The 100 Most Heated Rivalries in Sports

Zack Pumerantz@z_pumerantzAnalyst IIIApril 4, 2012

The 100 Most Heated Rivalries in Sports

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    Flooded with world-class athletic talents, high-flying personalities and ruthless competitors, the sports world naturally features plenty of personal and team competitions amid the search for greatness.

    Rivalries have always exhilarated fans and sent journalists into frenzies, but never cease to create worldwide disdain. 

    Ah, the sweetness of sports—the truth behind fanbase passion.

    Whether two teams are scratching for that extra bit of respect, two nations are clawing for supremacy or two legends are fighting for a deeper carving in sports lore, these illustrious rivalries shadow our sports passion with their memorable matches.

    Let's take look at the 100 most heated rivalries in sports history.

    Epic. Indelible. Chaotic.

100. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers

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    It's known as the Battle of Pennsylvania, a passionate and competitive hatred between two Atlantic division teams, both yearning for their state's spotlight.

    But while the teams began facing off in 1967, the rivalry truly picked up steam with the arrival of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in the '80s.

    The early part of the 21st century saw this rivalry reach its prime, as the Penguins were finally prospering and had defeated the Flyers in the 2008 and 2009 postseasons.

    Dripping cheesesteaks always on the line.

99. Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    Two of the best punch artists in the world, one a loudmouthed talker with a stacked, untouchable resume and the other a humble star quietly cementing his name in the record books.

    While these two have yet to meet, their hate for each other has been made quite obvious, be it through interviews, tweets or rumors.

    We're anxiously preparing ourselves for what we expect to be the most epic fight in recent memory.

    Now get it done already...

98. SL Benfica vs. FC Porto

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    Perhaps the most significant match in Portuguese football, O Classico (as it's referred to) has sparked quite the interesting war between two renowned clubs.

    While SL Benfica dominated until the 1970s, they lost their prosperity to FC Porto in the 1980s, '90s and the early part of the 21st century.

    The hatred between these two clubs goes far beyond the soccer field.

97. Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Missouri Tigers

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    Now that Nebraska has moved to the Big Ten and Missouri is set to transfer to the Southeastern Conference, this once-exuberant rivalry is unfortunately no more.

    Following a close competition through 1978, the Cornhuskers went on to win 24 straight matchups (1979-2002), supplanting themselves as the prominent team.

    As the rivalry lost steam, fans could only reminisce about the rich past.

    Meeting 103 times since 1892 is sure to spark a historic hatred.

96. Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless vs. the World

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    Few expressions better define the relationship between these two equally baffling journalists than Stephen A. Smith's patented "child, please" look.

    Misguided bickering, utterly nonsensical comments and an inability to listen to anyone else headline this potent feud.

    Deep down, these two have an unspoken tension that needs settling.

    Perhaps a nice seafood dinner would do them some good.

95. Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots

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    With four Super Bowl victories (three by the Patriots) and six AFC championships since 2001, these teams have often found themselves in a battle for AFC prosperity.

    Ironically, they were AFC East rivals from 1970 to 2001, including the time when the Colts were still in Baltimore.

    But only after their move to the South did their feud truly pick up.

94. Ben Hogan vs. Sam Snead

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    "The three things I fear most in golf are lightning, Ben Hogan and a downhill putt."—Sam Snead

    While Ben Hogan was overshadowed by his legendary rival in tournament wins (82 to 61), it was his four U.S. Open victories and Snead's failure to win any that made him the prominent star.

93. Georgia Bulldogs vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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    Only 70 miles separate these highly competitive programs, with electric hatred flooding every crevice.

    But their yearly rivalry game is referred to as clean, old-fashioned hate, a moniker that reeks of irony, yet somehow defines their intriguing relationship.

    Their mutual disdain has been flourishing since 1893, and doesn't seem close to dwindling.

92. Detroit Red Wings vs. Colorado Avalanche

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    This lovely brotherhood began with Detroit and the Quebec Nordiques, before the latter's move to Denver.

    From 1996 to 2002, the Wings and Avalanche met five times in the playoffs and combined to win five Stanley Cups and four Presidents' Trophies.

    But this eloquent rivalry is headlined by the Bloody Wednesday, a '97 brawl that was in retaliation of Claude Lemieux's check on Kris Draper from behind, driving Draper's face into the boards and sending him to the hospital with a broken jaw and crushed psyche.

91. Howard Bison vs. Hampton Pirates

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    This yearly fiesta, as we'd like to believe it should be called, is often so huge it demands a bigger venue.

    After these two teams squared off at RFK Stadium in 1999, they played at Giants Stadium the following meeting.

    A ferocious matchup between two historically black schools, this rivalry continues to shadow Division I football.

90. Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

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    While Minnesota and Wisconsin hold fierce rivalries in the MLB, NBA and the Big Ten Conference, it's their NFL clash that has us tingling with excitement.

    With Randy Moss' fake moon to the Green Bay crowd, Brett Favre's move to Minnesota and the Packers' 53-48-1 all-time record over their rivals, this NFC North battle has never ceased to thrill anxious crowds.

    We're flooded with purple cheese every time these two play.

89. Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran

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    Before the first meeting between these two legendary fighters, Sugar Ray Leonard (named boxer of the decade for the '80s) had never lost and was almost eliminated in the second round by a truculent Roberto Duran. 

    Duran would win by decision in 15 rounds, with the two set to meet again only months later.

    With Leonard sprinkling a bit more of his own sugar on the second fight—a speedier and less flat-footed approach—he hit Duran so much that the Panamanian boxer quit.

    A third fight later in their careers was uneventful, yet brought back memories of a heated rivalry that was.

88. Michael Johnson vs. Maurice Greene

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    For those who don't believe in karma, all we must do is look back to the 200-meter Olympic qualifying event in 2000 for proof.

    Endless trash-talking, mutual intimidation and cocky approaches led Maurice Greene and Michael Johnson to strange mid-race injuries.

    They were so struck with talent that their bodies couldn't handle the pressure any longer.

87. Hope Flying Dutch vs. Calvin Knights

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    More than just a local Michigan rivalry, these Division III basketball programs have quietly sustained quite the competition.

    They've played 178 times since 1920, with Hope leading the series 91 to 87.

    This level of college ball features pure, passionate and humble athletes just yearning for a chance to compete.

86. Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi

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    With both player's holding the World No. 1 spot during the 1990s, Sampras and Agassi were perhaps the closest thing to Borg-McEnroe we'd ever seen. 

    Sampras held the top spot for a record 286 weeks while Agassi held it for 101 weeks, yet the two always produced masterpieces during their 34 matches between 1989 and 2002. 

    Contrasting styles never cease to pleasantly collide.

85. Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral

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    Despite winning 11 of his 15 races in 1937 and being the highest earner of all the horses, Seabiscuit watched Triple Crown winner War Admiral take home the American Horse of the Year Award.

    If only horses could talk...

    The two would eventually meet in the Match of the Century, a race that saw Seabiscuit defy all odds, ruin all bets and make history. 

84. UConn Huskies vs. Tennessee Lady Vols

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    And no, we're not referring to Jim Calhoun vs. Bruce Pearl.

    Perhaps the only female basketball rivalry to achieve consistent national attention, this vicious battle features two schools that are coached by crafty legends (Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt combine for over 1,800 wins), have combined for 15 national championships and often flood the WNBA draft with top prospects.

    While they did discontinue regular-season play against each other in 2007, the teams will always be fierce enemies.

    As of early 2007, UConn led the series 13-9 (5-2 in the tournament and 4-0 for the title).

83. Manning Family vs. Tom Brady

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    It was sparked by Peyton and continued/finished by Eli...the Manning family against Tom Brady.

    While Peyton is statistically perhaps the best to ever play the game, he could never seem to beat his arch nemesis (excluding the 2006 AFC championship game).

    His younger, seemingly less talented brother, however, beat Brady in two Super Bowls (2008 and 2012), cementing his name among the best winners in history.

    Brady's still scratching his head.

82. Ford vs. Chevrolet

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    After 1956 champion Buck Baker switched from the Chrysler 300-B to a Chevrolet in 1957, a heated rivalry was initiated, as these two companies would produce 31 of the next 49 NEXTEL Cups.

    There has only been one champion to drive for both sides.

    Ned Jarrett won in 1961 driving a Chevrolet Impala, and then switched to a Ford Galaxie and took home the trophy in 1965.

    Perhaps the most underestimated, unappreciated competition in all of sports.

81. USA vs. Mexico

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    With the two powers of the CONCACAF federation battling it out for supremacy, bad blood is bound to form—and it certainly does.

    Mexico is 23-0-1 on their home soil, the United States 7-13-9 on theirs...quite the contrast. 

    But the World Cup qualification matches and major tournaments such as the CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa América always host breathtaking meetings between these two opposing cultures.

80. Korea vs. Japan

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    This clenching rivalry goes far past the soccer field, as many are still bitter over Japan's 35-year occupation of Korea, which ended in 1945.

    It doesn't matter that Japan is ranked No. 30; this is a battle of revenge, anger and frustration.

    Always the juiciest games.

79. Thomas Hearns vs. Marvin Hagler

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    Undisputed champion Marvin Hagler against world junior middleweight champion Thomas was the 1985 fight known as "The War," or rather eight minutes (three rounds) of murder.

    As these two jabbed for respect, fans could only drop their jaws in admiration.

    Perhaps the most entertaining, action-packed fight in history.

78. New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

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    Something about Baaston and New York strikes fierce rivalries, and the Jets/Pats is another notch on the old belt for the two territories.

    With 51 wins apiece, it's clear this is a bruising competition every time these teams meet.

    But the rivalry has picked up steam in recent years, as playoff thrillers and personnel exchanges have headlined the mutual hatred.

77. Spain vs. Portugal

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    Both countries located on the Iberian Peninsula, both countries owning a rivalry that has existed for hundreds of years...which naturally spread onto the football field.

    In 2004, Spain was tied with Greece at top of the Group A, needing only a draw against Portugal to get into the next round. Portugal won 1-0 and made it to the finals, before losing to (of course) Greece.

    At Euro 2008, Spain got revenge by beating Portugal and winning the tournament.

    Fernando Torres and Cristiano Ronaldo have only ignited this intriguing rivalry.

76. Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Before the Syracuse Nationals moved to Philly in 1964, the Celtics had a thorough rivalry with the Philadelphia Warriors, featuring Wilt Chamberlain against Bill Russell.

    But when the Warriors moved to San Francisco after 1962, the Celtics yearned for a new enemy...and the former Syracuse Nationals were the next target.

    Once they moved and became the 76ers, team owners acquired Chamberlain to reignite the rivalry.

    After several years of playoff battling and then a mundane lull in success, these two found themselves once again at each others throats—literally—after the Sixers acquired Julius Erving before 1977 and the Celtics drafted Larry Bird in 1978. 

75. Florida State Seminoles vs. Florida Gators

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    When the two oldest public universities in Florida face off, they play for more than just in-state bragging rights. At least one team is often highly ranked and highly determined to reach the national championship.

    After the Gators set the tone in the 19 games played before 1976, the Seminoles flipped the script.

    FSU leads 19-18-1 over the last 38 meetings, with the Choke at Doak game (1994) that featured 28 fourth-quarter points from the Seminoles headlining the historic matchup.

74. New York Yankees vs. New York Mets

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    The Big Apple brawl to some, the Subway Series to others...Yanks vs. Mets is perhaps the most heated intra-city rivalry in all of sports (or maybe just New York).

    While the Pinstripes have dominated the baseball world for almost a century, it's been the exuberance of the often-youthful Mets that has this feud picking up steam.

    But let's be honest—the 2000 World Series was the most ruthless fan war in recent time, before the Yanks trounced the Mets in five games.

73. Lehigh Mountain Hawks vs. Lafayette Leopards

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    Separated by 17 miles of passion, these two schools headline the most-played football rivalry in the nation.

    Having faced off 147 times since 1884 with only a single interruption (1896), these teams sparked a bitter feud long before trophies were instituted, meaning game balls were the ultimate prizes of these games. 

    This always memorable meeting is often sold out months in advance, so get on that.

72. Wisconsin Badgers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    Sure Wisconsin leads the oldest rivalry in FBS with a 37-24-3 record, but it's the winning prizes that have us intrigued...and hungry.

    Amid the 120 editions dating back to 1890 have been two interesting awards.

    The illustrious Slab of Bacon, a piece of wood with an M and W inscribed in it (depending on how it is hung), was given out until 1943, when it was allegedly lost.

    Paul Bunyan's Axe was the replacement in 1948, giving players plenty to play for.

71. AFL vs. NFL

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    Boy, do we wish the AFL still existed...dare we say it was more exciting than the NFL, before the two merged in '69?

    Broadway Joe. Billy Cannon. The Mad Bomber. Ike Lassiter.

    Fierce was an understatement.

70. Syracuse Orange vs. Georgetown Bulldogs

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    This rivalry was first sparked in 1980, with each team ranked in the Top 10 and Syracuse on a 57-game home winning streak.

    And you can bet Georgetown snapped that streak in the final men's basketball game played at Manley Field House.

    During the next 10 seasons, the two schools would meet eight times in the Big East tournament, four times in the finals and glamorously during the regular season, with matchups always a priority on national television.

69. Jimmy Connors vs. John McEnroe

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    They were seen as the two bad boys of tennis, rebels if you will, ready to play for the first time at the Grand Prix Masters '79, Connors already an established superstar and McEnroe a young phenom from New York.

    Connors saw McEnroe as good practice for him, yet eventually lost and was not pleased to have his thunder stolen by a newcomer. 

    Name-calling headlined this violent matchup, yet McEnroe would quietly finish 20-13 in head-to-head matchups.

68. Grambling State Tigers vs. Southern Jaguars

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    Not only is the spectacular Bayou Classic the best known game and rivalry in historically black college football history, but it is the only Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) game to be shown regularly on broadcast television.

    While Grambling leads the overall series 30-29, it's the Bayou Classic that always has fans drooling.

    Quite the battle.

67. New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys

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    The NFC East has always been competitive, balanced and full of anger.

    This rivalry, however, is quite unique in that it is the only one in sports that features a New York and Texas area team.

    But like any great feud, this battle saw legendary coach Tom Landry get drafted by the Giants in 1947, play for several years, join the coaching staff and cement his name...before signing on with the 'Boys as their first head coach.

    He finished 35–17–2 against the Giants in 29 seasons.

66. Jake LaMotta vs. Sugar Ray Robinson

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    Two of the best in the business, LaMotta and Robinson met for the first time in 1942, a fight that saw Sugar Ray defeat his ferocious opponent in 10 rounds.

    But it was only a taste, as the two would meet a year later...twice in three weeks (a Robinson loss and a decision).

    They met a few more memorable times before finally colliding in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, a fight that saw Robinson destruct his opponent's face with a viciousness that had fans cringing.

    Sugar Ray gave fans quite a sweet display.

65. Chelsea F.C. vs. Arsenal F.C.

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    Arsenal supporters may consider Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur their more traditional rivals, but it's Chelsea's status as competing neighbor that keeps these London clubs battling for the top spot.

    After Chelsea's rise to the top of the Premier League in the early part of the 21s century, these two teams began to compete for the English championship more regularly, and not just during the local football derby.

64. Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders

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    While most start with a bang or pick up steam somewhere along the line, this AFC West rivalry has stood the test of time and continues to thrive.

    After the Broncos beat thaaa Raidaaas in the AFC Championship game 20-17 at the end of the 1977 season on their way to the Super Bowl, a rivalry was sparked.

    The two clubs have met on Monday night 19 times, with 12 of the games being decided by seven points or less.

    Consistent and pure hatred has headlined this colorful matchup.

63. New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers

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    Precisely known as the Hudson River rivalry, the bad blood between these two clubs stretches back to the 1980s, after the Devils moved from Colorado to the Metro area.

    The chilly rivalry is headlined by two memorable years, '94 and '95, that had the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup and the Devils following suit, respectively.

    They always seem to bring the most passion out of each other as they battle for territorial respect.

62. Brazil vs. Argentina

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    The Battle of the South Americans, as it's kindly referred to, began during the colonization of America, with Spain and Portugal fighting for the two territories. 

    Records are insignificant, as bloodshed and fractured tibias have headlined this violent rivalry.

    None more notorious than the match in 1946, when fights ensued, police were thrust onto the field and fans rushed on.

    An ugly series of battles continued.

61. Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State Spartans

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    The Paul Bunyan trophy (two seems like enough already) is given to the winner of the Michigan derby, as we'd like to call it.

    While Michigan State trails the overall series 67–32–5 since it was sparked in 1898, the Spartans have won the Trophy the last four years in a row (2008-2011).

    Neighborly misconduct on the gridiron is rarely mundane.

60. John McEnroe vs. Bjorn Borg

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    Ice against fire, beauty against beast, cool against was the contrasting of styles that made Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe such a prolific matchup.

    They met 14 times at the regular tour, with seven wins for each, and played in perhaps the greatest tennis match in history.

    The 20-minute fourth set tie-breaker during the 1980 men's singles final at Wimbledon gave the sports world a true understanding of this talented, yet contrasting tandem.

59. New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders

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    As the only New York rivals in the same conference and division, the Rangers and Islanders have an obvious, exuberant hate for one another and it shows every time they step on the ice.

    Fans on both sides can rarely stomach the courage to compliment their metro area enemies.

    The ultimate Battle of New York.

58. Texas Longhorns vs. Texas A&M Aggies

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    It's a brotherly grudge game that dates back to 1894, a Thanksgiving-weekend tradition, more than just a football game...Texas state pigskin, it doesn't quite get better.

    From Texas owning 1940-1974 by going 31-3-1 to A&M evening the keel with a 19-17 record over the last 36 years (prior to 2012), it's clear this roller-coaster ride will be missed.

    Set to join the SEC, these two rivals will surely miss each other.

57. Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal

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    While Arsenal leads the all-time series 61-48-41, with 13 titles to the Spurs' two, the North London derby goes far beyond stats for these two neighboring clubs.

    Essentially down the block from each other, these contrasting fans not only fume over their local opponents, but seemingly scream for blood.

    Not quite chivalrous football at its finest.

56. Sean Avery vs. the Entire NHL

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    It's no secret we love agitators, but not those who disrespect the game.

    Sean Avery has been bordering on insane since the start of his tumultuous, controversy-filled career on ice.

    Alleged racial slurs, sloppy-second comments and a pure determination to avoid class and respect have made Avery arguably the most hated player we've ever had the displeasure of watching.

55. Australian Kangaroos vs. New Zealand Kiwis

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    Since meeting for the first time in 1908 (New Zealand won 11-0), these two rugby clubs have sustained quite the ferocious rivalry. 

    But amid their 125 matches are 93 Australian wins, 29 New Zealand wins and three draws.

    These matches are always extra sloppy.

54. Montreal Canadiens vs. Quebec Nordiques

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    With both teams owned by competing breweries, it was clear this rivalry was set for some extra hops.

    Lasting from 1979-1995, when the teams played each other five times in the playoffs (Canadiens winning three), the Battle of Quebec featured a memorable 1984 meeting that essentially presented the relationship between these two clubs.

    The second-round of the 1984 NHL Playoffs (known as the Good Friday Massacre) was clogged with 252 penalty minutes, 10 ejections and plenty of smashed noses, poked eyes and ruined careers.

53. Richard Petty vs. David Pearson

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    The greatest rivals in the history of Nascar, Petty and Pearson were as tight knit as they come, as they finished first and second in either combination 63 times from 1963-1977.

    But it was the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 1976 that cemented their legends.

    After crashing into each other in preparation of eluding one another, Pearson rolled across the finish line at 20 miles per hour, while his equal laid on the grass amid a dead engine.

    An awe-inspiring moment in racing history.

52. USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins

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    Despite the laid-back, bright aura of California, this rivalry is among the most heated in college football.

    With both campuses only twelve miles apart and located within the same city, fans and players are often at each other's throats.

    USC's 21-20 victory in the 1967 Game of the Century with the Conference Championship, National Championship and a Heisman Trophy on the line for Gary Beban and O.J. Simpson headlines this established rivalry.

