on the outskirts of the city.

    Meanwhile, Hellas has been around since 1903, and they played their first top-flight match in 1957. The club even did the unthinkable in 1984-85 when they won Serie A. Much speculation over the assignment of referees—each referee was picked through random draw—has been credited with the reason Hellas lifted that season's Scudetto. 

    Italian football did away with the randomized selection of referees following that season, and no minnow has achieved the same success of that Hellas squad. 

    While Hellas shuffled between Serie A and B following their league triumph, the club has played all their football in the lower leagues since 2002, even dropping down to Serie C at the end of the 2006-07 season. Last summer, the club was promoted back to Serie B and is a candidate for back-to-back promotions this season

    Chievo, on the other hand, didn't play their first Serie A match until 2001-02. They finished fifth in their debut season and qualified for the UEFA Cup. That season also saw the first ever Verona derby (il derby della Scala) contested, with both clubs notching a win in the two matches played. 

    Since then, no league derby has been played between the sides. However, next season could see the first in 10 years.

Sparta Rotterdam

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    Despite Feyenoord Rotterdam's success throughout their history, Sparta Rotterdam lays claim to being the oldest club in all of the Netherlands. The club's roots were laid in 1888 by a group of students. It wasn't until 1908 that the club that became Feyenoord was established. 

    The city of Rotterdam possesses three professional football clubs—the most of any city in the Netherlands. Though the most famous is Feyenoord, Sparta Rotterdam still claims a large amount of the city's football fans. Excelsior take a smaller amount due to their status as a feeder club to Feyenoord, and being located in an area that as most recently grown into the city.

    Since the mid-1960s, Sparta has seen 46 years come and go without a trophy. Their last, the Dutch Cup, was won in the 1965-66 season, and makes up one of nine pieces of silverware in the club's trophy cabinet. 

    Feyenoord has not only won more trophies (33) than their city rivals, but the club has also seen numerous famous players and managers walk through the doors of their De Kuip stadium.

    The most famous of course was Johan Cruyff, who signed with the club in a revenge tactic against Ajax. Cruyff had just completed the 1982-83 season with the Amsterdam club, but was not offered a new contract. He signed with the club's archrivals Feyenoord and immediately led the club to the Dutch double.

    In 2002, Sparta was relegated for the first time in their history from the Dutch top flight. It took them three seasons to return to the Eredivisie. Unfortunately for the club, they were once again relegated in 2010 and remain in the country's second division.

    Not only is Feyenoord one of the three clubs to have dominated Dutch football—PSV and Ajax the others—but the club has never been relegated either. In recent times, the club has had financial difficulties that seemed destined to push the club to the bottom of the league.

    This seemed even more likely with the club's atrocious form in October 2010, when PSV put 10 goals past Feyenoord. However, the club has recovered and Feyenoord is currently pushing for a spot in Europe for next season.

    The three clubs in Rotterdam contest the city's derby. Though, the games have been called a "friendly" derby in recent years. The match between Sparta and Feyenoord may not be the highly contested match it once was, but it still has a lot of tradition. Sparta was once seen as the upper class, while Feyenoord came from the working-class neighbourhoods. 

    Feyenoord's on-field success has overshadowed Sparta since the late-1960s, and it doesn't look like ending any time soon. Sparta may never return to the heights it once graced, but it is a club of history and tradition in the country's second city.

St. Pauli FC

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    Affectionately known as the pirates of the Bundesliga, St. Pauli is known worldwide for its unique club culture. However, despite their notoriety, they have still lived in the shadows of city rivals Hamburg SV. 

    The club hasn't always been known as a club of counterculture. Prior to the 1980s, the club was just a normal "traditional" football club.

    However, it was in the '80s that the club began to embrace their region of the city. The club's home ground is situated in the Reeperbahn area, the red-light district, and this connection to the area has allowed their fanbase to grow. 

    Despite the club's fanbase and club culture, they have never been one of the top sides in the league. The club has spent many years bouncing back and forth between the top flight and the second division. They even dropped out of the second division between 2003 and 2007, a time in which they plied their trade in the third level of German football. 

    Hamburg, on the other hand, has never spent a day outside the top flight—though that may be in danger this season—and is the only club to play every season in the Bundesliga. 

    While Hamburg has won six Bundesliga titles, one European Cup, one Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cup, St. Pauli has made headlines in other ways. The club has played friendlies against the likes of punk rock outfit Bad Religion for charity.

    They have also been considered one of the more progressive clubs in Europe. During the '80s hooligan explosion, St. Pauli began running anti-hooligan, anti-racist and anti-homophobia campaigns. The club has even had an anti-commercialism stance, though they allegedly in much need of funds. 

    St. Pauli is currently just outside the promotion places in the Bundesliga 2, after being relegated from the top flight last season. Meanwhile, Hamburg is near the drop zone and may find themselves outside the Bundesliga for the first time in their history.

Paris FC

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    Rugby has long been the French's favourite past time, leaving football a distant second. In the late 1960s, the plan was devised to bring football back to the forefront of French society, and what better place to start than in Paris?

