Galatasaray ultras

The Greatest Rivalries in Football: From El Clasico to the Derby Della Madonnina

There is only one thing that can make football more thrilling, exciting, and fun, and that is a good rivalry. You can find many rivalries in this game throughout history. Some of these rivalries stem from cultural differences, religious tendencies, and histories, while others have their roots in politics and borders.

AC Milan and Inter Milan players watching their supporters lighting flares


In this article, we will look at some of the greatest rivalries in football. We will look at teams from El Classico to the Derby Della Madonnina and see what makes these rivalries so great.

Here are the top rivalries in football that fans love to watch and cannot seem to get enough of

1. El Clasico (Real Madrid vs Barcelona)

El Clasico is probably the fiercest derby in the world, originated in the 1900s due to political unrest. It started due to the Spanish Civil War, where people showed their political views and inclination by wearing the jerseys of their teams.

Karim Benzema striking past barcelina goal keeper


The completely contrasting political views of both teams and the history that they share add more fuel to the fire, resulting in highly thrilling moments of sportsmanship, emotional encounters, and overall an extremely jaw-dropping play.           

2. Derby Della Madonnina (AC Milan vs Inter Milan)

The rivalry between these two teams is so deep-rooted and stiff that in 1960 two players from both teams, i.e., Gianni Rivera and Sandro Mazollo refused to play alongside each other in the national team.

Zlatan Ibrahimović & Romelu Lukaku fight during the Milan derbry


Based in Italy, these two teams not only share the same city but also the same stadium. This derby has its origins in the social and financial divide between the fans and stakeholders from both sides. Nevertheless, it is always fun to watch these soccer giants go head-to-head.     

3. The North Western Derby (Manchester United vs Liverpool)

The North Western derby takes place between two of the biggest clubs in England. These clubs are considered the best in the game, not only in their country of origin but all over the football world.

Mohammad Salah tries to control the football two United players


This rivalry has its origins in historic, economic, and industrial rivalries that date back several decades. It is fueled further by competition and the proximity between two of the major cities that the teams represent. Since 1964, no player from either club has moved to the opposite team, which shows how deep this rivalry goes.          

4. The North London Derby (Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur)

This rivalry started back in 1913, and even today, whenever there is a match, streets, pubs, and bus stations are jam-packed with hyped fans and supporters. This rivalry was engineered when Arsenal moved their ground to North London in the early 1900s. This move was resented by Tottenham, who considered that place to be their territory.

Arsenal & Hotspur Players fighting


This rivalry is further made stronger by the ethnic diversity of the supporters, religious backgrounds, and cultural differences, which makes the games so much fun to watch.           

5. The Old Firm Derby (Celtics vs Rangers)

These two teams are from Glasgow, and they have the top rivalry not only in the UK but the entire Europe. They are Scotland's richest and most popular clubs and have different religious and cultural histories and beliefs.

Rangers are predominantly protestant, while Celtics belong to the Catholic school of thought, which can lead to serious and heated moments between the players and the fans.

Celtic & Rangers players greeting with a huge tifo in the BG


The rivalry between these teams can get violent and intense at times. In a match in 1980, about 9000 fans from these teams went on a head-to-head collision right in the stadium, which is considered among the worst pitch invasions in the History of football.       

6. El Superclasico (River Plate vs Boca Juniors)

This rivalry has its roots in unequal financial and geographical distribution between the two teams. These clubs own some of the best football players ever seen, not only in Argentina but in the rest of the world as well.

Boca Juniors & River Plate players before the match


This rivalry is so great that when you plan a tour to Buenos Aires, they often include tickets to a football match between these two giants. Very few football rivalries contain this much excitement, intensity, and emotional weight. 

7. Derby Della Capitale (Lazio vs Roma) 

The rivalry between these teams reflects social, cultural, historical, and social divides in the city of Rome. The matches between these two teams are extremely heated, and you can see passion and intensity in every player and fan.

Roma & Lazio players in the ground with a huge banner in the BG


This particular derby is awaited the most, not only in Italy but all across the globe. The games take place in the same stadium where almost 73,000 fans get together to support their players.       

8. The Cairo Derby (Al Ahly vs Zamalek)

This is a rivalry between two Egyptian clubs who have been at the top of the Egyptian premier league at different times. These teams are from Greater Cairo, and their matches are filled with so much passion and excitement.

Zamalek player on the ground as his team mates & Al Ahly player watch on


Often, referees are hired from outside to ensure the game is clean and impartial. These games are often followed by riots and fights, showing how much value the fans give to these matches. The game has about 50 million domestic viewers and the number is still growing.      

9. The Intercontinental Derby (Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahçe)

This rivalry is also known as the Kitalararasi Derbi or Intercontinental Derby. This match is played between Galatasaray SK and Fenerbahçe SK. This match is considered to be among the biggest football matches in Turkiye. The first match between these two teams took place in 1909. So, they have been rivals for over 100 years. 

Galatasaray player trying to score among Fenerbahçe players


The term intercontinental derby was given to this match because Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe are the two most teams in the Asian and European regions of the Instanbul. The matches between these two teams are always intense owing to the cultural and geographic differences between the fans. 

Final Thoughts

So, these are some of the most popular rivalries in football that fans crave all year round. The matches between these teams engage people on a deeper and more emotional level, increasing the game's thrill and excitement.

Galatasaray Ultras


It is true that a healthy rivalry can make a great game even greater, and the rivalry between the above teams is a very good example of that. They make this game much more fun to watch. Sometimes you don’t even notice, and hours pass by as you get fully immersed in the magic of football during such matches.     

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