50 Greatest Rivalries in World Football

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2011

50 Greatest Rivalries in World Football

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    Ah, sports rivalries. They truly are what makes the game fun. If you don't have some sort of hatred for the opposing team, then what's the point in watching?

    No sport has rivalries that are more passionate, have more history or are as entertaining as those in football. Another writer here at Bleacher Report recently ranked his top 50 rivalries is World Football, and I must say, I was left somewhat unsatisfied. So I've compiled my own list of the 50 best football rivalries.

    The best matches, the best legacies, the best fans, the best atmosphere and of course, the best football.

    I've left off what I feel are rivalries that are more known for violence or commotion off the pitch and do not display much entertainment or success on it. 

    I won't pretend to know everything about each of these rivalries, and as some are hugely important in one part of the world but much less so elsewhere, I've decided to list 35 in no particular order, and then I've ranked what I think are the top 15 football rivalries the world over. Chime in with what you think!

    Photo courtesy of listverse.com

Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04

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    DORTMUND, GERMANY - JANUARY 30:  Niels Oude Kamphuis of Dortmund in action against Jan Koller of Schalke during the Bundsliga match between Borussia Dortmund and  FC Schalke 04 at The Westfallen Stadium on 30 January, 2004 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by
    Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    The Revierderby between Borussia and Schalke, both located in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany is the Bundesliga's first derby dating back to 1925.  

    Both clubs have had periods of dominance, and neither set of fans is above celebrating the other's failures. In May 2007, Schalke lost to the derby and by doing so the league lead, for which Borussia made commemorative shirts, and in 2008, Borussia fans celebrated 50 years since Schalke had won the league title. But Schalke was able to shove the Champions League in their neighbor's face this season. 

Greece vs. Turkey

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    ISTANBUL, TURKEY - OCTOBER 17: Angelos Basinas of Greece (r) battles with Turkey forward Arda Turan during the Euro 2008 Qualifying match between Turkey and Greece at Ali Sami Yen Stadium on October 17, 2007 in Istanbul,Turkey.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Gett
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Greece and Turkey have had fractious relations off the pitch, and they've both recently become a force to be reckoned with on it. Turkey surprised everyone by making it to the semifinals in the 2002 World Cup, and then Greece shocked everyone by winning 2004.

    Their countries were in the same group for Euro 2008 qualifying, and Turkey had the last laugh as they made it to the semifinals in that tournament as well. 

Porto vs. Sporting

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    21 May 2000:  Kwame Ayew of Sporting Lisbon beats Chainho of FC Porto during the Portuguese Cup Final at the Estadio Nacional,  Portugal. The game was drawn 1-1. \ Photograph: Nuno Correia \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    North vs. South Portugal. Two of the founding Premeira Liga clubs, neither of which have ever been relegated. 

    Porto has more of the spoils, domestically and in Europe, but the overall record between the two is dead even at 76 wins and 58 draws apiece.  

Flamengo vs Vasco de Gama

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    27 Oct 2000:  Flamengo fans let off flares in the stands during the Flamengo  v Vasco de Gama Joao Havelange Cup match played at the Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro. Mandatory Credit: Allsport/ALLSPORT
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    The "Clasico dos Milhoes" (Derby of Millions) is contested between the two biggest fanbases in Rio de Janireo, Brazil, attracts around 49 million people and is considered the biggest game in Brazilian football.

    The rivalry actually started in rowing as both clubs compete in multiple sports, but football is obviously at the forefront. They have played in many domestic cup matches but have both struggled financially of late. Flamengo holds the overall record over Vasca at 130 wins to 119 and 87 draws.  

Marseille vs. Lyon

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    The Choc des Olympiques (Clash of the Olympics) between Olympique Lyon and Olympique Marseille is a French derby with no bad blood between the sides or their fans.

    The derby came from the two clubs' competitive nature, and the results most often have a big impact of the league title. Both clubs, along with Saint-Etienne, have won the league four consecutive times.

    Photo courtesy of freshsoccer.com 

Partizan vs Red Star

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    The Eternal derby in Serbia takes place between Partizan and Red Star, the nation's biggest clubs with the biggest fanbases. It's the fans that make this derby more so than the football. Both clubs have very organized fanbases, both during matches and off the pitch.   

    Recently the derbies have been marred hooliganism with organized fights between the fan groups not uncommon.