    Football had been under the radar in the capital for some time, and Paris FC was founded in 1969 to address the problem. The club hoped to bring top-level football to Paris. However, before they could claim first division football, they had to start lower in the league structure. 

    Then entered Stade Saint-Germain, a second-division club from the western suburbs of Paris, who merged with Paris FC one year later. This gave birth to Paris Saint-Germain.

    However, the marriage between the two wouldn't last, and Paris FC split from Paris Saint-Germain in 1972. 

    Paris FC remained in the top flight, while Paris Saint-Germain moved to the third division. However, Paris' time in the first division wouldn't last, and two years later they were relegated.

    Coincidentally, this happened at the same time that Paris Saint-Germain achieved top-flight status. To rub salt in the wounds of Paris FC, Paris Saint-Germain even acquired their stadium, Parc Des Prince, from right under their noses. 

    Since 1979, Paris FC has played every season in the lower leagues of French football. They have even dropped down to the semi-professional and amateur fourth division, where they spent six seasons. 

    The club currently plays in the third tier of French football, the Championnat National. 

    Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain went on to win the French Ligue 1 title twice, the Coupe de France on eight occasions and one Cup Winners' Cup.

    Recently, Les Parisians spent the most money of any club in world football over the past year. In 2011, the club was taken over by Qatar Investment Authority, and they spent $143 million in an attempt to compete with the best teams in Europe. 

    It may be some time until we see a Paris derby in France's top flight, and to this day the two clubs have never played a league derby before. 

    *Note: No data on a PSG vs. Paris FC top-flight match was found. The only match reports found were in regards to PSG and Parisian teams other than Paris FC, and vice versa.

TSV 1860 Munich

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    At one time, 1860 Munich dominated the Bavarian football scene, which is hard to believe nowadays. The club has suffered several near-financial meltdowns since they were relegated from the Bundesliga in 2004.

    However, the club’s fortunes were much different long ago. 

    The club’s success was so high before and after World War II that they were invited to join the Bundesliga ahead of city rivals Bayern Munich in 1963. Bayern had to wait two years before joining the league themselves. 

    The most successful period for 1860 was after the introduction of the German top flight. In 1964, the club picked up the German Cup—they had won it previously in 1942—and the following year they were runners-up in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. 

    In 1966, the club won its first and only Bundesliga title, beating Borussia Dortmund and Bayern to the post by three points. Unfortunately, the trophies dried up after that, and they followed up the next season with a second-place finish. 

    In 1970, the club began a cycle of relegation, mismanagement and misfortune. Between 1970 and 1994, the Bavarians spent 20 years in the lower leagues. This occurred at the same time as Bayern’s rise in German and European football. 

    Upon their return to the Bundesliga in ‘94, the club’s shrewd management established 1860 as a top-flight team for the next 10 seasons. At the turn of the century, 1860 even qualified for the Champions League thanks to a fourth-place finish.

    In 2004, 1860 outraged fans when they agreed a ground share with city rivals Bayern, owning 50 percent of the Allianz Arena. This wasn’t helped by 1860’s owners being found guilty of corrupting construction contracts. Nor the amount of money the club put into the project. Due to the club’s financial mismanagement following the deal, they sold their share of the arena to Bayern in 2006 to stay afloat. 

    Again, Bayern was ready to step in to save the day in 2011, when 1860 was close to insolvency. However, the club was rescued by Hasan Abdullah Ismaik to the delight of the supporters. The Jordanian pumped needed capital into the club and saved it from further problems. 

    As of Matchday 30, 1860 Munich sit seven points from the promotion playoff place. Meanwhile, city rivals Bayern are attempting to win their 23rd German top-flight title.

Atletico Madrid

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    "The Mattress Makers"—as Atletico is affectionately called by supporters—have won numerous trophies over their illustrious history, including La Liga and the Copa del Rey nine times each. Yet, they have always been the city's second team behind Real Madrid.

    Atletico was founded in 1903, one year after their hated rivals, by three Basque students living in the city. They formed the club as branch to that of Basque club Athletic Bilbao. 

    Compared with Real Madrid, Atletico's original fanbase came from the working class of the city. This is one reason given for their nickname Mattress Makers. Though several other explanations have also been given.

    Nowadays, both clubs' fans come from all backgrounds and all parts of the city, and the original lines that separated them have been blurred.  

    Much of the club's early history is filled with success. However, they have always been one-upped by Real Madrid. The club hasn't won a domestic trophy since they completed the double in 1995-96.

    Since that time, Atletico has picked up European silverware. The club defeated Fulham in the Europa League Final in 2009-10 and followed it up by knocking off Inter to win the UEFA Supercup a few months later. 

    However, Atletico's nine league titles, nine Copa del Rey trophies and five European trophies pale in comparison to Real Madrid's haul. The Whites have collected 31 league titles and may get their 32nd this season. They have also won the Copa del Rey 18 times—most recently beating Barcelona last season.

    Real Madrid also holds the record for the most European Cup wins with nine. Though it has been 10 years since their last European Cup, they are odds-on favourites by many to lift the trophy this year.

