The most famous football rivalries in the world

Sun 11 October 2020 | 3:58

Rivalries exist in every work, sport, and competition. Football is no exception. Here in this article, we want to review some of the biggest football rivalries in the world.

Rivalry is often viewed as a negative word. But it's not, at least not in football. The most-watched football matches were between native or international rivals and it will be like that in the future.Not only a healthy Competition between a team or an individual makes a game more interesting to watch but also it makes the opponents push each other and grow more to be better than the past.

Some rivalries might be created among the clubs in the same region, city, or country to see who is the best club in that area. Some others can be traced back to more than a century and there may be other reasons such as religious beliefs, etc.

You might ask yourself what should a derby have to be among the biggest rivalries in football world. Well, it depends on many things but for example, we can consider it's importance for football fans or the controversy and potential between clubs.

What are the most famous football rivalries in the world?

Here we listed the

Greatest Rivalries in World Football

for you. Tune in and enjoy.

Al Ahly vs. Zamalek

The clash of The two Egyptian clubs is considered to be one of the top derbies in Africa. Ahly and Zamalek both are located in Greater Cairo and they were named by the CAF as the 1st and 2nd African Clubs of the 20th Century respectively. Their first league meeting was in the 1948–1949 season of the Egyptian Premier League which the first leg was ended ins a draw and the second leg was won by Ahly in their home pitch.

Although this clash is among the biggest football rivalries in the world, it's one of the most violent ones as well. World Soccer Magazine selected the Cairo Derby as the 10th most fierce derby in the world.During history, numerous fights, riots, and brawls occurred by the fans of both clubs. These derby events are dangerous before, throughout, and after the match. One of the notorious conflicts was in 1966 when rioting fans set fire to a factory near the other team’s stadium.

Most of the time, to control the riots and biased fans, these derby events will take place in a neutral venue and foreign referees officiate the game.

Esteghlal vs. Persepolis           

No match in Iran is more entertaining in comparison with the time when these two clubs compete with each other in Tehran's derby. This match was listed as the most important derby in Asia by World Soccer magazine. It also ranked 22nd among the most important derbies in the world.

One reason that makes this rivalry one of the

biggest football rivalries in the world

is that most of the time it takes place in one of the world’s biggest stadiums, the Azadi Stadium placed in Tehran, Iran. In every match, both clubs supporters almost fill the Azadi Stadium which means more than 80,000 attendants take apart in this derby.

The first match between the teams took place on April 5, 1968, at Amjadieh Stadium(Shiroudi) which ended up in a draw. Since then there have been 86 matches took place between these two Iranian clubs which nearly 23 of them were won by Esteghlal,24 by Persepolis, and other matches ended up in a draw. But if we count Friendlies and Exhibitions,


won more matches.

It's worth mentioning that the record holder of the most goals scored is Safar Iranpak, who played for


, with 7 goals.

Ajax v. Feyenoord

The rivalry between these two Dutch clubs is the main rivalry of the Netherland and of course, one of the world’s best soccer rivalries. What makes this competition so important is the value of it for the clubs' cities, Amsterdam and Rotterdam.The two cities have always been on fight till now due to their different beliefs and cultures. Amsterdam has more liberal beliefs while  Rotterdammers more lean on right-wing beliefs.

This variety of ideas created disputes and that biases generated violence that even got its way to sports.Since the beginning, there have been many brawls between the fans of both clubs which took away lives and injured many others.The most notorious incident was in 1997 when an


fan named Carlo Picornie was beaten to death by rival supporters.

There have been 195 between the two Dutch clubs which most of them were won by Ajax(near 88 wins). The last match between them was on 27 October 2019 which Ajax won 4-0.

Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04

The rivalry between  Dortmund and Schalke goes back to May 1925 when The Royal Blues achieved a 4–2  victory against BVB. These clubs, which both are located in Ruhr region, compete in a derby named Revierderby. But it must be stated that the Revierderby is the name given to any match between two clubs in the Ruhr but Shalke and Dortmund are the strongest in that area thus, it almost always refers to the derby between the two main clubs.

The derby most of the time takes place in Veltins-Arena (Schalke) or Signal Iduna Park(Dortmund). But some matches have taken apart in stadiums like Parkstadion, Glückauf-Kampfbahn, Rote Erde, etc.

Till now, these two German clubs have faced each other for a total of 156 times(180 if we count Friendlies) which


won 60,  BVB 53, and 43 matches ended in a draw. So, Schalke has the lead in one of the biggest football rivalries in the world. The latest game between the clubs was on 16 May 2020 which BVB won 4-0.