51. Williams vs. Amherst

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    There are few rivalries featuring as much passion as the one between Williams College and Amherst, often attracting crowds of 10-15,000 and plenty of adrenaline.

    These teams often battle it out during a season finale grudge match that began in 1884, with Williams leading the all-time series 68-48-5 as of '07.

    But seeing these small schools engage such large crowds, present such vigorous performances and take the illustrious walk from Weston Field right up the middle of Spring Street to St. Pierre's Barber Shop is truly inspirational.

50. Manchester United F.C. vs. Liverpool F.C.

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    Some call it the North West derby, others pure madness, but either way this historic rivalry never ceases to amaze us.

    Both hailing from the North West of England, these clubs are the most successful England soccer teams, as they have 119 honors between them (60 for Manchester United and 59 for Liverpool).

    The pinnacle of England footballing.

49. Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets

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    Ignited by Jim Bunning's perfect game on Father's Day of 1964 (the first in Philly history) and continued by several brawls in the '80s, this heated NL East rivalry could almost now be seen as lethargic.

    Considering these teams have rarely been successful at the same time, it wasn't until 2006 that this mutual hate really picked up.

    But the battle for the NL East's top spot rages on, as these two clubs (and their fans) don't know where to start when describing the mutual disdain.

48. USA vs. USSR

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    Two countries, geopolitically and ideologically opposed to each other (to say the least), were ready to face off at the 1980 Winter Olympics to a packed Field House.

    While one miraculous victory by the United States doesn't quite make a rivalry, perhaps the notorious third-inbound at the 1972 Olympic basketball matchup can cement this as among the best ever.

    This feud went far beyond the playing field.

47. Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal

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    As the only male pair to have finished six consecutive calendar years as the top two ranked players on the ATP Tour (2005–2010), Federer and Nadal continue to lead the tennis world.

    They've played 28 times, with Nadal leading the series 18–10, and have played in a record eight Grand Slam finals.

    But Nadal's victory at the memorable 2008 Wimbledon final was perhaps the greatest tennis match in history.

46. Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox

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    The battle of North and South Chi-town, or rather the Windy City Showdown, features two clubs aching for inner-city respect.

    While the White Sox lead the regular-season series 41–38, this matchup is more in depth than solely statistics.

    During the founding of the American League, Charles Comiskey moved his Saint Paul Saints minor league franchise to Chicago, to the dismay of the Cubs owner.

    A rivalry was forever sparked between the North and South Siders.

45. Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson

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    While we prefer Woods vs. himself, Phil "Lefty" Mickelson has been perhaps a more realistic rival for the legendary golfer.

    Although the latter's previous choking nature once made this a bit more fierce in nature than it does on the stat sheet.

44. California Golden Bears vs. Stanford Cardinal

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    It's the tenth longest rivalry in NCAA Division I FBS football, with Stanford leading the series record at 57–46–11.

    And while it features pregame bonfires, rallies, reunions and blood drives, the historic element of this matchup is perhaps The Play from the 1982 Big Game.

    After Stanford had taken a 20-19 lead with four seconds left, the Golden Bears took the ensuing kickoff, with five laterals and the band running onto the field, for a memorable, often-controversial touchdown.

43. Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Considering one or both of these two rivals have been ranked in the top-25 coming into 61 out of 66 games since 1945, it's easy to see why the Red River Rivalry is often spotlighted around the nation.

    Rarely without national championship implications, these games often display one fanbase on one half of the field and vice versa.

    Intriguing aesthetics to say the least.

42. Arnold Palmer vs. Jack Nicklaus

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    Once a fan favorite and legend on an island of his own, Palmer saw a fervent Nicklaus approach the golf scene with no qualms about grabbing the title for himself.

    It was Nicklaus' performance during the 1962 U.S. Open, when he overcame a three shot deficit to Arnold Palmer to force a playoff, that had fans salivating...before he beat Palmer 74-71 in the overtime to put viewers in awe. 

    They may have been respectful and loving on the course, but these two surely tightened their focus every time they met.

41. Fenerbahce SK vs. Galatasaray SK

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    Involving two of the most successful clubs in the Super Lig, the Intercontinental Derby's roots trace back to 1934, during an expected friendly match between Fenerbahce SK and Galatasaray SK.

    What was first harmless turned into a widespread fight on the pitch, with referees eventually abandoning the match (and the war zone).

    To say violence is expected during these matches would be a brutal understatement.

40. Germany vs. England

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    When England beat Germany in four straight matches after the teams met for the first time in November of 1899, it was clear a heated rivalry would be sparked (although not many of us can truly concur).

    The 1966 FIFA World Cup Final reigns supreme among other notable matchups, including the semi-finals rounds of both the 1990 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 1996.

    While Germany may consider the Netherlands to be its main rival, its fans must still be fuming over Geoff Hurst's questionable goal in the 1966 World Cup.

39. Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    As the only two teams in the AFC North to have won Super Bowls, both priding themselves on hard-hitting defenses and ruthless ground games, playing each other twice a year for divisional supremacy, it's no wonder these two teams despise each other.

    And their games are always bloody, crippling and exhilarating.

38. Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield

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    While few fans remember an amateur Holyfield defeating Tyson in 1984 to make the historic U.S. Olympic boxing team that won nine gold medals, it was perhaps a significant sign of things to come.