    Photo courtesy of flickr.com 

Besiktas vs. Fenerbahce

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    Besiktas vs. Fenerbahce has been contested for almost 100 years and is one of many Istanbul derbies. It attracts huge audiences and plenty of excitement with the teams often battling it out at the top. Both clubs have huge followings that are very vocal leading to riots, fights and more.

    Besiktas was founded on the European side of Turkey while Fenerbahce sits on the Asian side to give the rivalry an extra kick.

    Photo courtesy of sportingopinions.com 

Nacional vs. Penarol

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    The Clasico of Uruguay takes place between Nacional and Penarol, both located in Montevideo and has been played since the late 1800s. Neither team has had much international success, but they have helped to sculpt South American soccer.

    On April 14, 1990, the teams battled 0-0 and had 22 total players sent off (11 each). The game was called at 85 minutes because neither team had enough players left (minimum seven). The next year, a fight broke out between the sides and nine players and one coach had to spend a month in jail for their involvement.

    As of October 2010, Nacional and Penarol had played each other 502 total times.

    Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk 

Spartak Moscow vs. Dinamo Kiev

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    Spartak Moscow vs. Dinamo Kiev are two former Soviet giants who don't get to go at it as much anymore, but Dinamo started the rivalry in the perfect fashion. In 1976, they beat Spartak and sent them packing to the second division.

    The clubs have met four times in the Champions League.  

Chelsea vs. Liverpool

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    LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 01:  Pepe Reina of Liverpool saves the penalty from Geremi (#14) of Chelsea during the UEFA Champions League semi final second leg match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 1, 2007 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    The Chelsea-Liverpool rivalry is a very recent one, but that doesn't make it any less intense or important to the fans of both clubs. 

    It is much more heated in Champions League and cup competitions and all began with Milan Luis Garcia's "goal" in the 2005 semifinals that sent Liverpool to Istanbul. Liverpool then sent the Blues home in the semifinals of the 2005-06 FA Cup. The next season, Liverpool again emerged victorious in the Champions League semifinals in 2007 on penalties. Liverpool won the first two of those finals. 

    Chelsea has extracted some revenge by beating the Reds in the 2008 semifinals of the Champions League, helped by a cruel John Arne Riise own goal in the dying moments at Anfield, and in the the quarterfinals the next year, with the 4-4 second-leg match at Stamford Bridge an instant classic. Chelsea did not win the trophy either time. 

    Fernando Torres' £50 million transfer to Chelsea in January and calling the Blues a bigger club has only added to this rivalry. When the Blues come to Anfield next season, we should be in for a treat. 

Chile vs. Peru

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    Lingering discontent about the War of the Pacific led to a football rivalry between Chile and Peru, two once friendly nations. The War of the Pacific ended in 1883. Games are often entertaining, rough and you can bet at least one player will be sent off. 

    They both also claim to have invented the bicycle kick. Where will it end? 

LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes

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    SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 21:  San Jose Earthquakes fans cheer against the Los Angeles Galaxy on August 21, 2010 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California.  The Earthquakes won 1-0. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    This rivalry is not because of the soccer; it's because of the fans. Soccer may not have taken hold over the U.S. yet, but you wouldn't know from watching LA Galaxy take on the San Jose Earthquakes. 

    It's Southern California vs. Northern California in the California Clasico, which is a big rivalry in every sport, and the fans go wild for it. 

Bimingham City vs. Aston Villa

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01:  Birmingham fans are chased off the pitch by police after the Carling Cup Quarter Final between Birmingham City and Aston Villa at St Andrews on December 1, 2010 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Image
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    The Second City derby has been contested since 1879 and is a fierce rivalry for the fans of the two Birmingham clubs. Birmingham City won its first domestic honor in the 1963 League Cup by beating Aston Villa in the final. Villa did the double over their neighbors in 1980-81 and won the league for the first time since 1910. 

    This past December, the two met in a League Cup match that was marred by fan violence as Birmingham fans invaded their pitch to confront the visiting fans who through chairs and anything else they could find onto the pitch. 

America vs. Guadalajara

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    El Super Clasico is a hotly contested rivalry between Chivas of Guadalajara and America of Mexico City. It is sometimes seen as Mexico City vs. the rest of the country, and they are the two most successful clubs in Mexico.