    In recent derbies, Real Madrid has fared the better of the two clubs. The club hasn't lost to Atletico since the spring of 2000, and easily handled their city rivals twice this season already. 

    At the end of 2011, the Mattress Makers appointed former player Diego Simeone as manager after a run of poor results. He has the club mid-table, but results have been mixed since he took over. However, the club is going strong in the Europa League and has qualified for the semifinals. 

    Compared to many of the clubs living in the shadows of a city rival, Atletico has fared well. The club will move into their new 70,000-seat stadium in 2015, which will replace their current home the Vicente Calderon, where the club has played since 1966.

Torino FC

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    Juventus is one of the most famous clubs not only in Italian football, but in the world. They make up one of the big three in Italian football alongside Internazionale and AC Milan. However, for some time, it looked like Torino would rival and possibly overtake their city nemesis for supremacy of Turin. 

    The club was founded in 1906 and was made up of businessmen and former Juventus members. The former players were unsatisfied with Juventus and angered over the club's possible move away from the city. 

    The two clubs played their first derby—Derby della Mole—a year later, and since then, they have gone on to symbolize the two different sides of the city.

    Juventus, owned by the wealthy Agnelli family, has long been followed by the educated. Though many Fiat factory workers—the Agnelli family's company—and much of Italy have always followed the Turin-based club regardless of financial status.

    Meanwhile, Torino has been the club of the Turin working and middle classes. Rarely followed by those living outside or growing up outside of the Turin area. 

    Torino has won seven Serie A titles, but that pales in comparison to Juventus' 27. Juventus has won a Serie A Scudetto in each decade since the 1920s. However, that was in doubt during the 1940s thanks to "Il Grand Torino," the name given to the record-setting Torino team whose records still stand today. 

    The 1940s was a decade of great success for Torino. The club won five league titles in six seasons and were considered by many of the time to be the best team in the world. 

    Tragedy would strike the club in May 1949, however, ending much of what was built through the '40s. As the club flew back from a match in Portugal, their plane crashed into the rear wall of the basilica on on top of Superga. All 31 passengers aboard the plane died in the crash.

    With four games remaining in the season, the club fielded its youth team, and out of respect for the club and those that died, Torino's remaining opponents did the same. The team won the matches and secured the Scudetto—their last until 1975-76. John Foot's Winning At All Costs recounts the Superga Air Disaster in great detail. 

    Despite winning only a single title since the days of Il Grand Torino, the club has won the Coppa Italia and Serie B on three occasions respectively.

    The Turin-based clubs once contested the Derby della Mole every season. However, since the mid-'90s, Torino has often found themselves in the second division. The clubs haven't played a derby since the 2008-09 season, when Juventus won both matches. Next season could see the two reignite their feud if one of the great clubs of Italian football can win promotion. 

RCD Espanyol

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    No club in world football is more in the shadows of a city rival than Espanyol. Founded in 1900 by students at the University of Barcelona, the club has continued to exist under the cloud of FC Barcelona, as Espanyol has had minor success.

    Espanyol was founded by Spanish citizens, unlike Barcelona, who was founded by Swiss, English and Catalan players in 1899. Unlike Barcelona, Espanyol has never been a club most Catalans can get behind.

    This dates back to an era before and after the Spanish Civil War in 1936-39. The club's desire to enlist Spaniards from all over Spain didn't sit well with many early on, and that was the catalyst to today's differences in the two clubs' fanbases: Barcelona's large worldwide support; Espanyol's localized support.

    While Barcelona supported Catalan independence from Spain, Espanyol was on the opposite side. Their club members favoured Spain as a whole, and when they built their first stadium, the club chose the well-to-do area of Sarria. This area and image of the club gave a much smaller population from which to draw fans.

    The club's home in Sarria was closed in 1997, and for 12 years the club was forced to play home matches at the Estadi Olimpic lluis Companys. After more than a decade in the stadium, the club moved to its current home, the newly-built Estadi Cornella-El Prat. 

    The new stadium has also moved the club outside of Barcelona and into an area that is much different than their original home of Sarria. The hope is Espanyol can attract new fans from the people who have immigrated to the city during the middle of last century. 

    On the football pitch, the club hold a record that no other La Liga team can claim. Espanyol has played more La Liga seasons without winning a league title than any other team. 

    However, the club has won a trophy, Spain's Copa Del Rey, on four occasions. Most recently, they won the trophy in 2006, and it was followed with a run in the UEFA Cup, where they were defeated by Sevilla in the final. 

    Espanyol has been a constant in the Spanish top flight for over 10 years now, and this season may shape up to be one of their best. They currently sit just outside a European place.

    Both Espanyol and Barcelona are having typical years for their standards: Barcelona at or near the top; Espanyol somewhere behind them. 

    Drew Farmer is a writer and Genoa club correspondent for ForzaItalianFootball.com, and has been featured on MajorLeagueSoccerTalk.com and EPLTalk.com. Follow him on Twitter @calciofarmer


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