It takes rivalries to make football fun and that is why football is the most popular sport in Europe and all over the world by extension. Every arsenal fan hopes that Tottenham will lose their next game as does every Barcelona fan for Real Madrid. While fans have very little to do with what their teams do on the pitch, they always express their feelings and that often gets violent whether it is physical or verbal. While measures have been taken to tame emotions in football over the years, football still needs the emotions to survive at the top and that is why these 10 rivalries are the fiercest in Europe.
Real Madrid VS. Barcelona
The roots that keep this rivalry alive are way deeper than just football. Madrid represents the heart of Spanish nationalism that has seen the monarchy survive and the other cities often feel oppressed. Barcelona, the second-largest city in Spain is at the heart of Catalan pride with many people feeling that they are oppressed by the Spanish government. Barcelona and Real Madrid are also the biggest football clubs in Spain with each fighting to maintain their place as the real kings of Spanish football. Now, while Real Madrid has the better historical record in terms of trophies won, the El Clasico remains the fiercest rivalry in European football. Each team puts up their biggest fight of the season in spite of their current form.
Manchester City VS. Liverpool
This is a new rivalry that is becoming bigger than what Real Madrid and Barcelona have. For the last four years, pundits have ranked the two teams as the best in the world. Now, while Manchester City doesn’t have the history of competing with Liverpool, their recent duels have been epic. The two which are currently regarded the best teams in English football fight it out in one of the most epic matches in the world. With each team having a very potent squad and coach and all of them fighting for each trophy including local trophies fiercely, Manchester City VS. Liverpool has become the new English version of El Clasico.
Inter Milan VS. AC Milan
Juventus have won 36 Serie A trophies so far and remains the best club in Italian top-flight football but no Juventus game could be as fierce as any Milan derby. AC and Inter are seen as the traditional sweat and skill over-money football clubs which don’t rely on big-money investors to produce great football. With both clubs having nearly similar victory records as well as coming from the same city, their rivalry is totally justified. The clubs always fight for victory to go to their side of the city and the fans do the same even if it means going at it physically.
Arsenal VS. Tottenham Hotspurs
Arsenal moved their stadium from Highbury to the Emirates thus encroaching into Tottenham Hotspurs’ hometown of North London. The North London Derby has since become the fiercest rivalry in English football eclipsing Liverpool VS. Everton. Arsenal has more trophies and a better historical performance record but Tottenham has made their improvements over the years. When going into the North London Derby, everyone suits up for war and even the club with the weakest squad puts up the fight of the season because each club’s future literally depends on these matches. The two rarely win major trophies anymore with huge fan bases to secure, small victories like the derby are important.
Athletic Bilbao VS. Real Sociedad
While a match between these two teams is about bragging rights nowadays, it historically meant total anarchy in the streets. The two clubs come from the same region of Spain’s Basque Country and being the biggest clubs from the region, bragging rights are vital. The derby is usually sold out long before any of the clubs’ other matches and security in the streets has to be beefed up every match day.
Atletico Madrid VS. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid is often viewed as the underdog to Barcelona and Real Madrid but that sentiment only exists when the Madrid Derby is not in the picture. Their rivalry is just as fierce as the North London Derby with altercations in the streets being unavoidable on every match day. Atletico Madrid is the underdog that won’t go down without a fight as they always give the bigger club a contest of a lifetime with the fan base doing everything to ensure their side of Madrid has the victory; even if it means hurling a few dangerous projectiles.
Real Madrid VS. Liverpool
Spanish clubs have dominated European football for longer than English clubs but Liverpool is the one team that no Spanish Club wants to go against. At their best, Liverpool surprises every Spanish team they meet on the pitch and it often ends in punches and insults in the streets as well as shoves on the pitch. Liverpool is the all-time most successful English club in Europe and their fiercest rival is Real Madrid whom they always seem to meet when egos and tempers are at their hottest.
Paris Saint-Germain VS. Marseille
Paris and Marseille are the two largest cities in France and “Le Classique” which is the match between the two biggest clubs from both cities is a whole national event. Oil money has meant that PSG can invest in a better squad including the best players in the world but that never makes their matches against Marseille easy. It is a hotly contested derby just like Real Madrid VS. Barcelona.
Liverpool VS. Manchester United
In the years past, altercations between Manchester United and Liverpool fans were unavoidable on any match day. The two clubs are the biggest in English football and their war for dominance has created a forever rivalry. While the Red Devils aren’t what they used to be in recent years, their match against The Reds is always a spectacle to behold for all the fans.
Partizan Belgrade VS. Red Star Belgrade
This is another rivalry that keeps security forces on their toes as the slightest insult might trigger a city-wide anarchy. The two clubs have a historical rivalry against each other as they all try to dominate Serbian football. The pitch often has to be manned with officers separating the fans to prevent altercations from escalating in the stadium.
Do you follow any of these teams? Do you know of any other European rivalries that we should have mentioned? Do let us know in the comments below!