    It began in 1943 but did not really become competitive for another 20 years. A main sticking point in the rivalry is that Chivas is famous for only playing Mexican-born players while America relies heavily on foreign talent.

    Photo courtesy of holamun2.com 

USA vs. England

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    RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 12:  Robert Green of England misjudges the ball and lets in a goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and USA at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 12, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa
    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    This is perhaps more of a rivalry over on this side of the pond simply because we colonials like to revel in our Revolution every chance we get. But Team USA's shock 1-0 win over the mother country in the 1950 World Cup surely ruffled some feathers and made the US a formidable foe in England. 

    US fans were delighted to be put in England's group in the 2010 World Cup and to put a huge damper on the Three Lions hopes with Clint Dempsey's goal/poor Robert Green's ineptitude.  

Corinthians vs. Sao Paulo

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    16 Mar 2002:  Gil of Corinthians in action during the Rio-Sao Paulo Tournament match between Corinthians and Ponte Preta, played at the Morumbi Stadium, Sao Paulo.  DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK/Getty Images
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    The Classico Majestico pits the two Sao Paulo teams against each other and attracts the largest audience in Brazil, with scuffles being a natural side effect of that. 

    Corinthians and Sao Paulo have been playing each other since 1936 and have also played many friendly matches. 

West Ham vs. Millwall

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25:  Fans invade the pitch during the Carling Cup second round match between West Ham United and Millwall at Upton Park on August 25, 2009 in London, England.  . Violence broke out between West Ham and Millwall supporters, prior t
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Even though West Ham and Millwall played their first match in 1897, they have still only faced each other a total of 97 times to this day, but it is still one of the biggest derbies in English football. Playing in different divisions keeps them from meeting up more often, but the rivalry is still so famous and intense that it has inspired several movies, the most famous of which is Green Street or Green Street Hooligans or Hooligans depending on where you live.

    Their last meeting was a League Cup match in 2009 when West Ham supporters invaded the pitch numerous times, and hundreds of fans were involved in riots outside the stadium.

    West Ham and Millwall will meet again in 2011-2012 after West Ham's relegation to the Championship.  

Fenerbahce vs. Galatasaray

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    The Kitalar Arasi Derbi (Intercontinental Derby) between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray is another Istanbul derby though this one has seen a lot more action. The first game was in 1909, but the rivalry itself did not really heat up until 1934 in a friendly game.

    Fans were rioting, players were fouling as hard as they could and the referee eventually just abandoned the match. Graeme Souness added some real fire to the rivalry in the cup final in 1996 when Galatasaray surprisingly beat Fenerbahce over two legs, and Souness (as coach of Galatasaray) planted his club's flag in the middle of Fenerbahce's pitch.

    Photo courtesy of thesun.co.uk 

Ajax vs. Feyenoord

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    De Klassieker has seen some ugliness mixed in with the Dutch club's total football. Ajax of Amsterdam is the more successful club known for its beautiful, technical style of play while Feyenoord of Rotterdam has more rugged origins. 

    The Battle of Beverwijk in 1997 is the ugliest moment in the rivalry's history when riots and clashes resulted in an Ajax fan's death. Away fans have been banned from the fixture many times since and are currently serving a five-year ban started in 2009 in an effort to curb hooliganism.

    Photo courtesy of 1000goals.com  

Benfica vs. Sporting

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    6 May 2000:  Abdelilah Saber of Sporting Lisbon beats Ricardo Rojas of Benfica to the ball  during the Portuguese 1 Liga match at Jose de Alvalade, Lisbon, Portugal. Benfica won 1-0. \ Photo by Nuno Correia  \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    The Derby de Lisboa pits the two Lisbon clubs against each other and is always one of the biggest matches in Portugal.

    It began in 1907 when several Benfica players left for Sporting for better working conditions. Though Benfica is seen as the working class club and Sporting as the wealthy class, Benfica holds the edge in silverware 68 to 45. 

Sunderland vs. Newcastle

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    SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16:  Newcastle player Leon Best is challenged by Anton Ferdinand during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Newcastle United at Stadium of Light on January 16, 2011 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Stu
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    The Tyne-Wear derby between Sunderland and Newcastle stems from the English Civil War. Newcastle supported the Hanovers, Sunderland the Stuarts and a football rivalry was just the natural outcome. 