    The two met as professionals for the first time in 1996, with Holyfield finishing off a stunned Tyson.

    But a bloody rematch would see Iron Mike snack on his opponent's ear in what is among the most notorious performances in boxing history.

37. Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell

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    They met 142 times in 10 years, including six Eastern Conference Championships ('60, '62, '65, '66, '67 and '68) and two NBA Finals ('64 and '69) doesn't get much more personal.

    But while Wilt was the statistical master (beating Russell 29-24 in rebounds per game and scoring 50 or more points against him seven times), it was Russell's nine championships to Chamberlain's one that had this constant bout shifting towards the Boston area.

    Bill Russell was perhaps the only opponent who could even keep up with his fellow giant.

36. Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Most thrilling during the time when both teams were part of the Big Eight Conference (before 1996), this rivalry saw OU and Nebraska meet for 71 consecutive seasons.

    Nebraska's 25–21 defeat of No. 19 Oklahoma in 1959 ended their 74-game conference win streak, sparking even more madness.

    Ah, the good days of old.

35. Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. USC Trojans

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    With each team having 11 national championships and seven Heisman Trophy winners, this is arguably the most tightly-knit intersectional (and prosperous) rivalry in all of college sports.

    USC and ND combined have more All-Americans, College Football Hall of Famers and future NFL Hall of Famers (21) than any other rivalry series.

    And dare we forget USC's 472 draftees (first all time) and Notre Dame's 469 (second all time).

    Quite the talented tandem.

34. Harvard Crimson vs. Yale Bulldogs

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    Beginning in 1875, when football was still evolving from rugby, this historic competition became the second oldest continuing rivalry and also the third most-played rivalry game in college football history. 

    For these two programs, the illustrious bout has been the final game of the season since 1900, considering Ivy League teams often don't participate in the playoffs.

    We'd like to believe all the games are photographed in black and white.

33. Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals

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    Bitter enemies in football (first played in 1912) and basketball (1913), these two programs may not be in the same conference, but certainly battle it out every year for Kentucky supremacy as the two biggest colleges in the state.

    Dick Vitale's belief that this is the third biggest rivalry in college sports makes us true believers, baby!

33. Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Amid the 118 meetings between these two storied clubs is a split Youngstown, Ohio fanbase eager for a bruising display of hard-nosed pigskin.

    While the Browns have faded from the Turnpike rivalry a bit considering their lack of recent success, this rivalry remains heated, beloved and the oldest in the AFC.

31. Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

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    Pure money-hungry hatred between these two clubs, having won a combined 27 division titles and eight Super Bowls.

    Sure they're the two wealthiest franchises in the NFL, but this rivalry has been fuming since the 'Boys joined the league as an expansion team in 1960.

    They were placed in the same conference the following year and the disdain only grew.

30. Missouri Tigers vs. Kansas Jayhawks

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    Stemming from the Civil War era, when Missouri's pro-slavery society attempted to influence Kansas' entrance into the union, this collision isn't only the oldest college sports rivalry west of the Mississippi River, but features plenty of bad blood between fans.

    But now that Missouri will leave the Big 12 for the SEC, it seems the future of this rivalry is quietly dwindling.

    We'll never forget the famed Border War.

29. AC Milan vs. Inter Milan

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    The Chiasso Cup of 1908 was the first derby meeting between these two Italian clubs, and the Derby della Madonnina has continued to excite worldwide diehards at least twice every year.

    Inter Milan was once known for its bourgeoisie-esque support, while AC Milan was backed by the working class.

    But with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi now owning AC and businessman Massimo Moratti owning Inter, the differences have seemingly dissipated...however, the hate still flourishes.

28. Army Black Knights vs. Navy Midshipmen

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    There's no game more significant to the survival of the American people than the Army-Navy battle that commenced in 1890.

    While Navy leads the all-time matchup with a record of 56-49-7, it was the first appearance of the instant replay in 1963 that makes this fierce competition even more historic.

    This interservice rivalry is perhaps the most bruising in all of college football.

27. Michael Jordan vs. Detroit Pistons

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    This renowned, albeit short-lived rivalry began in 1988, when Air Jordan was MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and had just led his feisty Bulls past the Cavs in the first round of the playoffs.

    But then came the mighty bad-boy Pistons, ever eager to destroy their prolific opponent.

    They beat the Bulls in five games, and met them again during the following year's Conference Finals, using the supposed "Jordan Rule" (guarding only MJ) which they stated was a ploy to get into their opponents' heads.

    A brutal battle every time.

26. Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

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    Considering these two historic franchises have played each other more times (regular season and the playoffs combined) than any other two teams in NHL history, their pure disdain for each other is quite understandable.

    In postseason play, they've met for a total of 170 games and faced off eight times in Game 7 situations.

    It all began on April 8, 1952, when Maurice "The Rocket" Richard scored a blood-dripping, 1952 Stanley Cup Semifinals-winning goal against Sugar Jim Henry after returning to the bench following a concussion.

25. Florida State Seminoles vs. Miami Hurricanes

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    Any two teams in the same vicinity are bound to have a fist-clenching battle for respect every time they meet, and this battle for Floridian supremacy is no different.

