Arsenal vs. Tottenham and the 25 Fiercest Rivalries in World Football

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2014

Arsenal vs. Tottenham and the 25 Fiercest Rivalries in World Football

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    All of the attention will be on north London on Saturday evening when Arsenal take on Tottenham in what is always one of the highlights of any Premier League season.

    The Gunners managed to get the better of Spurs three times last season with victories in both the Premier League and in the FA Cup, and so Mauricio Pochettino will know just what a tough task he has on his hands as he enters his first taste of north London conflict.

    But as well as Arsenal v Spurs, what are the most intense football rivalries from around the world?

    A mixture of geography, history, tradition and success can often create heated competition, and here are 25 of the world's biggest clashes.

Benfica vs. Sporting (Lisbon, Portugal)

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    The Portuguese capital and several Portuguese-speaking countries come to a standstill whenever Sporting Lisbon play Benfica, as a rivalry which lasts over 100 years is played out.

    Back in 1907, eight Benfica players decided to move to Sporting, and so a mutual dislike was born.

    It hasn't dulled with the passage of time. 

CSKA Moscow vs. Spartak Moscow (Moscow, Russia)

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    The "Main Moscow Derby" between CSKA and Spartak is often regarded as the biggest match in Russia, and is certainly the one with the most history given that it dates all the way back to 1922.

    The two sets of fans don't get on and that often leads to incredibly high tension in the stands, as well as on the pitch. 

Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid (Madrid, Spain)

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    Atletico Madrid's recent improvement has seen the Madrid derby become much more recognised on a global scale.

    Real Madrid have played Atletico no less than seven times in the last seven months, and although Real won the most important one when they clinched the Champions League title in Lisbon, Atletico are now unbeaten in the last three as they secured the Spanish Super Cup over two legs and won a La Liga clash at the Bernabeu earlier this month.

Al Ahly vs. Zamalek (Cairo, Egypt)

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    The two most successful clubs in Cairo are also surely the most successful clubs in Africa, and so there is always something on the line when Egypt's finest, Al Ahly and Zamalek, meet.

    The Egyptian Premier League throws up this fixture at least twice a year and it always met with clashes between fans and a heated, intense atmosphere that struggles to be matched anywhere else outside Europe.

Liverpool vs. Everton (Liverpool, England)

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    This weekend also sees the renewal of hostilities between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield, as the latest chapter in a story which began in 1892, when the Reds split away from the Blues, unfolds.

    Liverpool vs. Everton has often been regarded as a "friendly derby" by many, but there is always a huge will to win on both sides and among both sets of supporters on Merseyside, even if they can later put aside competition and have a drink in the pub together after the match.

Schalke vs. Borussia Dortmund (Ruhr, Germany)

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    The Ruhr derby is played between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund, who both inhabit the German region and like to get on the other's nerves.

    In 2008, Dortmund fans celebrated the fact that Schalke hadn't won the Bundesliga title for 50 years, with the dislike largely coming from the fact that it was Schalke who developed an upper hand in the derby contests when they were one of Germany's most successful teams in the 1930s and 40s.

AC Milan vs. Inter (Milan, Italy)

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    A classic fixture of any European season, the Milan derby is one of those world football matches that the planet stops to watch.

    The clashes between the red and black of AC Milan and the blue and black of Inter have taken on huge importance in both Italian football and the world game, and they are given an extra significance because the pair share the same San Siro stadium.

Olympiakos vs. Panathinaikos (Athens, Greece)

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    The brilliantly named "derby of the eternal enemies" between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos in Athens pretty much does exactly what it says in the title. These two don't like each other and they don't care who knows it.

    When the two most successful clubs in Greece meet, sparks fly, and what makes it stand out among all these other rivalries is that the clashes between the supporters aren't just limited to football matches, with both clubs having basketball, volleyball and other sports teams which are followed just as intensely.

Steaua Bucharest vs. Dinamo Bucharest (Bucharest, Romania)

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    One of many European derbies dubbed "the Eternal Derby" the meeting between Steaua Bucharest and Dinamo Bucharest brings together the two most successful clubs in Romania and also the two who dislike each other the most.

    Steaua were European champions in 1986, two years after Dinamo had reached the European Cup semi-finals, and it was around about this time that the rivalry tended to reach it's peak, while it also spilt over into rugby, handball and water polo matches. 

Roma vs. Lazio (Rome, Italy)

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    There is always an extra edge to meetings between Roma and Lazio in Italy's capital, with the Rome derby quite often marred by crowd violence and sometimes even a racist edge.

    Political factions often dominate the matches too, with the history of the fixture dating back to the 1920s when Lazio refused to become part of a merger which formed the Roma club, with the first derby between the pair happening in 1929.

Partizan Belgrade vs. Red Star Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)

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    One of the "Eternal derbies" that take place across eastern Europe, the meeting of Partizan Belgrade and Red Star Belgrade has a very good case to be regarded as the most heated.

    The pair's stadiums are located within just a few yards of each other in the Serbian capital, and with Partizan formed as the club of the army and Red Star considered to be the club of the youth, meetings between them are always fiery, sometimes literally as was the case in November last year.

Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce (Istanbul, Turkey)

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    Istanbul is home to many derbies due to its vast size and the sheer amount of clubs that call the Turkish city home, but the "Intercontinental derby" between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce is surely the most famous.

    The match has its name because Galatasaray are from the European part of Istanbul and Fenerbahce are from the Asian, and although the fixture has been played for over 100 years, the rivalry dates back to a specific "friendly" match in 1934 when riots broke out and both fans and players engaged in fighting.