    The first competitive match took place in 1888, and a match in 1901 had to be abandoned because 70,000 fans had shown up at a stadium that held 30,000. That's not gonna please anybody. Both clubs have banned the opposing team's fans for whatever reason, and this year proved that even the players aren't safe.

    Newcastle keeper Steve Harper was assaulted at Sunderland when a fan ran onto the pitch. 

Bayern Munich vs. Nuremberg

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    Bayern Munich vs. Nuremberg is the biggest Bavarian derby biggest and is contested by the two most successful clubs in Germany. The two sides can't even agree on what to call it because Nuremberg fans do not actually consider themselves Bavarian.

    Photo courtesy of freshsoccer.com 

Leeds vs. Manchester United

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03:  Jermaine Beckford (R) of Leeds United celebrates scoring the opening goal during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 3rd Round match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford on January 3, 2010 in Manchester, E
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    The Roses derby between Leeds United and Manchester United stems from the War of the Roses, and despite not meeting much since Leeds was relegated in the '80s and again in 2004, fans still consider it a huge rivalry for their respective clubs.

    On-field scuffles between the players have been commonplace since the '60s when Matt Busby was in charge of Manchester United and Don Revie was his Leeds counterpart. In an FA Cup semifinal match in 1965, Jack Charlton (Sir Bobby's brother) of Leeds and Denis Law of United resulted to all-out fist fighting in a very physical match that set the bar for the rivalry.

    Leeds is an example of how far and how fast a great club can fall from grace, but they did themselves some good by beating United 1-0 at Old Trafford last January in an FA Cup Third Round match.  

Lyon vs. Saint-Eteinne

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    The Derby du Rhone pits the two teams in the Rhone Alps against one another. Lyon are the well-offs while Saint-Etienne are more blue collar. Lyon are the dominant team today while Saint-Etienne are the champions of the past and still the more successful overall.

    Unlike some football rivalries, playing for both these sides is very rare, and only 13 players have gone directly from club to the other in 60 years of derby football. 

USA vs. Mexico

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    SEATTLE - MAY 28:  A fan holds a sign during the match between Mexico and Ecuador at Qwest Field on May 28, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Mexico and Ecuador played to a 1-1 tie. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Both the US and Mexico are vying for supremacy in CONCACAF, and this neighborhood get together is usually anything but friendly.

    There's the politics of Mexican citizens in America to stir up controversy and of course the Alamo, but it's only become really nasty recently. In the 2002 World Cup, the US beat Mexico 2-0 in the second round. A year later, at an Olympic qualifying match in Guadalajara, Mexican fans chanted "Osama, Osama" in reference to Osama bin Laden and the Sept. 11 attacks. 

    Landon Donovan paid them back though by urinating on the pitch at the Estadio Jalisco in 2004. And he totally meant it.  

Arsenal vs. Manchester United

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    20 Oct 1990:  Manchester United and Arsenal players fight on the pitch during the Barclays League Division One match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Arsenal won the match 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Russell  Cheyne/Allsport
    Russell Cheyne/Getty Images

    Though both Manchester United and Arsenal have long, illustrious histories in English football, this rivalry really wasn't much of one until one match in 1990. It has since intensified because of the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

    In October of 1990, Arsenal defeated United 1-0, but the real talking point came when Arsenal's Nigel Winterburn lunged into Denis Irwin, and it led to an all-out brawl on the pitch.

    The teams have had plenty of hard-fought battles since then, and it seems there's nothing Ferguson and Wenger will ever agree upon.  

Spain vs. Portugal

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    CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 29:  Iker Casillas of Spain defends an attack by Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Spain and Portugal at Green Point Stadium on June 29, 2010 in Cape Tow
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Being neighbors and having fought battles for centuries, Spain and Portugal were destined to have an intense football rivalry. Bragging rights are the most important thing when it comes to rivalries on any level, and being the smaller nation, Portugal are always looking to one-up their Iberian neighbors.

    Portugal eliminated Spain in Euro 2004, but Spain beat Portugal on its way to its first World Cup last year. 