    To put the annual matchup into perspective, the 2006 Miami–Florida State game was the most watched college football game in ESPN history, and the 2009 and 1994 meetings were the second and fifth-most watched regular season games, respectively.

    This nail-biting clash has featured plenty of wide-right, wide-left kicks to break hearts across the state of Florida.

    It doesn't get any better.

24. England vs. Australia

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    Known as The Ashes, the biennial series between England and Australia cricket teams includes five Test matches with two innings per match.

    Having played since 1882, the teams have been involved in 66 series, with Australia winning 31 and England winning 30.

    This thorough rivalry has found itself in pop culture as well.

23. Ayrton Senna vs. Alain Prost

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    This teammate rivalry began in 1988, when Alain Prost joined Senna on the McLaren team.

    The heat picked up at the Portuguese Grand Prix, where Senna (R.I.P.) tried to prevent his teammate from taking the lead by forcing him towards the pitwall.

    It only got steamier at the 1989 San Marino Grand Prix, where the two had agreed not to get in each other's way...

    Didn't quite work out that way, as these two would collide and battle for years to come.

22. New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Having played in the rough NFC East together since 1933, these teams hold plenty of anger towards each other.

    Amid the bevy of notable moments, including Larry Csonka's fumble in 1978 and Matt Dodge's ludicrous punt to DeSean Jackson in 2010, was Chuck Bednarik's clean blindsided hit on Giants running back Frank Gifford that sent the tailback into an 18-month retirement due to a severe concussion.

    Plenty of bad blood between these blue and green enemies.

21. St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs

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    Once referred to as the Route 66 series, but now better known as the I-55 Series, the Cubs-Cards rivalry is an intriguing, closely matched battle that began in the late 1800s.

    While the Cubs may lead the all-time series with a record of 1,092–1,049 through 2011, they pale in comparison to their soaring enemies in World Series wins (Cards have 11, Cubs have two).

    The 1989 and 2003 pennant races were for the ages.

20. Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova

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    Perhaps the greatest collision in sports history, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova faced off 80 times during their fifteen-year rivalry from 1973 to 1988.

    With Navratilova leading the series by a slim margin, 43–37, these two left quite symmetrical legacies, almost simultaneously, on the tennis court.

    Don't be fooled by their eloquent smiles, these two were bitter enemies.

19. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics

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    While we'd love to feature Bird and Magic, this rivalry began long before their arrivals, starting in 1959.

    They would end up facing each other six times in the '60s and three times in the '80s, while their 33 championships are more than half of the 65 in history (they met a record twelve times in the NBA Finals).

    Two of the most storied, historic franchises in history have never shied from memorable performances.

18. Jack Johnson vs. Society

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    While he's remembered as the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915), during the pinnacle of the Jim Crow era, Jack Johnson was perhaps the most important boxer in history. 

    After becoming a champion, Johnson became the first person ever to knock down James J. Jeffries in a professional bout after the white population searched for someone who could defeat the new star.

    Racism and Johnson's affinity for white women certainly left his country fuming, and missing out on some of the greatest performances ever.

17. Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

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    Among the two most prestigious clubs in NFL history, daaa Bears and Packers have won a combined 22 NFL championships (including 5 Super Bowls) and have 48 members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    But this historic engagement began in 1921 and has since become the league's longest rivalry, with 184 regular season and postseason games.

    With Chicago leading the all-time series 92–86–6, the Cheeseheads are naturally thirsting for blood every time they see their NFC North enemies.

16. New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat

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    Before the fiery battle for Eastern conference respect, the NBA had never seen two teams meet in the playoffs four straight seasons, with each series extending to the maximum number of games.

    With Pat Riley having coached for the Knicks previously, his presence added an intriguing element to the heated war between both teams.

    Jeff Van Gundy's renowned grasp of Alonzo Mourning's leg will always headline the bad blood between these two teams.

15. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling

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    It was America vs. Nazi Germany, the Brown Bomber vs. the Black Uhlan of the Rhine, Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling...two fights that permanently cemented themselves in far more than sports lore. 

    While clearly memorable bouts (Schmeling won the first by knockout in Round 12 and Louis won the second by knockout in Round 1), these battles stood to represent the political and social conflicts of the time period.

    One world against another.

14. Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers

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    Let's take a step back and remember the 1972 Iron Bowl, known as Punt Bama Punt.

    With the Tigers trailing No. 2 Alabama 16-3 and only a few minutes to play, they somehow blocked two punts and returned both of them for touchdowns to shock their opponents by a score of 17-16.

    Not only did it eliminate 'Bama's dreams of a national championship, but it left a terrible taste in their fans' mouths. 

13. River Plate vs. Boca Juniors

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    There are few local rivalries as powerful as the one between beloved Argentine football clubs River Plate and Boca Juniors.

    The Superclasico featuring these two teams is passionate, ruthless and quite popular.

    They attract about 70 percent of all Argentine football fans between them.

12. Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames

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    Not only did these two teams make up eight of the possible 16 Stanley Cup Finals appearances between 1983 and 1990, but they faced off in the epic Battle of Alberta (1986), which was decided by rookie Oiler defenseman Steve Smith's own goal.

