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Top 10 Football Rivalries

Football gets passions running high at the best of times and no more so than when your team is taking on their biggest rivals. It's these spectacles that really capture the imagination and the ones that fans look forward to all season. Be it your local side taking on their near neighbours to two of the biggest sides in the world going head-to-head, these are the games that really matter and have rustled up 10 of the feistiest in the game.

10. Rome Derby

AS Roma were founded in 1927 after the merger of three teams based in the Italian capital. It was the brainchild of Bennito Mussolini, who wanted a Rome based club to challenge the dominance of the Northern Italian clubs. Lazio refused the merger and thus a resentment and rivalry was born, with the first 'Derby della Capitale' taking place in 1929.  The contest between the two sides from the Eternal City is the one in Italy most likely to throw up some hairy moments both on and off the pitch. In 1979 a Lazio fan became the first fan in Italy to be killed by in-stadium violence when he was hit by a flair from the Roma end leaving the match with an unwanted place in history. The rivalry is also seen as a political one with the 'ultras' of Lazio often seen as having right-wing views where as Roma's followers are seen as more left leaning.

9. Ajax v Feyenoord

A tale of two cities, that sees many of the stereo types about the laid back and liberally tolerant Dutch go out of the window. Amsterdam, where Ajax are based, is seen as cosmipolitan and up-market as the country's captial, where as Rotterdam, where Feyenoord are based, is a port city which is often seen as the gritty more working class of the two. The common phrase in Holland is that 'While Amsterdam dreams, Rotterdam works'. Ajax are by far the more successful on the pitch though Feyenoord lay claim to being the true football club of the proletariat, with their De Kuip stadium producing a great atmosphere on match days, in particularly when Ajax are in town.

8. Belgrade Derby

The clash between Red Star and Partizan Belgrade often sees the stadiums resemble war zones with smoke from flares shrouding the air. Things got even more serious in 2013, when Partizan fans started a full scale fire in the away end on their trip to Red Star's Marakana stadium. Known as the 'Eternal Derby' the two sides have dominated football in Serbia and since the break up of the former Yugoslavia in 1992, have won the league every year but once between them. In total they have won 26 league titles a piece and clashes between the two often lead to nasty scenes in the stands.

7. Istanbul Derby

A rivalry that stretches two continents with Fenerbache coming from Istanbul's Asian side where as Galatasary are from the European. Another rivalry that transcends social classes after Gala were founded by group of students from a public school with Fenerbache the side of the blue collar workers and are affectionately known as the the 'peoples club'. Graeme Souness whilst manager of Galatasaray, was offended by comments made by the Fenerbache chairman and after Galatasaray's cup win away to their rivals Souness planted a flag in his sides colours right in the centre circle of their Fener's stadium.

6. Athens Derby

Rarely has a local derby been dubbed something more impressive than the “Derby of eternal enemies” but not satisfied with that moniker the match between Olympiakos and Panathanaikos is also referred to as “Mother of all battles.” Safe to say it has some build up in the Greek press and so it should. They are the two most successful clubs in the country’s history so are natural rivalries but it also harks back to class differences in the way the teams were set up, differences that still create friction today.

5. Old Firm Derby

The clash between Celtic and Rangers is one steeped in religous and political conflict. Celtic, the club of Glasgow's catholic population, and Rangers whose support is traditionally protestant. Scotland's two biggest clubs contest what is known as the 'Old Firm' derby in a clash that is always a heated encounter though has not been played as regularly due to Rangers recent demise. That still doesn't detract from what is a bitter rivalry that has been marred in the past by sectarian chanting.

4. Germany v Netherlands

One of the standout rivalries at a national level is the bitter feud between Germany and the Netherlands on the football field which puts England’s rivalry with the Germans to shame. It dates back to hatred from WWII and has manifested itself in blatant acts of violence and grotesque amounts of spit being exchanged on the pitch when the two countries have met. The Germans have had the success with their pragmatic footballing approach where as the Dutch and their 'total football' claim to be football's moral victors.

3. Argentina v Brazil

Regularly producing the best players on the planet and being next-door neighbours is bound to create sporting rivalry and that is exactly what exists between Argentina and Brazil. Even in the more gentlemanly footballing days of the 1930s there were incidents of racism and policeman escorting players from the pitch in contests between the team. This has developed into accusations of tranquilising opponents amongst other things, it’s rarely dull between the two nations.

2. Superclasico

Many would say that River Plate taking on Boca Juniors in the Buenos Aires derby is the greatest spectacle in club football in the world. Rarely do passions in global football run as highly as when these teams meet at either El Monumental or La Bombonera with supposedly 70% of Argentina’s football fans supporting one of the two clubs. It has got the lot, political geographical and cultural differences at Argentina's two biggest sides go head-to-head.

 1. El Clasico

One of the most popular games in world football with millions  tuning in every time Barcelona and Real Madrid square-off, which is an awful lot across various competitions. Strong political divisions dating that were magnified in the Civil War are the basis for the distain between the two clubs and the immense quality of both sides is what makes it all the more exciting. Pigs heads have been thrown and fingers have been shoved into eyes amongst a plethora of other bizarre things in the fixture’s history. A red-hot rivalry that also encapsulates some of the world's greatest players, making this the biggest club game on the planet.


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