Chelsea vs. Arsenal

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    CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 25:  Referee Howard Webb attempts to break up a brawl between the Arsenal and Chelsea players during the Carling Cup Final match between Chelsea and Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium on February 25, 2007 in Cardiff, Wale
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Chelsea and Arsenal are not each other's biggest rivals, but as London's two most dominant teams, they have had some fierce meetings. It has become a much bigger match since Chelsea became one of the elite clubs challenging for the Premier League title, among others, in the early 2000s.

    Ashley Cole turned the heat up when he was caught meeting with Chelsea officials several months before actually making the move from the Emirates to Stamford Bridge. 

    The 2007 Carling Cup final between the two sides saw John Terry kicked in the head, Emmanuel Adebayor controversially sent off, Frank Lampard and Cesc Fabregas going at it and Chelsea fans throwing celery (?) at Arsenal players. 

Denmark vs. Sweden

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    Denmark vs. Sweden goes back almost 100 years, but recent matches in particular have gotten blood boiling across Scandinavia. The two countries were paired together in Euro 2008 qualifying. Sweden jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Copenhagen, but the Danes managed to pull it back to 3-3 before Sweden was awarded a controversial penalty, a fan invaded the pitch to confront the referee who subsequently abandoned the match.

    Denmark didn't qualify for the Euros, but they did prevent Sweden from qualifying for the 2010 World. 

Lazio vs Roma

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    ROME, ITALY - MARCH 21:  AS Roma captain Francesco Totti after the Serie A match between Roma and Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on March 21, 2004 in Rome, Italy. The Game was abandoned after half-time after crowd trouble, with the score at 0-0. (Photo by N
    New Press/Getty Images

    The two Roman clubs share a dislike for the Milan clubs, but AS Lazio and AS Roma save their real feelings of hatred for each other and the Derby della Capitale. It is even considered the fiercest rivalry in the country, ahead of the Milan derby, by some.  

    The opposing political differences between the fans intensified the rivalry much like the social and economic differences have. 

    The first fatality due to violence in the Italian football happened in a 1979 match when a Lazio fan was hit by a flare. In 2004, the match was suspended when Roma Ultras said a child had been killed by the police before the game, which wasn't true and led to a riot. 

England vs. Germany

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    BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 27:  Thomas Mueller of Germany celebrates scoring his teams fourth past goal David James of England during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Germany and England at Free State Stadium on J
    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    England vs. Germany pits two of football's biggest nations against one another, but the rivalry has been forged mainly by politics.  

    When the two sides met in 1938 in Berlin, the last before WWII, the English players were ordered to perform the Nazi salute before kickoff as a sign of respect to their hosts.

    The biggest meeting was the 1966 World Cup Final between England and West Germany which included the only hat trick in a World Cup Final by Geoff Hurst, including the first and most famous "ghost goal," as England won its one and only World Cup. And England fans' chant of "Two World Wars and One World Cup" was born.

    Since then, Germany has been the more dominant side, having won all but two meetings in the last 44 years and have been much more successful overall. This rivalry is much more important to English fans, but it's still two big European sides going at it, which is always going to produce some drama.   

Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid

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    MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 13:  Luis Perea (L) of Atletico Madrid fouls Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid during the quarter-final Copa del Rey first leg match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 13, 2011 in Madrid, Sp
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Atletico Madrid has always had to live in the shadow of their huge neighbors Real, and they haven't had much respite in el Derbi madrileno. Real is seen as the club of the establishment or the government as they have aways been the more successful and profitable, while Atleti is more the club of the common people.

    In league matches, Real has 80 wins to Atleti's 35 since 1928. Atleti has not won a league match over their rivals since 1999-2000. 

Manchester United vs Manchester City

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Manchester City fans display a banner during the Manchester City FA Cup Winners Parade at Manchester Town Hall on May 23, 2011 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
    Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

    The Manchester derby has recently become a much more important match across England because of Manchester City's new-found wealth.

    The first match was played in 1881, but it did not become necessarily bad tempered until the 1970s. In December of 1970, a very strong George Best tackle on City's Glyn Pardoe almost cost the latter his leg. In 1973, a player from each side was sent off but refused to leave the pitch. The referee had to take the teams back to their locker rooms before the players would accept their dismissals.

    United went unbeaten in the derby in the 1990s and hold an overall advantage of 66 wins to City's 43.

    City fans baited their rivals when they signed Carlos Tevez from United in the summer of 2009 and put up signs in the city welcoming him to Manchester. 