Celtic vs. Rangers (Glasgow, Scotland)

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    So much has been written and spoken about the Old Firm Derby that it is difficult to do it justice here, but at its very core it is the religious and ideological differences between Glasgow clubs Celtic and Rangers which make them diametrically opposite.

    Financial meltdown at Rangers ensured that they tumbled down the Scottish leagues in 2012, but with the Ibrox club on the way back up it isn't likely to be long before we see one of world football's great rivalries played out again.

Boca Juniors vs. River Plate (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

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    Argentina's "Superclasico" has long held a great reputation among world football fans and is usually near the top of the list when supporters name the fixtures that they'd most like to attend around the globe.

    Boca Juniors and River Plate are the two most popular clubs in Argentina, both reside in Buenos Aires and they really don't get on very well, with Boca's fans calling River supporters "chickens" and River responding by dubbing Boca's fans "pigs."

    The rivalry also features tragedy, though, with 71 fans killed in a crush in a match at River's El Monumental in 1968.

Orlando Pirates vs. Kaizer Chiefs (Soweto, South Africa)

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    One of Africa's biggest football rivalries, the meetings between the Orlando Pirates and the Kaizer Chiefs date back to 1970.

    Former Orlando Pirates player Kaizer Motaung formed the Chiefs after he returned to South Africa from a spell playing in America, and given that both clubs ply their trade in football-mad Soweto, where the game is often used as a way to escape the troubles of everyday life, the fixtures are hugely anticipated. 

Manchester City vs. Manchester United (Manchester, England)

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    When this derby was first contested in 1881, Manchester City were known as West Gorton and Manchester United as Newton Heath.

    One hundred and thirty-three years later the Manchester derby has grown into one of the most eagerly awaited fixtures of any Premier League season, with the recent investment at City able to ensure that they can now challenge their more successful rivals, something encapsulated by some big derby victories in the past few years. 

Real Betis vs. Sevilla (Seville, Spain)

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    One of the more intense rivalries in Spain, the Seville derby will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.

    Sevilla and Real Betis haven't been among the more successful La Liga clubs over the years, and so that means that an added edge is prevalent whenever they face each other as they bid for the right to get one over on hated rivals.

Legia Warsaw vs. Wisla Krakow (Poland's Derby)

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    The greatest rivalry in Polish football stems from an old argument about the country's capital city.

    Krakow, to the south, was Poland's capital for over 500 years before Warsaw, in the north, took over. The roots of this historical rivalry between the cities often spills over whenever the country's two most recently successful football clubs meet, and chaos sometimes ensues.

Flamengo vs. Fluminense (Fla-Flu)

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    An astonishing 194,603 people watched these two great rivals from Rio De Janeiro play each other in a derby match in 1963, just one of the examples why this is one of Brazil's great sporting rivalries.

    There is over 100 years of history in the Flamengo vs. Fluminense fixture, which started when dissatisfied players from the latter left the club and helped form a football team at the Flamengo sporting club in 1911.  

Ajax vs. Feyenoord (De Klassieker)

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    Supporter clashes have frequently marred this meeting between two of Dutch football's most recognisable names.

    An Ajax supporter was tragically beaten to death by Feyenoord fans in 1997, while Ajax fans demolished a train and were involved in riots outside Feyenoord's De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam in 2005. Four years later, the mayors of both Amsterdam and Rotterdam agreed to ban away supporters from the matches for five seasons.

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (El Clasico)

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    Some football rivalries simply leap off the page, and despite there being no geographical proximity between Barcelona and Real Madrid, the pair share so many more reasons to dislike each other, both political and sporting.

    Easily the two biggest club's in Spain's La Liga, the fact that the pair are frequently meeting for the biggest prizes on offer in the European game only makes the rivalry more intense, and when they meet, the world watches.

Manchester United vs. Liverpool (North-West England)

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    Although there is no specific name for this rivalry, the fact that Manchester United and Liverpool are the two most successful clubs in England and happen to be situated fairly close to one another has made it one of the stand out fixtures in world football for generations.

    Away from football, the cities of Manchester and Liverpool have long had a rivalry based on the fact that both fought to be considered the north-west of England's premier trading and industrial heartland, and that has only spilled over into football given the fierce passions that exist on both sides.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Marseille (Le Classique)

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    France's "Le Classique" is, as the name suggests, a classic football rivalry between clubs from the two largest cities in France, and the only two French clubs to have ever won European trophies.

    Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille supporters don't get on either given the differences in the cultures of their cities, and more and more fan clashes have become prevalent in recent years, with a prominent supporter killed after fighting broke out between PSG fans in 2010. 

Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Sociedad (Basque Derby)

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    Those from the Basque region of Spain are fiercely proud of their identity and of their two football clubs, with Athletic Bilbao coming from the province of Bizkaia and Real Sociedad from the neighbouring Gipuzkoa.

    Both clubs used to implement a policy of playing Basque-only players, and although Sociedad have come to relax that in recent years, Bilbao are still persevering with it to excellent results. 

Arsenal vs. Tottenham (London, England)

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    Initially dating back to 1887, the Arsenal vs. Tottenham rivalry has now become a staple of each and every Premier League season.

    Although rarely, if ever, involved in outright violence towards each other, the supporters of the two clubs take great pride in being different than the other, with north London's added multi-cultural element bringing another special part of what is one of the longest and fiercest English rivalries.


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