17 of the biggest rivalries in world football, from Egypt to Paraguay
Every supporter around the world has at least one club which they consider a rival, but clubs as a whole often have one particular adversary which is bedded into their history.
Derby matches are a highlight of the season, with fans clamouring for bragging rights and praying they don’t have to see that smug face of an opposition supporter at work on Monday morning.
We’ve taken a look around the globe at some of football’s fiercest and most famous rivalries, with inspiration from the birth of El Trafico…
LA Galaxy vs LAFC
A new rivalry, but one that has become quite bitter before it has even begun. New club LAFC will take on the Galaxy in the first ever meeting between the pair over Easter weekend, the start of a brand new MLS derby.
The first-ever @LAGalaxy vs. @LAFC game is Saturday 3 pm ET on @FOXTV. This LA derby is being called "El Tráfico." @MLS says the fans came up with the name and the League has no plans to trademark it. #ElTrafico #LAvLAFC pic.twitter.com/KkJ5T5PRQd
— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) March 28, 2018
Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad
The Basque derby is more than just a local rivalry but a collective show of solidarity against the governance in Madrid – though Sociedad no longer select only Basque players, a policy which Bilbao famously maintain.
Lyon vs Saint-Etienne
The fiercest derby in French football spilled over in 2017, halted for 20 minutes following a pitch invasion when Nabil Fekir hit the fifth goal of Lyon’s rout before removing his shirt and holding it up to the home fans.
Riot police flooded on to the pitch and it looked like the game wouldn’t be finished, but the players returned to the field when most supporters had left to complete the match close to midnight.
November 5, 2017—Nabil Fekir celebrates goal, away at St. Etienne, taunting derby rivals.
February 25, 2018—Nabil Fekir tifo pre-game vs. St. Etienne, taunting derby rivals. pic.twitter.com/0ersYt0IR6
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 26, 2018
Cerro Porteno vs Olimpia
Nine out of ten Paraguayan football fans support one of these two clubs. Olimpia were the first club in the country and Porteno are believed to represent working-class values.
In 1969, Miguel Angel Sosa angered rival fans when he rounded Olimpia’s keeper and sat on the ball before rolling it into an open net.
Olympiakos vs Panathinaikos
This match is known as the derby of eternal enemies, which is really all you need to know to get a feel for what it’s like.
Away fans are not allowed to attend the fixture, and in 2012 the match was abandoned after Panathinaikos fans set fire to seats and the scoreboard.
Worked it out yet? Yep, it was in their own stadium.
Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke
Economic struggles in the 1970s heightened the intensity of this local derby, with frustrations permeating the football – and the forming of both clubs’ famous firms.
In 1997, the two clubs upset the odds to triumph in the UEFA Cup and the Champions League respectively.
In the final of the latter, Dortmund fans were split, with one half chanting about how their achievement bettered Schalke’s from a week earlier, whereas the other half opted for “Ruhr, Ruhr” to commend the success of the region as a whole.
AC Milan vs Inter Milan
This famous and bizarre rivalry isn’t the most violent or troublesome, but it is steeped in history, with the cross-city European giants competing for titles for over 100 years – and from the same stadium.
However, this may not be the case for much longer. After both clubs have watched Juventus reap the rewards of finally building their own ground, each have looked at options to move away, with attendances at the stadium dwindling no matter who is in action.
Boca Juniors vs River Plate
River Plate, or Los Millonarios as their ancient nickname goes, are known for their flair and guile, while Boca are basically known for being hard b*stards.
Childishness is embraced by fans and players alike, with incidents such as calling each other “smelly” and “chickens”.
Boca legend Juan Roman Riquelme once famously said: “When I wake up, I can’t put on anything red or white.”
It’s easy to incite trouble during the clashes, however, with Carlos Tevez once celebrating a goal with a chicken dance and being sent off for causing a riot in the stands.
Ajax vs Feyenoord
Two cultures clash once more in this behemoth of a fixture in Holland, with Ajax representing liberal Amsterdam and Feyenoord the more conservative Rotterdam.
With Dutch football dominating Europe in the 1970s, the rivalry grew and grew, with Johan Cruyff dominating the fixture at the end of his playing career for both sides.
In 1997, an Ajax hooligan was killed and others were seriously injured when opposing groups engaged in a violent brawl along a motorway.
Al Ahly vs Zamalek
The fixture between the two Egyptian powerhouses sees everything come together to create one huge rivalry, with politics, history and even the monarchy splitting the two clubs.
The two clubs represent royalism and nationalism, and the derby becomes a focal point for violent clashes between the two sides of the argument.
In 1966, one match had to be stopped after the army stormed the stadium and riots broke out – with the entire league not restarting properly for five years as a result.
Celtic vs Rangers
It seems a tad unfortunate that Rangers’ financial demise took what was once a great derby away from us, though the recent SPL clash between the two suggested the game could be back to its best.
Flamengo vs Fluminense
This hictoric rivalry began way back in 1912 when some Fluminense players had enough and added a football section to their rowing club, Flamengo.
194,603 people rocked up to the Maracana for a clash in 1964, setting a world-record attendance for a club fixture.
Sevilla vs Real Betis
The clash between these Adalucian rivals goes way back to their first meeting in 1915, when the match ebbed and flowed and at 4-3 was suspended due to intense riots between supporters.
Just watch COPA90’s brilliant video below. “El Clasico has nothing on what’s going on here.”
Marseille vs PSG
Often considered one of the largest rivalries in European club football is ‘Le Classique’, with two of France’s major forces possessing a severe hatred of one another.
The fixture is steeped in violence and anarchy, with multi-cultural Marseille often targeted by the radical, nationalist PSG supporters.
And, after a dominant few years thanks to PSG’s new ownership, Marseille have also been taken over with new owner Frank McCourt pledging to spend the money it will take to bring l’OM back to the big stage.
FC Seoul vs Suwon Bluewings
Rivalry between business giants LG and Samsung is at the root of the “super match” in K-League, and small digs such as each club in 2006 listing the opposing player’s names in miniscule print on their scoreboard.
Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray
Whacking a Galatasaray flag in the centre circle at the ground of fierce rivals Fenerbahce – just after leading your side to an away win there – isn’t the smartest thing Graeme Souness has ever done, but it is one of the most ionic.
What must be the only intercontinental local derby in the world sees fans clash on the regular.
When Haim Revivo left Fener for their rivals in 2003, during a stint in hospital fans gathered outside holding banners labelling him a traitor. He didn’t stick around.
When Graeme Souness nearly started a war by planting a Galatasaray flag in Fenerbache's centre circle…😱 pic.twitter.com/psNvPwP7HR
— SBO (@SBOnet_) November 19, 2017
Barcelona vs Real Madrid
“Catalunya is a country and FC Barcelona is their army,” Sir Bobby Robson once said, and the Catalan angst against the Spanish rule in Madrid is just the beginning of a rivalry which sees two of Europe’s ultimate elite collide.
And while politics is coming back to the fore with independence on the lips of everyone in the Catalan region, the last 20 years have seen football overtake the politics in what matters more, with La Liga titles and Champions League trophies being at stake simply down to this derby match. It doesn’t get much bigger than that.