    The next meeting between the two will be in the Community Shield in August as United won the league, and City ended a 35-year trophy drought with their FA Cup victory, which included a 1-0 semifinal victory over their neighbors which was watched by over 10 million people in England.   

France vs Italy

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    BERLIN - JULY 09: David Trezeguet (L) of France and Fabio Cannavaro (R) of Italy argue, whilst Marco Materazzi of Italy lies injured, after being headbutted  in the chest by Zinedine Zidane of France during the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 Final match betw
    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Two of Europe's most dominant nations, France and Italy, have played out an intense rivalry for over 100 years, and they have had plenty of big games on the biggest stages. 

    Italy was dominant for many years, including two World Cup victories over France. From 1982 to 2008 however, France was undefeated against Italy (not including penalties obviously), which included two World Cup meetings and the victorious Euro 2000 Final. 

    Italy and France met in the 2006 World Cup Final and Italy outlasted France on penalties to win their fourth (to France's one) World Cup after France's captain Zinedine Zidane had been sent off for head-butting Marco Materazzi. 

Chelsea vs Manchester United

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    MOSCOW - MAY 21:  Edwin Van der Sar of Manchester United celebrates after John Terry of Chelsea misses a penalty during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Manchester United and Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium on May 21, 2008 in Moscow, Russia.
    Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

    Chelsea's recent success has made the Chelsea-Manchester United rivalry one of the biggest matches in England each season and a very important one across Europe.

    One of the two clubs has won the Premier League each year since 2004-2005, and they have overall been the most dominant sides in the league in that time. They met in the Champions League final in 2008, which United won on penalties after Chelsea captain John Terry missed the opportunity the win his side the trophy.

    Chelsea did the double over United last season when just one point for the Red Devils would've given United their 19th league title a year earlier.

    It is certainly not the oldest or most historic rivalry in English football, but it is arguably the most important today.  

15. Corinthians vs. Palmeiras

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    The Derby Paulista is Brazil's biggest derby match between the most successful clubs. The derby started in 1907 and is also the most violent derby in world football and has seen the highest number of deaths.

    Photo courtesy of freshsoccer.com  

14. Arsenal vs. Tottenham

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 20:  Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal is tackled by Tom Huddlestone of Spurs during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on April 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffi
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    The North London derby originated in 1919, when Arsenal were promoted to the newly expanded First Division even though Tottenham had finished above them. The clubs are only four miles apart, so a rivalry quickly started between the fans.

    Arsenal has always been the more dominant and famous club, but Tottenham is starting to edge closer to their rivals after making it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League this past season, their first in the competition. The clubs have met in several cup semi and quarterfinal matches over the years, and Arsenal has beaten Tottenham on the last day of the twice to seal the title.

    St. Totteringham's day is a holiday for all Gunners supporters. It is the day when Tottenham can no longer mathematically finish above Arsenal. Though Arsenal had a spirit-crushing end to this season, they can still enjoy the fact that theirs would've been seen as one of their rival's best seasons ever.   

13. Inter Milan vs. Juventus

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    TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 13:  Thiago Motta of FC Internazionale Milano clashes with Luca Toni (L) and Felipe Melo (R) of Juventus FC during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and FC Internazionale Milano at Olimpico Stadium on February 13, 2011 in Turin
    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    The Derby d'Italia sees Italy's two most successful teams, with the most wins and most goals scored going at it. Both clubs have a storied history and a passionate set of fans that ensures eventful encounters. 

    Until the 2006-07 season, neither team had ever been relegated from the Serie A so they had played every game in the top division since 1909. 

12. Olympiacos vs. Panathinaikos

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    The Derby of the eternal enemies or Mother of all battles pits Greece's most successful clubs and the two capital clubs against each other. Originally, class differences were what set the fans of Olympiacos and Panathinaikos apart, but the fans' hatred has become much stronger in recent years.

    Violence is not uncommon around Athens in the days leading up to a derby match including fights organized by supporters' groups. 

    Olympiacos is the more successful overall in Greece, but Panathinaikos has the better European pedigree. 

    Photo courtesy of sportingreece.com 

11. Liverpool vs. Everton

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    Liverpool and Everton are so close that Liverpool was formed when Everton left Anfield because of a rent dispute. The Merseyside derby is often called the Friendly derby because many families in Liverpool have fans of both sides, and it is one of the few derbies that does not force fan segregation. 

