Sports rivalries are one of those special elements that make us fall in love with a game, and it’s safe to say that no other sport comprises rivalries that are fiercer, have a longer history, or are as entertaining as soccer rivalries. These are the matches that every soccer fan anxiously awaits the whole season, and there’s no greater day than when your team faces its most bitter rivals.
Fan bases frequently dislike one another for a variety of reasons, including geographical proximity, historical social class, political differences, and even religion. Moreover, these clashes have provided us throughout the years with some of the craziest matches, the most electrifying atmospheres, and the best legacies in the history of world soccer.
Soccer has seen several rivalries emerge between teams over the course of its rich history, some of which date back more than a century. Countless managers and players have come and gone throughout that period, but the clubs have carried on, with their pride and heritage being passed down from generation to generation to keep these rivalries alive.
So, without further ado, here’s a brief look at some of the most bitter rivalries and the most prestigious soccer derbies.
El Clásico is the name given to the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, the two biggest clubs in Spain. Regarded as one of the biggest rivalries and most exciting derbies in world soccer, the clash between the Spanish giants is a game seen by millions of people all over the world, since both clubs have huge global fanbases.
This rivalry is also known to reflect opposing political ideas, with Real Madrid representing Spanish nationalism and the Crown, and Barcelona representing Catalan separatism.
The next match between the two clubs is scheduled to be held on March 20, at Santiago Bernabéu, and according to sportsbooks like Bet365 – which you can read more about in this page and even check the Bet365 bonus code for new users – Real Madrid is the odds-on favorite to win the derby.
Derby della Madonnina
Also known as Derby di Milano, this rivalry dates back to the first decade of the 20th century, when a disagreement over the signing of foreign players led to a split at AC Milan, giving birth to FC Internazionale. Over the following years, Inter gained a reputation as the club of the Milanese bourgeoisie, while Milan was supported mainly by the working class.
Both sides call San Siro stadium their home, as the Derby della Madonnina is one of the only major crosstown rivalries in world soccer that are always played in the same stadium. Their next clash is set to take place on April 20, for the second leg of Coppa Italia’s semi-finals.
The biggest soccer match in Argentina, and one of the most bitter rivalries in whole South America, the Superclásico is the soccer derby played between River Plate and Boca Juniors and is regarded as one of the most intense in world soccer. There is a socioeconomic split in the fan bases, since Boca Juniors has a reputation for having followers from the working class, whereas River Plate fans tend to be from the upper class.
The two teams even met in the Copa Libertadores final, in 2018, when the bus taking Boca’s players to El Monumental, River Plate’s stadium, for the second leg match was attacked by River supporters who flung stones after the police retreated from the zone. The game was suspended and moved to Madrid at Santiago Bernabéu, where River won the game 3-1 and lifted the trophy.
The Old Firm
One of the oldest rivalries in soccer, the Old Firm derby, which is contested by the two most successful clubs in Scotland, Celtic and Rangers, is undoubtedly the most intense and heated in the world. And it goes far deeper than just soccer, since political tensions frequently arise when these two sides meet.
Political and religious convictions are at the root of the conflict, as Rangers is a Protestant and Unionist team, whilst Celtic is Catholic and Republican. The Old Firm derby is also the toughest rivalry in international soccer, with some of the most violent incidents, and players seldom play for both sides.