The Five Best Football Rivalries

Alejandro MullerCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2008

Rivalries can be measured in so many different ways.

The most intense, the oldest, the most newsworthy. Then there are those that gather people from all over the world and take the beautiful game to a different level, a stratosphere not known to most players.  

These are games that take the best players in the world, and two fanbases that hate each other since the beginning of football. There might be more intense rivalries or fans who dislike one another more, but none display the game at its best like these five. 

5. Boca Juniors v. River Plate

The Superclásico is the most famous rivalry in the Americas and one of the most talked about worldwide.  In their history, these two Argentine teams have played 320 matches, with 116 going to Boca, 104 to River, and 100 draws.  

The entire country focuses on the match a week before it happens. The two most successful teams, both from the capital, battle not only for football pride, but for public and city dominance.

 It is a rivalry that transcends the game, a battle between the wealthy and the lower class. One blue and yellow team founded by construction workers in the Boca neighborhood, versus a squad nicknamed "The millionaires".  

It is a rivalry that has had names like Maradona, Riquelme, Aimar, Saviola, Francescoli, and Batistuta, among others. Definitely one worth seeing. 

4. Celtic v. Rangers

The Old Firm derby is perhaps the rivalry with the lowest quality of football on this list currently, but it is a battle that never dies and maybe the one that most transcends football in the world.  

The game has been played since 1888, and it pins Rangers' Protestant fans against Celtic's Catholic supporters. The hatred between these two Scottish sides is so intense that in 120 years of history, only five players have moved from one to the other.  

In this more than century old rivalry, 381 matches have been disputed, with 152 wins for Rangers, 137 for Celtic, and 92 draws.  

The two Glasgow representatives are also by far the two most successful teams in Scottish football, with 51 league titles for Rangers (most in the world), and 42 for Celtic (second most in the world).  Watch at your own risk.

3. Manchester United v. Liverpool

Talent, trophies, and outright hatred are all ever so present in England's most famous rivalry, as both teams claim to be the best in their country.  

Currently, Liverpool owns 58 total titles, while Manchester United holds 53. However, United has been more successful in the past 20 years, and in 2008 were crowned European champion and Premier League champion.  

The hatred between fans has always been there.  But the most captivating thing about this English battle is the talent both these teams have every year. They are always among the wealthiest clubs in the world and have great superstars year in and year out.  

The two greatest teams in Great Britain are never happy with just one title.  They have the obligation of going after the F.A. Cup, the UEFA Champions League, and the domestic tournament every single year. Currently, Liverpool has 5 European Cup trophies and Manchester United has 3, including two in the last 9 years.

It is a rivalry made famous worldwide by the overwhelming talent of the players who perform in it since 1895.

2. Internazionale Milano v. A.C Milan

The Derby della Madonnina is one that combines factors from all the rivalries mentioned before. It is local, it has some of the most talented players in the world, and it goes beyond football and into social issues.  

The battle began in 1908, when a dispute over signing foreign players led to a breakup of the Milan Cricket and Football Club, and Inter was born.  

A.C. Milan was left from the old Cricket and Football Club and it became the team of the working class and immigrants. Inter, meanwhile, became Milan's team. The two have played 269 times, with Milan winning 106 times, and Inter coming away victorious on 91 occasions. 72 matches have ended in draws.  

The two representatives of Milan are among the most successful in the world when it comes to titles, with A.C Milan winning seven European titles and Inter winning two. Domestically, Inter has won 16 leagues and five cups, while Milan has 17 league trophies and also five cups.  

Currently, these two sides have some of the most talented players on the planet, including Kaka, Ronaldinho, Clarence Seedorf, Paolo Maldini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Adriano, Luis Figo, and Patrick Vieira, among others.

1. Real Madrid v. Barcelona

It has been said that this is the only football game besides the World Cup final that can paralize the entire world.  It is the closest a club rivalry can come to an international battle. One team representing the capital. Another, playing the role of the outcast, the rebel who wants his independence.  

These two are by far the most successful teams in the Spanish League, one of the most popular in the world.  Real Madrid is the most successful team in the world and was named team of the 20th century by FIFA. Their nine European Cups are a record, and their 31 league titles are third all-time behind Rangers and Celtic.  

They also own 17 cup titles, and eight supercopas. Barcelona, on the other hand, has 18 league titles, 24 cup titles and two European titles, far more than any other Spanish team not named Real Madrid.  

But why is it the best? To begin, the players who have come through Madrid and Barcelona are among the greatest of all time. Maradona, Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Ronaldinho, Messi, Robinho, Raul, Beckham, Makelele, Di Stefano, Puyol, Romario, Stoichkov, Cruyff, and Cannavaro are only some of the great names who have played for one team or the other, and sometimes for both.

It is also the most popular worldwide. The entire planet knows when it is played and the ones who have the chance, are always at the stadium or in front of the TV watching. And besides that, it has two of the largest fanbases who also happen to hate each other as much as any two groups of supporters in the world.  

That is why the game is simply known as El Clásico.


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