    It's friendly everywhere but on the pitch. It has seen more red cards than any other English match. It become decidedly less friendly in 1985. Evertonians were incensed when they were not able to take part in the European Cup in 1985-86 (after being named European team of the season) because of the ban of English clubs after the Heysel disaster, which involved Liverpool. 

    Only Stanley Park separates Anfield and Goodison, but it is still one of the least violent derbies in football. The city of Liverpool is the most successful in England winning a combined 27 league titles (18 for Liverpool) and never having a top flight season without at least one. The two clubs were regularly at the top of the league from the 1960s through the 1980s.

    In the 2004-05 season, Everton had their best season in years by finishing fourth and qualifying for the Champions League, but Liverpool (who finished fifth) were better and won the 2005 Champions League. 

    But no matter how friendly this derby may seem, Liverpool and Everton will never share a stadium.

    Photo courtesy of footyforthesoul.com 

10. Uruguay vs. Brazil

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    One game makes this rivalry what it is. And it was one huge game. 

    Brazil were such overwhelming favorites to win the 1950 World Cup on their home soil that the winners medals had already been ordered, and the celebrations had been planned. Uruguay's victory destroyed a nation, led the Brazil players to retire quietly, fans to commit suicide and a change of uniform for Brazil. 

    This may not be as much of a rivalry per see, but it's unlikely Brazil fans hate any other nation more than Uruguay. 

9. England vs Argentina

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    22 Jun 1986:  Diego Maradona of Argentina handles the ball past Peter Shilton of England to score the opening goal of the World Cup Quarter Final at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico. Argentina won 2-1. \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    The England-Argentina football rivalry is unique because it is one of few intercontinental world football rivalries. The sides have actually only met 14 times. 

    Argentina claimed Geoff Hurst was offside when he scored in the quarterfinals of the 1966 World Cup. The 1982 Falklands War made the team's encounter in the 1986 World Cup a huge deal for fans of both sides before it began, especially Argentinians. Afterward, however, all anyone will every talk about is Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal.

    England fans are still very embittered that Maradona's goal was allowed to stand, but Argentinians still hold resentment over Falklands. This bitterness will likely stick around for a while.   

8. Benfica vs. Porto

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    O Clasico between Benfica in Porto is one of the most important matches in Portugal each year. Porto is the newer power on the scene while Benfica is the historically more dominant side. 

    Benfica is more successful domestically while Porto has more trophies internationally and overall. 

    The divides between Lisbon (Benfica) and south Portugal (Porto) give this rivalry its intensity. The two regions already have great animosity toward each other with the capital city seen as more laid back and showy while the south is more hard working.

    In 1997, media disputes led to national teammates Joao Pinto of Benfica and Paulinho Santos of Porto fighting and declaring hatred for one another.

    Photo courtesy of clubedoslagartos.blogspot.com.  

7. Inter Milan vs. AC Milan

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    MILAN, ITALY - APRIL 02:  Wesley Sneijder of FC Inter Milan and Mark Van Bommel of AC Milan during the Serie A match between AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on April 2, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty I
    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    The Derby della Madonnina is one of the most followed derbies in the world. Both teams have 18 Serie A titles (after AC Milan won the title this year), though the red-and-black has been more successful in Europe and has more overall trophies.

    In the 1960s, Sandro Mazzola starred for Inter, and Gianni Rivera was his counterpart at Milan, and they become two of the best Italian players on the time. Great derbies intensified the rivalry, and the two players refused to play together for the national side. 

    The two clubs have also met in the Champions League with the most famous of which was in April 2005. Milan was leading 1-0 and Inter fans became incensed and began throwing things onto the pitch. A flare hit Milan keeper Dida, and the match was abandoned.

6. Boca Juniors vs. River Plate

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    The Superclasico is the two teams from Buenos Aires, Boca Juniors and River Plate, and captivates almost all of Argentinian football fans. It is also known as one of the fiercest and most entertaining derbies in the world as both sets of fans are very fiery. 

    Fans celebrate victories and taunt the loser for days afterward, and many matches end in fan riots. The Superclasico is also world renowned among football fans, and many tourist packages to the city include tickets to the match.