    As these Albertan clubs battle for respect, they look back on perhaps the most memorable playoff series of all time.

    The first round of the 1991 playoffs featured seven goals by Esa Tikkanen and a historic seven-game finish.

11. Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants

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    This mutual dislike began in the late 19th century (1890 to be exact), during the days when both clubs were in New York City.

    When Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley moved his team to Cali, he convinced Giants owner Horace Stoneham to do the same in order to preserve the rivalry.

    These NL West teams each have the most National League pennants with 21 and six World Series titles.

    Plenty of broken Big Apple hearts along the way.

10. Duke Blue Devils vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    They may be only eight miles apart along U.S. Highway 15-501, but the conflicting natures (UNC is public, Duke private) of these schools have led to quite the heated rivalry.

    Two of the four winningest teams in history, getting frisky twice a year in the Battle of Tobacco Road (the tobacco producing area of North Carolina)...having featured the likes Jordan, Hill, Dean Smith and Coach K; It doesn't get any more historic.

    The Cameron Crazies always add an intriguing element.

9. Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Flourishing since 1926–27, this icy rivalry had these to two clubs face each other in more regular season games than any other two clubs in NHL history.

    From the early days of the Original Six teams to the present, these teams have scratched and clawed for that extra inch (thank you for the quote Al Pacino), with the Red Wings a tad more successful.

    Ok so maybe that's an understatement.

8. Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

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    Perhaps the only rivalry that will feature a 72-year-old coach getting tossed to the dirt by a mid-30s fireballer, the Red Sox-Yanks historic disdain dates back more than a century, long before Babe Ruth was sold to the Yanks by owner Harry Frazee.

    These teams met in the last regular-season series of a season to decide the league title in 1904 (the Red Sox won) and 1949 (the Yankees won).

    But the cultural impact is what sparked this rivalry, as Boston was known for its prosperous education, economy and art, while New York was seen as a poor, overpopulated melting pot of sorts.

    After a thrilling period of success from 1901 to 1918, the Red Sox took a back seat to the flourishing Yanks, who now rest with 27 World Series rings.

7. India vs. Pakistan

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    Following the partition of India in 1947 and the independence of the Muslim state of Pakistan, these two cricket teams have had a vigorous, heavily intense rivalry that is only suspended during times of war.

    Violent fans, millions of expected viewers and testy matches have helped sustain this flourishing competition.

    No crickets chirping during these games.

6. Celtic F.C. vs. Rangers F.C.

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    These Glasgow football clubs, collectively referred to as Old Firm, have not only played each other 397 times, but have 96 Scottish League championships, 67 Scottish Cups and 41 Scottish League Cups between them.

    With Rangers supporters known to be native Scots and Celtic supporters historically being Irish-Scots, along with political and religious difference, this rivalry has become quite heated over time.

    The vicious on-pitch battle following the Celtic's 1–0 victory in the 1980 Scottish Cup Final led to alcohol being banned from Scottish football grounds.

5. Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

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    Perhaps the most watched club football match in the world (other than the UEFA Champions League Final), Real Madrid vs. Barcelona is a matchup that always instills stress among the fans.

    As the two richest, largest and most successful clubs in Spain battle for that next trophy (Barcelona has 75, Real Madrid has 74), fans go into frenzies.

    With conflicting political views, these cities are always eager to reign supreme.

4. Finland vs. Sweden

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    Czechs vs. Russians, Canada vs. USA...Sweden vs. Finland, yeah this one is perhaps the most bitter of them all.

    They've been rivals since the the 1200's, when the Swedes claimed Finland as part of Sweden and disregarded the Finnish culture as second-rate citizens.

    A 3–2 loss to Sweden in the 2006 Olympics left quite the bad taste in Finnish mouths, only heating this rivalry up further.

3. Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Since the British defeat of Quebec at the Plains of Abraham in 1759, their have been serious tensions over English and French-speaking Canadians, a feud that found itself on the ice when the NHL was created in 1917.

    But it was the period from 1944 to 1978 when the rivalry truly took off.

    The two teams met each other in the playoffs 15 times and faced off in five Stanley Cup Finals during those 34 years, and their blood-thirsty battles set a tone for the future.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines

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    It's known as The Game, a blood-thirsty, hard-fought battle between two powerhouses, both looking to determine the Big Ten Conference title and the eventual Rose Bowl matchups.

    The illustrious game has been an annual event since 1935 (excluding 1942, 1986 and 1998), and has featured quite the bevy of memorable contests.

    None more historic than the Snow Bowl (pictured), a game that saw Ohio State's punter kick the ball 21 times for 685 yards amid an unbearable tundra of frozen water.

    It is perhaps the greatest rivalry in North American sports.

1. Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali

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    Ali was a hero to the blacks, a chatty, bordering far beyond arrogant loud-mouth with hands of steel.

    But he seemingly depicted his rival as the white man's hope, an "Uncle Tom" if you will, who was different and eventually seen as a villain.

    However, Frazier (R.I.P.) just yearned for the moment he could pay back his talkative opponent with a nice collection of stellar crunches.

    Three fights, 41 rounds and constant bloodshed.

    These two survived three murderous attempts from each other and remain the greatest rivalry ever.


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