Lazio vs. Roma

Italians call this match "Derby Della Capitale" because these two Italian clubs are based in Italy's capital, Rome. It is viewed to be one of the fiercest intra-city derbies in the country as well as one of the

world’s best soccer rivalries

.Almost always match takes place in Stadio Olimpico, where both teams call it their home pitch. The first derby was played on 8 December 1929 and ended 1–0 for Roma with a goal by Rodolfo Volk.

The cultural, economical, social, and political differences gave this derby more heat, which ended up in violence many times even in the early history of these matches.In 1979, a Lazio fan was hit in the eye and killed by a flare fired by a Roma fan which was the first but not lasts violent braw by the fans.

The most infamous incident, which led to a riot, was in 2004 when the match was suspended when Roma Ultras said a child had been killed by the police before the game, which wasn't true and anger the audience.

During 159 official matches, Roma has won 58 and Lazio has won 42 matches.

Greece vs. Turkey

The next two teams which are a part of the biggest football rivalries in the world are Greece and Turkey national teams. Throughout history, they face each other 14 times.

The rivalry of these teams is not just related to football. These countries had some intense relationships that go back to history. gradually in the 15th century, The Ottoman Empire conquered most of Greece which caused a war afterward that is called the Greek War of Independence and Greece became the first Balkan and European nation to set free themselves from the Turks. Then In 1919, Greece wanted to conquer Turkey but ended up defeated. There is more to the infamous tension between teams but here its not possible to talk about all.

The first time that the teams faced each other was a friendly match in Athens so Greece had the home advantage but Turkey achieved victory. Turkey won 7 more matches Throughout history. The last match between the nations was on 30 May 2019.

Porto vs. Sporting CP

One of the most important football matches in Portugal is the match often called "Dragões vs. Leões."This match represents North vs. South Portugal so maybe the reason that this rivalry is among the biggest

soccer rivalries in the wordl

is its domestic importance.The matches either take place in Estádio José Alvalade home of Sporting or Estádio do Dragão which is the home pitch of Porto. Till now,18 matches have taken place in Porto's stadium and 17 in Sporting's home.

There have been 6 finals between the two teams. It's worth mentioning that the first Campeonato de Portugal, Nowadays known as Taça de Portugal, was decided in a best-of-three series between


and Sporting and eventually won by Porto.

The first League match of the two clubs was in 1934 which Porto won 4-2. Since then, there have been 236 matches in which the two rivals face each other. Porto has won 89 times and Sporting won 82. The last meeting of the clubs was in Primeira Liga on 15 July 2020. Porto won 2-0 that day.

France vs. Italy

Another national rivalry is among the two of Europe's most powerful teams. The history of this battle, which is one of the biggest football rivalries in the world, goes back to 100 years earlier. The first time the nations faced each other was in a Friendly on 15 May 1910. Italians scored 6 goals and dominated France.Speaking of dominance, each team had its own shining period and destroyed the opposing side during those periods. Before 1982, Italy beat France on many occasions but after that France team had not lost a single game against Italy, until the 2006 World Cup final.

The 2006 World Cup might be the most famous match between the teams because of many things. One of them is Zidane's headbutt on  Marco Materazzi in the extra time when Materazzi got on Zidane's nerves by tugging his shirt. Eventually, Italy won in the penalties.

In total, Italy and France played against each other 39 times which 18 were won by Italy,11 were won by France and other matches ended up in a draw. Their last match was a Friendly match on 1 June 2018 and France won 3-1.

Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund

When these two dominating forces face each other in Der Klassiker or commonly known as "German Clasico" there is no match in German football that can top this derby.Most of the time the events took place in either Allianz Arena, Munich, or Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund. The game often sees record attendance but of course not during COVID 19.

In the early days,


was stronger and on 16 October 1965, when was the two clubs first match, BVB won 2–0. Even On 5 May 1966, Dortmund won the 1965–66 European Cup Winners' Cup against Liverpool and became the first German club to achieve that trophy.But then, Bayern's dominance began. Bayern won the European Cup Winners' Cup and gained some victories against their rivals but the real deal was in 1971 when Bayern defeated Dortmund 11–1. That's s Bayern's biggest Bundesliga victory!

These days both Bayern and Dortmund are still great teams and the players of the teams play with an effort to win their rival and this is one of the reasons that place this match among the Greatest Rivalries in World Football, There have been 127 games between these two german clubs which Bayern have won the most matches(61 official matches).

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A.C. Milan vs. Inter Milan

The Milan derby represents one of the biggest football rivalries in the world. The two Italian clubs have been rivals since their foundation due to their short distance from each other. For every match, the players, personnel, and the fans gather in San Siro stadium to see who will win the derby and represent the city.The first derby match was in the Italian Football Championship on 10 January 1909 which Rosoonery won 3-2.

There are some exchanging of insulting chants and derogatory banners but the fans get into fights very rarely. Although we can mention the 2005 derby when the match stopped after a flare thrown from the Inter crowd hit Milan’s keeper in the shoulder. Generally, the clubs face each other 211 times which 76 of them were won by Internazionale, and 73 of them were won by Milan.