    Photo courtesy of unlimitedtopten.com 

5. England vs. Scotland

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    The oldest international derby in the world is England vs. Scotland. It was first played in 1872, but the annual match was discontinued in 1989.

    In 1961, England won 9-3 which led to Scottish goalkeeper Frank Haffey emigrating to Australia, and the stereotype of bad Scottish goalkeepers was born. In 1967, Scotland beat England less than a year after england had won the World Cup and hadn't lost in 19 matches.

    Hooliganism plagued many matches and is a leading reason why the FA has been hesitant to reinstate the match.  

    In 110 matches, England has 45 wins and Scotland has 41. The most recent match was in November 1999 in Euro 2000 qualifying.  

4. Brazil vs. Argentina

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    The Battle of the South Americans pits two of the most famous footballing nations against each other. Brazil and Argentina have produced some of the best players the world has ever seen, and both are always favorites to win every World Cup.

    There are no real political divides between the two nations, so this rivalry was born solely out of football. They first met in 1914, and Brazil has 35 wins and five World Cups to Argentina's 34 and two. Argentina has also won 14 Copa America's. 

    The battle of Pele or Maradona also adds some spice to the rivalry, but in a few years (if that), Lionel Messi could make that argument completely null.

    Photo courtesy of razor19284.blogspot.com 

3. Celtic vs. Rangers

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    GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Celtic fans let off smoke flares during the Scottish Cup 5th round match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland..  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
    Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

    The Old Firm derby is one of the oldest derbies in football and one of the most contested as Rangers and Celtic have met 395 times since 1888, and time has not made the rivalry less intense. This season saw some of the most heated Old Firm matches in years with hundreds of arrests made and of course, plenty of players and managers sent off. 

    The rivalry stems from political and religious beliefs. Rangers is considered a Protestant and Unionist club while Celtic is the Catholic and Republican.

    The Old Firm derby is also the fiercest rivalry in world football with some of the worst cases of violence, and it is rare for players to play for both teams.

    In 1980, 9,000 fans of both teams fought on the pitch in the worst ever pitch invasion in football. Around Glasgow and even in Northern Ireland, violence has been shown to increase on derby day.   

2. Liverpool vs. Manchester United

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 06:  Rafael of Manchester United is restrained following his challenge on Lucas of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on March 6, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (P
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    The North West derby is still the biggest game in English football every year, and Liverpool and Manchester United are the most successful English clubs by a long way. 

    Liverpool dominated English football from when they were promoted in 1962 through the 1980s while United won the odd trophy now and again. Since the start of the Premier League in 1992 however, the tides have turned, and the Red Devils have claimed 12 EPL titles taking them to 19 this year, one more than Liverpool, with the Reds last league title coming in 1990.

    Manchester United has 59 trophies, 34 domestic, to Liverpool's 58 and 32. Liverpool however has five European Cups to United's three. As manager of Liverpool, Bob Paisley is the only manager in history with three European Cups.   

    Since 1964, no player has ever transfered directly from one club to the other though some have played for both. In recent years, the dislike between Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez intensified the rivalry, especially after "Rafa's Rant"in early 2009, which preceded Liverpool basically laying down and handing the Red Devils their 18th title. 

    Now that Kenny Dalglish is back at Anfield, the old days of the Liverpool seem to be on their way back, which only means good things for the North West derby. 

1. Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

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    MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27:  Lassana Diarra of Real Madrid and Carles Puyol of Barcelona clash during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 27, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.  (P
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    El Clasico, despite the recent disgraceful matches, is the biggest rivalry in world football. Behind the Champions League Final, it is the most followed club football match in the world. They are by far the two most successful clubs in Spain with Barcelona having 75 trophies to its name and Madrid 74, though Madrid has nine European Cups to Barca's four. They are also two of the most revered clubs across the world and have featured some of the best ever players.

    Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo currently gives the derby an extra spark, but it doesn't even need that.  

    The are political divides between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, but the rivalry was really forged with the Alfredo di Stefano transfer to Spain. Both clubs thought they had signed the Argentinian, but after some confusion, he ended up playing for Madrid.

    Real Madrid is seen as the most popular football club worldwide with hundreds of millions of followers though they have been unable to defeat Barcelona much in recent years, and the Blaugrana have become more popular across Europe. Recent ugliness on the pitch between the Spanish players could also lead to problems for the World Champion Spanish National Team.


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