A special piece : What are the 10 biggest derbies of European football?


Derbies are the days that make the supporters bite their nails. The passion, enthusiasm and tension of a derby raises the blood pressure from the faithfuls to the managements. Being the abode of the best club football arena, European clubs consist some of the biggest derbies of the world. There is no love lost between the clubs, and the supporters pray for a win against their biggest rivals.

Today we shall contemplate 10 of the biggest rivalries of European club football.

10. Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke: 

These two German sides have no love lost for a long years now. Schalke were the dominant club in the Ruhr region in the early years, but slowly Borussia Dortmund catched up and won the Westphalia Championship in 1947, that started the rivalry. Both were locals’ club and the dispute between the miners of Gelsenkirchen and the brewers of Dortmund intensified the rivalry even more.

9. Internazionale vs AC Milan:

They are the clubs that are located in the same city and even use the same stadium. This fierce rivalry is one that has been constantly renewed over the past century by the waxing and waning of each club’s fortunes in regard to the other. Inter, traditionally the club of the Milanese bourgeoisie, was formed in 1908 by breaking away from the Milan Cricket and Football Club over a dispute concerning the recruitment of foreign players. The intensity and the tension is same although both the clubs are no longer the giants of the Serie A for the past few seasons, but there were a time when both these Milan giants dominated the European football.

8. AS Roma vs Lazio:

The derby of Italian capital Rome is also known as Derby della capitale. They also play in a shared stadium and for the past years this tie is notorious for several wrong reasons; racial abuse, fights, riots and even deaths to be precise. It all started due to a geographical dispute between two parts of Rome, Prati and Parioli, which are the places from where Lazio and Roma were established respectively. Both the clubs have some passionate and to be honest troublesome supporters who continue to loathe each others wherever they meet.

7. Ajax vs Feyenoord:

Another rivalry of two different cities, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, this derby is known as Die Klassikier and the hostile atmosphere in the game speaks of its intensity. Feyenoord supporters’ rough and hard working mentality clashes with that of their Ajax counterparts who are more namby-pamby. The raucous Rotterdam people generally create the derby atmosphere. Ajax dwarf their rivals in terms of league titles but still the intensity of this derby is huge.

6. Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur:

Famously known as North London Derby, this is a centenary long rivalry that created since Arsenal moved to the north of the river Thames. Spurs supporters couldn’t take it and from then on the rivalry is bitter. Also Arsenal won the league at Spurs’ home twice and that has made the white part of North London more furious. The tide though has turned in the Gunners’ favour as Tottenham have finished below Arsenal in the league for 21 straight years. Still the animosity of this derby is unbelievable and both sets of supporters have the worst of relations.

5. Fenerbahce v Galatasaray:

Class more than culture or geography played a greater part in ramping up the animosity in Istanbul’s intercontinental derby between Fener in Asia and Gala in Europe. The former, traditionally the club of the working class, were founded in 1907, while in 1905 the club Galatasaray were formed and was still then Constantinople. Tension first turned to violence in 1934 with the players joining the fans in fights and the 81 years since have been marred by antagonism, assaults, racism and murder. The atmosphere in this match still is violent and both sets of fans do involve in actions that often exceeds to disastrous conditions.

4. Manchester United v Liverpool:

Two Lancashire based cities Liverpool and Manchester have been the home of two greatest clubs in England. Liverpool were the dominant team in the 1970s and the fierce Kops got the better of their Red Devils counterparts both off and on the field. Then came a certain Alex Ferguson and the roles reversed, which added more animosity and enhanced the bitterness. The derbies between these two teams often involve controversy, fights. Both clubs are with rich history of their own and their tough mentality resonates even in the stands.

3. Olympiakos v Panathinaikos

The ‘Mother of All Battles’ between Greece’s two most successful clubs, is another that began a century ago between a team from the capital’s port – Olympiakos in Piraeus – and another from the more affluent centre, Panathinaikos. Violence is regular when the two meet, Olympiakos boasting of their superior number of titles.  Olympiakos have won 16 of the past 18 domestic championships compared to Panathinaikos’s two and it has only inflamed derby day. The behaviour of supporters often results locked door matches but still the violence, abuse and antisocial activities take place repeatedly in this derby.

2. Celtic vs Rangers:

‘You could take all the derby matches in the world and put them together and they still wouldn’t equal one-millionth of the Old Firm,’ said Paolo Di Canio.

That speaks of the volume of the Glasgow derby between Celtic and Rangers. It started from the dispute in the division of the city and the difference in religious views of Protestant Celtic supporters and Catholic Rangers fans ignited the flame. The game has involved hostile atmospheres where two sets of passionate people collided and the intensity and tension still prevail. Recent relegation of Rangers subdued the intensity but you can expect the knife cutting tension will be there when the two clubs lock horn again.

1. Real Madrid vs Barcelona:

In terms of history, class, quality and identity- this derby topples all the derbies of Europe. The ‘El Clasico’ is between two forces of world football. The rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid reached new heights when Barcelona fans threw pig’s head to Luis Figo. The violence is not that often as both sets of supporters have mutual respect for each other. The atmosphere remains electric and the elite display of football undoubtedly makes this tie the pinnacle of all football rivalries.


Which one of the above derbies do you like the most?

Photo by jikatu