Serie A: The 10 Biggest Rivalries in Italian Football

Mikhail Turner@MikhailTurnerContributor IIIDecember 24, 2011

Serie A: The 10 Biggest Rivalries in Italian Football

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    Rivalry games in any sport attract attention, even from neutral teams. The most notable Italian football rivalries are watched eagerly by neutrals and fans alike.

    Rivalry games can be the most exciting encounters in a season. In some cases, these rivalries can decide which team wins the league title in a given year.

    The rivalries on this list are in no particular order. Fans of one team may place particular importance on one rivalry, but in turn, their opponents may not feel the same.

    All of these rivalries are the biggest in Italy.

    Click through and enjoy!

Internazionale vs. Milan

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    The Derby della Madonnina—or the Milan Derby—is one of the most well-known derbies in World Football. AC Milan and Inter Milan share a stadium and have shared some players as well. 

    The founders of Inter Milan split from the club because of a disagreement over signing foreign players, and so it began. Once the two sides became separate, Inter Milan was seen as the club of the bourgeoisie and AC Milan was seen as the club of the working class.

    Both clubs have been back and forth in terms of success. Inter Milan was more successful in the 1960s, but AC Milan was dominant in the 1980s and 1990s.

Internazionale vs. Juventus

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    The Calciopoli scandal ramped up this rivalry even more, but Juventus and Inter have been at each other's throats for some time.

    The Derby d'Italia games have always been hotly contested and usually pit two of the strongest teams in the Seria A against one another.

Lazio vs. Roma

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    The Rome Derby is certainly one of the most hotly contested rivalries worldwide. The "ultras" from both sides have been a major part of the extreme animosity in this rivalry.

    In 2004, a game was abandoned because of rioting in the stands.

    The rivalry has both geographical and political importance to the fans and the organizations. The Derby della Capitale gives one of the competitors a chance to claim the title of best team in the capital—at least for one game or one season.

Genoa vs. Sampdoria

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    Known as the Derby della Lanterna, in its current form the Genoa vs. Sampdoria derby is a result of two smaller teams, Andrea Doria and Sampier, merging to form Sampdoria.

    Genoa was the big club in the region, but Mussolini's government disliked the club's British heritage and wanted to created a major club as a rival. After various failed attempts to merge clubs, Sampdoria was finally born.

    At this point, the derby became a lot more even and newly merged Sampdoria won a good number of games. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the derby became more significant on a national level after both teams did well in the Serie A.

Napoli vs. Roma

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    The Derby del Sole was historically at its peak during the 1970s and 1980s when the likes of Diego Maradona took part.

    Cultural differences between the southern-based Naples fans and the Roma fans from the capital have led to various riots and fans being banned from traveling with their respective teams.

    While such behavior is not necessarily representative of all Napoli and Roma fans, it goes to show just how bad things can get between two sets of supporters.

Palermo vs. Catania

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    The Derby di Sicilia is a showdown between clubs who are from the two main cities in Sicily, Catania and Palermo.

    While the games themselves have not been too frequent, mainly due to the fact that the teams were generally in different divisions, they have been fierce games. In 2007, riots between the supporters led to the death of a policeman.

Juventus vs. Torino

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    The Derby della Mole pits the more internationally known Juventus against city rival Torino. Torino was formed by a group of Juventus dissidents after an argument about the possible relocation of Juventus.

    As with some of the other Italian derbies on this list, there is a class divide in this derby. Juventus is seen as the club that is followed by the wealthier folk, while Torino has more working class support.

    In recent years, Juventus has dominated proceedings on the pitch, thus making this less of a rivalry in footballing terms.

Fiorentina vs. Juventus

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    The conflict between Fiorentina and Juventus is probably one of the few Italian rivalries that is mostly a result of incidents on the pitch.

    Fiorentina felt it was victim of some questionable referee decisions in the latter stages of the 1981-82 campaign—especially in a vital game against Juventus. Those events—as well as the subsequent sale of Fiorentina star Roberto Baggio to Juventus—helped increase the animosity.  

    Both clubs had somewhat similar successes before this, but Juventus has gained the upper hand in the rivalry since then. While the Fiorentina fans see this as a grudge match, Juventus fans have created even more anger by claiming their other rivalry games are more important.

Internazionale vs. Roma

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    All the big teams in Italy have a big problem with each other. That holds true again here with the Internazionale vs. Roma rivalry.

    This rivalry has seen its fair share of nasty moments. With two sides among the strongest in the Serie A, one can see why.

Roma vs. Juventus

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    Most all of Italy's big clubs have had beef with Juventus—Roma is no different. This rivalry has been strong since the 1980s, when Roma players felt they were on the wrong end of a referee decision, which enabled Juventus to win the title.

    After Roma coach Zdenek Zeman accused some Juventus players of doping in the early 1990s, they were finally cleared. Such an incident is evidence of the dislike these two teams have had for each other.

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