Top 12 biggest football rivalries

You probably know the saying “you always hate your neighbors”, well it’s true. Whether it’s because they knock on your door every Saturday night to ask you for a corkscrew, or simply because we’re rivals with our neighbors as we can be with a brother or a sister, we can clearly see in football that neighboring countries (or cities) often hate each other.

Here are some examples of teams that would rather sell their mother than see their rivals win.

1. Brazil and Argentina

We know that Brazilians and Argentines can’t get along (at least in terms of football).

When in 2014 Argentina were in the World Cup final in Brazil, the Brazilians were in tears and literally prayed that Messi and his people would lose to the Germans. These same Germans who had nevertheless inflicted the famous 7-1 on them, at home, only a few days before. This shows how great the rivalry between the two countries is (even if Messi and Neymar seem to be good friends).

2. Brazil and Uruguay

You will think that Brazil is the rival of all the countries in South America, and it’s not totally wrong, but above all, there is also Uruguay. The story goes back a bit, it goes back to the first World Cup organized in Brazil, that of 1950.

The Brazilians remember this World Cup as a national drama, as they lost the final in a packed Maracana against Uruguay. The Brazilians have never recovered, some even think they are cursed: the curse of always losing at home, not easy.

3. Germany and the Netherlands

This hatred disappeared over time, the Dutch and the Germans calmed down a bit. At the same time, they come back from afar, there was a time when the Netherlands vs Germany matches totally looked like horse butchery. And this rivalry has a political and not really sporting origin, it actually dates back to the Second World War, when the Dutch were occupied by Nazi Germany. This hatred took a long time to disappear because in the 70s to 90s, it felt good on the football fields. In 1970 in a match between Ajax Amsterdam and Bayern Munich, which the Dutch lost 1-0, midfielder Wim van Hanegem said in tears in an interview: “I didn’t really care about the score, 1 -0 was enough as long as we could humiliate them. I hate them. They murdered my family. My father, my brother and several family members. I was anxious every time I faced Germany. “Not a very good atmosphere, fortunately 30 years later tensions have largely subsided between the two nations.

4. Boca Juniors et Rivers Plate

We are talking here about the Argentinian Superclasico, surely one of the most tense matches we know. Boca and River are two clubs from the same city, Buenos Aires, but also from the same district, the Boca district, which means that the territorial rivalry between the two clubs will very quickly arise. It was on August 24, 1913 that the two teams met for the first time. During the meeting, the rivalries are felt and will quickly go beyond the frame of the field. Some time later, the River Plate club left the Boca district to settle in Nunez. The district of Nunez being a richer district than Boca, the players will be considered as “millionarios” (millionaires) and this will further widen the difference with the players of Boca Juniors, becoming the symbol of the working classes, and thus fueling the rivalry between the two clubs. This meeting therefore quickly becomes a clash of classes with issues beyond the sporting framework. The first professional Superclasico took place in 1931, and a brawl broke out between the players after three River Plate players were sent off for disputing an opponent’s goal. The match is stopped in the middle, and of course, there were then fights between the supporters who were violently dispersed with tear gas

The tension between the clubs is therefore already well established, when in 1968 River Plate receives Boca Juniors. Visiting supporters were placed in a specific stand in the stadium and had to descend around 100 steps to reach the door which led outside. Nevertheless this door is closed which causes crowd movements. 150 supporters are injured and nearly 70 supporters die in this tragic episode. Obviously, this will only increase the hatred already present, of the supporters of Boca towards those of River Plate. Since the rivalry between the clubs is one of the biggest in the world, if not the biggest.

5. Celtic Glasgow vs Glasgow Rangers

The Old Firm game, as the derby between the two teams is called, dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. of the Ranger, of Protestant affiliation. Celtic Glasgow was created by Irish migrants (fleeing the famine) in 1887. Unlike the Rangers who are close to the Protestant community of the city, the Celtics are close to the Irish Catholic community. In addition, the Scots are mostly loyal to the English crown, while the Irish are rather hostile to the kingdom.

The rivalry was therefore born of this difference, and was accentuated by several milestones, in particular the arrival of Polish goalkeeper Arthur Boruc at Celtic Glasgow in 2005. He quickly fueled a real rivalry with Rangers, signing for example a Catholic cross in front of Rangers fans (in 2006). In short, you will understand, the two clubs have not finished hating each other.

