The 5 Fiercest Derbies In World Football

The 5 Fiercest Derbies In World Football
Sep 10, 2016


Today marks the day of the first big derby matches of the season, with the two Manchester clubs, Huddersfield and Leeds and the Old Firm clubs taking each other on in an action-packed day fueled by old feuds and new faces. So on the day of the most highly anticipated day of the season thus far, we’ll be counting down the five most fiercely contested derbies in world football.

5) Manchester United vs Manchester City


While United have a far richer history, in recent times Manchester City have become somewhat of a powerhouse of Premier League and European football, so the derby between the two Manchester clubs has become a far more exciting match in recent years. This season’s derby looks to be one of the most closely contested Manchester derbies of recent times, with both teams making early strides towards being league title contenders. However it is not just the players who have a history of rivalry, the two recently acquired managers of the sides, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have had their fair share of disagreements in the past, with the two managing Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively in previous managerial tenures. Jose and Pep’s friendship spiralled into turmoil after Pep was chosen for the manager’s role at Barcelona over Mourinho when both were in contention for the role following Frank Rijkaard’s departure from the Spanish club in 2008. Since then Jose has developed a strong disliking for Pep (while still respecting him greatly) and they contested many great El Clasico matches in their times at the respected clubs, with touchline spats and pre-match mind games playing a great part in the occasions.

4) El Clasico – Real Madrid vs Barcelona

This rivalry has established as Madrid and Barcelona are the two largest cities in Spain and they are sometimes historically identified as opposing political positions, with Madrid representing Spanish nationalism and Barcelona representing Catalan nationalism. The rivalry is regarded as one of the biggest in world sport and the conflict between the two clubs has long surpassed the realms of just sport, with the political rivalry spanning back to the early 1930’s. When hooligans and ultras established for the two respected clubs in the early 1980’s the rivalry became more intense and violent acts began to take place between the two groups of ultras. In recent years there have been many displays of footballing greatness in El Clasico’s, including when the two teams met in the 2002 Champions League final, where Real Madrid came through as victors over the two legs in a match that was dubbed by Spanish media as the Match of the Century.

3) Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce – The Eternal Rivalry

This is a rivalry which concerns the two most successful clubs in the Turkish Super Lig; it is also a local derby and one of the many Istanbul derbies. The derby has been fiercely contested for over a century and has developed into a bitter and intense affair, attracting record crowds of equal support for the two teams throughout the century. Riots took place in 1934 in what was supposed to be a friendly match between the clubs, however, both teams wanted to win so badly that the match was plagued by hard fouls and feuds between the fans of the two rivals. The referee was forced to abandon the game as the pitch resembled conditions of a war zone. Both of the clubs compete with each other for the title of the most successful club in Turkey in more than just football, with the rivalry extending to basketball and volleyball. The derby has also endured some incredibly dark times, where following the derby in May 2013, young Fener fan Burak Yildirim was stabbed to death by a Galatasaray hooligan. At the same march, a Fenerbahce fan chanted racist slurs at the African players of Galatasaray. This rivalry is one of the most fiercely contested in Europe and there seems to be no signs of the tension between the clubs dying down anytime soon.

2) Celtic vs Rangers – The Old Firm

Nicknamed the Old Firm derby, the rivalry between the two, like El Clasico, spans far beyond the realms of football, with religion playing a big part in why the clubs have such a bitter relationship. Celtic represent the Catholic religion and associates itself with Ireland, while Rangers are protestant and use the Union Flag amongst their supporters. The clubs have historically had an intense rivalry on and off the field, with rioting between both extreme ultras and casual supporters of the club not an uncommon sight outside the stadium in an Old Firm derby. The supporters are heavily separated by police before games and there are usually over 10 arrests of trouble causing fans following/during the derby between the two Glasgow clubs, whose stadiums are only 7 miles apart.

1 – The Derby of the Eternal Enemies

Nicknamed the Mother Of All Battles this match takes place between the most successful clubs in Greek football. The feud between the two clubs is one of the most intense in world football, thus this derby has always been a classic for the Greek capital, as well as the whole of Greece, and is regarded as the most prestigious footballing derby in the entire country. The rivalry between the two clubs, like most of the rivalries listed above, can be traced back to social and cultural differences between the clubs. Panathinaikos was established in 1908 in the centre of Athens and represents the high class, while Olympiacos was established on the outskirts of Athens in 1925 and attracted working class people from nearby areas. The class differences brought bragging rights in the past, and when Olympiacos dominated the derbies in the early years the fans used the victories as a way to express their contempt and disliking to the higher classes. Almost every derby between the two clubs sees violent acts taking place, and in the past, there has been breaking seats, fighting, throwing flares and fireworks into opposition areas of the stadium, and street rioting pre and post match. There have been deaths of fans of the clubs committed by the opposition fans, such as the stabbing of young Panathinaikos fan Mihalis Filopoulos before a women’s volleyball game was due to take place between the two sides in 2007. There has been a total of 58 red cards in the match between the two rivals since 1959 and this is certainly a rivalry which will continue to be fiercely contested in coming seasons.

Honourable mentions:

Borrusia Dortmund vs Schalke 04 – Revierderby

Red Star Belgrade vs Partizan – Eternal Derby

Liverpool vs Manchester United

River Plate vs Boca Juniors – Superclasico

Club America vs Cruz Azul – The Clasico Joven




  1. Avatar
    Kieran says:

    Not sure how Liverpool United hasn’t made it in, would put that above United City all day long.
    The Milan Derby doesn’t get an mention either? That’s a huge one you seem to have overlooked.

    • Avatar
      Joe Bishop says:

      Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, I hadn’t checked my article since the day of publishing it as I usually don’t receive comments on my articles. I agree with you on the United/Liverpool one somewhat, however this article was published on the day of the Manchester derby so the hype sort of got to me, and with the Milan derby, while I agree it is a highly contested and ‘heated’ derby, I believe the 5 I listed, while they could be debated, are the fiercest derbies in world football nowadays.

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