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Where Does the Milan Derby Rank in Terms of Global Importance?

Matteo Bonetti@@TheCalcioGuyContributor IDecember 18, 2013

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 15:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic (R) of AC Milan is challenged by Walter Samuel of FC Internazionale Milano during the Serie A match between AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 15, 2012 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

The Milan Derby, otherwise known as "Il Derby della Madonnina," has been one of the most noted rivalries in world football for decades.

The matchup between Milan and Inter always carries the air of a Champions League final but without much of the violence that might normally be present in other derbies. As a matter of fact, the fans in this match remain civil compared to some of the others that will be presented in this article.

Judging on global importance, the argument could be made that this derby holds the title as being one of the top three most prolific worldwide.

There's no doubting that "El Clasico" between Real Madrid and Barcelona is the matchup that draws the most attention at the moment, but "Il Derby della Madonnina" is not far behind because of the history between these two Italian sides and the passion which divides the city of Milan into two different colors, as well as the millions of fans who follow the sides around the globe.

Messi and Ronaldo have helped make El Clasico the most watched derby worldwide
Messi and Ronaldo have helped make El Clasico the most watched derby worldwideDavid Ramos/Getty Images

"El Clasico" will be hard to trump anytime soon, as the two Spanish giants have accumulated an incredible host of players, including the two biggest superstars in the world—Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are just as marketable as they are talented.

Last year, alone, one of the "Clasicos" attracted a staggering figure of 400 million viewers worldwide, making it the most watched derby in football.

There are plenty of other heated derbies around the world—River Plate vs. Boca Juniors in Argentina, Fenerbahce vs. Galatasaray in Turkey, or even the Old Firm rivalry between Celtic and Rangers in Scotland.

Fans gather during a Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce match in Istanbul, Turkey
Fans gather during a Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce match in Istanbul, TurkeyEuroFootball/Getty Images

It would also be unfair to not mention the Rome derby, but the fact that it is often marred by violence makes it more of a global embarrassment to Italy rather than a matchup they can be proud of spotlighting.

However, the skill level in some of these matches doesn't compare to the laundry list of talent that has continually graced the pitch every time there's a Derby "della Madonnina."

These rivalries may be heated locally but do not carry the same global weight as a "Clasico" or a Milan derby.

A telltale sign of a truly good rivalry is the parity that comes along with it, and the head-to-head record between Inter and Milan is certainly not lopsided.

Mario Balotelli is one of the many stars who have played for both Milan sides
Mario Balotelli is one of the many stars who have played for both Milan sidesClaudio Villa/Getty Images

The last 46 times the two sides have played, Milan has won 18, drawn 11 and lost 17. Even more incredible, the goals scored are nearly identical—66 goals for Milan compared to 63 scored by Inter.

Andrea Pirlo with Inter
Andrea Pirlo with InterStuart Franklin/Getty Images

If that wasn't enough, Milan and Inter have both won 18 Scudetti and were runners-up 14 times each—an incredible parity that is hard to match elsewhere.

On top of this, the two have exchanged plenty of players throughout the years, further adding to the fire that burns so deep. Andrea Pirlo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli, Christian Vieri and Clarence Seedorf are just a handful of the players who have swapped between the sides in the past decade.

However, the Rossoneri have the distinctive edge in the Champions League, a place where they have truly thrived over the decades. Milan's seven cup wins in this competition is second to only Real Madrid, and it's the main factor that has made them such a recognizable side on a worldwide platform, with fans spanning to every country on the globe.

Although the current Milan and Inter teams do not boast the star-studded lineups they used to, this game still carries a heavy historical connotation, and the rivalry burns just as bright.

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