It's also interesting to know that the derby is often called Derby Della Madonnina by Italians. The name comes from a local golden Madonna statue on the highest spire atop the Milan Duomo.  

Brazil vs. Argentina

The Clash of these South American nations is one of the

biggest rivalries in football world

.they have had plenty of big games on the biggest stages.The early history between the countries heathen this rivalry up a little bit but there is no disagreement or non-sport fights between nations. So this rivalry almost was born solely out of football.

There have been many incidents, fights, and scandals during several matches of these teams. The "holy water" scandal was one of them which happened in the 1990 world cup. Argentina won the game 1-0 but after the match Brazilian player Branco accusing the Argentina training staff of giving Maradonna a bottle of water laced with tranquilizers while they were tending to an injured player. Years later Maradonna himself admits that it was holy water but the staff of that time denied the incident. The are many other incidents that we can't cover in this article.

Back then, the rivalry of Pele and Maradonna and now, the presence of Lionel Messi add some spice to these games.There have been 107 matches between the national teams.

Boca Juniors vs. River Plate

The derby between the two Buenos Aires opponents is among the biggest football rivalries in the world as well as the fiercest ones. Many magazines rank this rivalry as the top football rivalry in the world of football. The derby is called "Superclásico."

Like some other rivals in this list, the club supporters have different social classes. Most Boca fans are from the working class and Boca is known as people clubs while River fans are wealthier and in a higher class and they're called Los Millonarios (The Millionaires). generally, that makes their fanbase But of course, both clubs have a supporter from different classes.Nevertheless, the matches are very violent. Fans curse at the other team supporters, boo them, behave rudely, and taunt at the loser. Most of these derbies end up in a riot.

The most extreme incident was On June 23, 1968, in El Monumental, after a draw between the two teams, 71 fans were killed and 150 were left injured in a crush at gate 12. That was a disaster in Argentinian history.The two old rivals have met 248 times and most of them are won by Boca Juniors. 

Liverpool vs. Manchester United

The Northwest Derby is one of the most important matches of the English Premier League and English football in general. These to clubs are the most successful EPL clubs and one of the reasons that make this match entertaining is that we can watch the English titans clash.In total, The Reds and Devils have won 39 league titles, 19 FA Cups, 13 League Cups, 36 FA Community Shields, nine European Cups, four UEFA Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, five UEFA Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup, and two FIFA Club World Cups.

Their first meeting was on 28 April 1894 and Manchester was called Newton Heath back then. Liverpool beat the Newton Heath 2-0. Since then, The two English clubs have faced each other for a total of 204 times.

Man United

was the winner for 80 events,67 times The Reds achieved victory, and 57 matches were ended in a draw.

Ryan Giggs is the player who has the record of Most appearances in the Northwest Derby, Steven Gerrard, George Wall, Sandy Turnbull are the top scorers with 9 goals each and this derby in general is one of the biggest soccer rivalries in the wordl.The clubs latest meeting was on 19 January 2020 which Liverpool won 2-0.

Celtic vs. Rangers

Scotland's most entertaining match. This event is commonly known as the Old Firm derby. The real reason why they call it  "old firm" is somehow unclear but some people say it may be influenced by the two clubs' initial match in which the commentators referred to the teams as "like two old, firm friends."There are other rumors as well.

Most part of this rivalry relates to political and religious beliefs. Rangers are considered a Protestant and Unionist club while


is the Catholic and Republican.

This cultural disagreement led to brawls, fights, and violence on and of the pitch. The violence has even resulted in several deaths over the years and some fans have been involved in vandalism and pitch invasions.

There have been 420 matches between clubs which Rangers have won most of them with 162 victories. The latest match between the club was a 1–2 win for Rangers on 29 December 2019.

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

This may seem to be a little cliche but you can't deny the fact that El Clásico is one of the biggest football rivalries in the world as the matter of fact, it's the biggest one. For every match millions and millions of fans and supporters around the world, even the ones that don't tend to watch football regularly, watch the game to see who will win the following El Clásico.

The rivalry of cities also adds heat to this event. Madrid is traditionally related to the Spanish royal family thus, is more representative of the nation. On the other hand,


is located in Catalonia, which has its own language and a distinct regional identity.

Barca and Madrid first met on 13 May 1902 and Barca achieved a 3-1 victory. Since then there have been 244 official matches between the clubs.One other reason that made El Clásico so special was the rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo which unfortunately we can't see that anymore but it gave us good memories.

The latest match was on 1 March 2020 in the Spanish La Liga which Madrid scored 2 goals and defeated Barca.  

So that was it for the list of the

biggest football rivalries in the world

.Hope you liked it. 


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