6. OL and St-Etienne

This rivalry is as old as Herod, it is perhaps one of the oldest among French clubs. The hatred between Lyon and St-Etienne dates back more than 70 years and the derbies are still just as crazy. And once again it is a question of political and/or sociological rivalries which then manifested themselves in football. We have on the one hand Lyon the bourgeois which developed in the end of the 19th century in an exponential way and towards trades more and more distant from industry, facing St-Etienne the proletarian, more anchored in a belonging factory Girl. But despite the economic differences, on the football level, for many years, it was St-Etienne that dominated, both nationally and in Europe. Former Stéphanois president Roger Rocher (president from 1961 to 1982) had even dared to declare “In football, Lyon has always been the suburb of Saint-Etienne”. Today the trend has gradually reversed, but the tension still exists.

7. OM and PSG

The rivalry between OM and PSG is less historic than that between OL and St-Etienne. It’s more of a simple first and second story given that Paris is the capital and OM the second city of France. It’s also a question of “culture”, you will notice Parisians are little appreciated in the rest of France because they are criticized for being condescending, inevitably it is also felt in football. And in recent years, the rivalry has been exacerbated with the rise of PSG. Historically, OM dominated PSG in terms of record, and they can always boast of having a Champions League lead. Nevertheless for the last 10 years (since Qatar what), Paris dominates the championship and it is the only French team which has a potential chance of being crowned at European level, even if they take great care to systematically spoil it every year.

8. Barça and Real

The classic of classics: Barça and Real. The rivalry between the two clubs is much older than you might think, and for once, its origins are purely sporting (obviously things get complicated later). It all started in 1916 in the semi-final of the Coupe du Roi (equivalent to the Coupe de France), the two teams met and the matches (go and return) aroused strong criticism concerning the refereeing which would have whistled several unjustified penalties in favor Real players. Added to all this is a historical part: in the 1930s Franco came to power in Spain and divided the country between the nationalists (those led by Franco) and the republicans, including the Catalans. In 1936 the president of Barça was shot by Franco’s troops because he was accused of being an opponent of the regime. All this will fuel Catalan nationalist sentiment and stir up hatred towards the capital club, a symbol of the power in place.

Obviously all these stories are far from us today, but the hatred between the two clubs has never disappeared, even if it of course has become purely sporting rather than political.

9. Fenerbahce and Galatasaray

Here we are perfectly in the model poor against rich. The two clubs in the city of Istanbul have a historic rivalry, Galatasaray is one, if not the, biggest club in Turkey, it was founded by the elite of the city, when the second is rather of popular origin.

The rich against the poor, a classic, and we can see even through football that it is the rich who win.

10. Poland and Germany

Exactly in the same spirit as the Netherlands the Poles had a deep seum against the Germans because of the Nazi occupation, one can understand. This hatred was felt for many years afterwards in football, which created fierce derbies between the two teams. The small problem for the Poles is that even if they had very good players in their ranks, they never claimed to be at the level of the Germans, which always created somewhat unbalanced derbies.

Ah and of course, the Poles have a similar rivalry towards the Russians, we understand quite well why too.

11. Stade Rennais and FC Nantes

A classic story between enemy brothers, the two neighboring clubs cannot hate each other just because they are part of the same geographical area. Who will eat the most salted butter? The rivalry was based on that…

12. Finally, Serbia and Croatia

And there, it is purely a question of political tensions which are transcribed in football and which give rise to crazy matches where the supporters clearly slap each other in the face. This rivalry stems of course from a hyper-complex historical context that dates back to the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Indeed, the Serbs had received social benefits that the Croats did not have, because the latter were less “invested” in the fight against the Ottomans. Then in the Second World War, to make it short, Croatia had very little independence in the Yugoslav regime, which favored the appearance of often fascist Croatian separatist movements (such as the Croatian Right Party), and brought to the extermination and/or persecution of the Serbian people or of Serbian descent still present in Croatia. The Jasenovac concentration camp, created to exterminate the Serb people of Croatia, is the only camp that was not built and run by the Nazis.

This heritage between the two peoples is also reflected in sport, where each meeting (even today) creates enormous enthusiasm and above all strong tensions between the teams, not a very good atmosphere.

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