As a fan of a football club, nothing can match the feeling of beating your greatest rival club in the country. Some rivalries in football have a historical or political subtext while a few are due to the two richest clubs fighting for supremacy in a league. The best example is Barcelona and Real Madrid who are two financial powerhouses and fierce rivals. In this article, we will look at five rivalries in club football that creates excitement even among the general public.
#5 Celtic vs Rangers
Celtic and Rangers, together called as the ‘Old Firm’ of Scottish football, first met in the year 1890. They have played 423 games until 2021 and the Rangers have a narrow lead with 164 victories. The loyal supporters of the two clubs have a divided political and cultural opinion.
Rangers headed by Steven Gerrard are the current league champions. They regained their title after a nine-year hiatus and have won 55 league titles in total. Ally McCoist leads the goalscoring charts in clashes between Rangers and Celtic with 27 goals.
#4 Boca Juniors vs River Plate
When it comes to fan unrest and violent clashes, no game can match the clash between Boca Juniors and River Plate. The two Argentinian clubs have been fierce rivals for a long time, but this century has seen quite a few controversies.
The 2018 Copa Libertadores final gained a lot of attention since it was played in Madrid due to security fear in Buenos Aires. River famously won the clash with a 3-1 victory, despite losing their home advantage. Boca Juniors have won 34 league titles while River Plate 36 titles to their name. The league format is set to change from July 2021 with 26 teams competing for the title.
#3 Inter Milan vs AC Milan
Before Juventus’ dominance, Milan derby often decided the winner of the league. In the ’90s and the first decade of the twenty-first century, both the clubs had several world-class players and was one of the most-watched games in the world.
After a period where the derby lost its hype, the game received renewed attention in 2021 with Milan sitting at the top and Inter in the second position. The derby is also known for colourful artwork and brilliantly designed banners by fans.
#2 Manchester United vs Liverpool
For nearly 30 years now, the outcome of this clash has rarely affected the league position or title race. However, it still continues to be the biggest game in English football due to two of the widest and most loyal fanbase in the world.
United have won a record 20 league titles while Liverpool are close behind with 19. However, Liverpool’s European success gives them a slight edge in the rivalry. The games have cooled off in recent times with rivalry between Manchester City and Liverpool getting increased recognition. Manchester United won the last meeting between the clubs with Bruno Fernandes scoring a brilliant free-kick.
#1 Real Madrid vs Barcelona
El Clásico is by far the most-watched standalone game in league football. The world’s best players have been omnipresent at the two clubs and their personal rivalry has also played a part in generating hype. The expectations surrounding the game were unreal when Messi and Ronaldo were in their prime.
Real Madrid have won the last three encounters against their Catalan rivals. Lionel Messi tops the goalscoring and assists charts in El Clásico while Sergio Ramos and Messi share the most appearances record. Ever since Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus in 2018, the games have been largely boring as both sides are in a rebuilding phase.