When two different soccer clubs play out of the same city, there’s a natural rivalry created due to geography. However, these rivalries are often intensified by factors such as culture, politics, religion and even the old class system. When two teams get together in city derbies the games are often tense and dramatic as they play for bragging rights of the local population.
Below we have listed the 10 most-intense city derbies in Europe today. These teams take no prisoners when they square off against each other and the fighting attitude sometimes spills over into the stands and the streets. In general, supporters of rival clubs in the same city don’t get along with each other and this just adds to the fierceness of these derbies.
10. Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid
The Madrid Derby features Spanish giants and star-studded Real Madrid against hard-working neighbors Atletico Madrid. While Atletico has been quite competitive over the past few years, Real Madrid is undoubtedly one of the best clubs on the planet and has the domestic and European trophies to prove it. This includes a pair of recent Champions League final wins over Atletico. Winning comes naturally to Real while Atletico has to work their socks off for any glimpse of glory. However, when these two teams get together, hard work sometimes overcomes natural talent. But, let’s face it, Real is associated with everything that’s glamorous about Madrid while Atletico is viewed as a working-person’s club from the south side of the city. Most passionate Atletico fans wouldn’t have it any other way though and are definitely proud of their club’s roots. They wouldn’t argue with adding a few more trophies to their cabinet though.
9. Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
One of England’s oldest and best rivalries is the North London Derby between Arsenal and their neighbors Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal has been the more successful club both domestically and internationally over the years, but Tottenham has been the better team over the past couple of seasons and that doesn’t sit too well with Arsenal supporters. The hostility between the teams’ fans has grown over the past few decades and while there’s verbal abuse and a few fistfights before and after games, it’s a relatively civil rivalry compared to some others. Arsenal supporters like nothing more than to celebrate Tottenham defeats at the hands of anybody during the season and vice versa. Gunners’ fans usually regard the team’s season a relative success as long as they finish above Tottenham in the Premier League standings.
8. Manchester United vs Manchester City
The Manchester Derby has basically been renewed over the past decade or so as Manchester City now has the financial backing to field a strong side. This rivalry cooled off in the past as City sometimes found themselves playing in a lower division of English football. Things have heated up though with Man City arguably having a stronger squad these days than cross-town rivals Manchester United. There’s no doubt Man United has been the more successful team throughout history and the rivalry has been renewed since both sides are good enough to challenge for the same domestic and European trophies. The two teams first met in 1881 and up until mid-August of 2017 had squared off 174 times. The results have been relatively close with United winning 72 times, losing 50 and drawing the other 52.
7. Everton vs Liverpool
The famous Merseyside Derby takes place in Liverpool, home of the River Mersey, between Liverpool FC and Everton. Liverpool plays out of Anfield Stadium while Everton plays at nearby Goodison Park. The two teams both played at Anfield until 1892 when Everton moved just over a mile down the road to their new ground. This can be a fiercely-contested derby on the pitch, with red cards sometimes being a common occurrence. But off the pitch most Everton and Liverpool fans live in harmony much of the time. In fact, you’ll often find family members split when it comes to their allegiance of the blue or red side of the city. Witty banter and barbs are typically the choice of weapons between the two sets of supporters rather than fisticuffs. Liverpool has certainly been the more successful of the two teams at home and in Europe and in some odd way Everton is seen by many as being Liverpool’s younger brother.
6. AC Milan vs Inter Milan
Not only do AC Milan and Inter Milan play out of the same Italian city, but the clubs also play out of the same stadium. The two sides have both been relatively successful throughout their histories, but have also had their prolonged periods of ups and downs. Inter Milan was formed back in 1908 with the club’s roots being traced to the Milan Cricket and Football Club. After the two sides split up, AC Milan went through a 43-year drought before winning the Italian league while Inter won the title five times in the same period. A derby game in Milan features colorful flares, numerous banners, singing, chanting and taunting, and excitement on the field. Of course, supporters of both clubs love to celebrate the successes of their team and revel in the miserable times of their rivals.
5. Roma vs Lazio
The Derby Della Capitale is contested over in Italy’s capital city of Rome between Roma and Lazio. The two teams also share the same stadium, the Stadio Olimpico. However, both of them are hoping to build their own grounds in the next year or two. If both clubs leave, Stadio Olimpico may become the home of the Italian national team. Roma and Lazio matches often feature racism, smoke bombs, flares, and fighting between the fans as well as profane banners, rioting and even death. Lazio was formed in the Prati neighborhood of Rome while Roma was founded 27 years later in nearby Parioli. The city is divided between Roma and Lazio supporters and fans sure don’t want to find themselves sitting in the wrong side of the stadium.
4. Fenerbahce v Galatasaray
Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are the two biggest teams in Istanbul, Turkey and they have quite a rivalry going. Fenerbahce is located in the Asian sector of the city while Galatasaray is considered to be more European. Fenerbahce is seen a working-class club while Galatasaray is regarded as more bourgeois when the roots were laid in the city formerly known as Constantinople. Galatasaray was formed first back in 1905 with Fenerbahce being introduced to fans two years later. The clubs seemed to get along peacefully until 1934 when violence reared its ugly head both on and off the pitch. The two teams and their fans still antagonize each other today as the feud goes on. Attending a game isn’t always the prettiest of sights as it can involve incidents of racism and physical violence.
3. Partizan Belgrade vs Red Star Belgrade
The biggest derby in Serbia is undoubtedly the Belgrade derby, which is also known as the Eternal Derby. The two fierce rivals here are Partizan Belgrade and Red Star Belgrade. These clubs also face each other in other sports such as handball and basketball, but the football rivalry is certainly the most intense and isn’t for the faint of heart. Both of the clubs were formed close to the end of World War II in 1945 by different political groups in the former communist nation of Yugoslavia. However, the first game between the two sides didn’t take place until two years later. Partizan and Red Star Belgrade are generally regarded as the top two teams in the domestic league as well as being the most popular. This derby has attracted over 100,000 fans in the past and it can get quite nasty between the players and the fans.
2. Olympiakos v Panathinaikos
The biggest football battle over in Greece is between the nation’s two most successful teams, Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. These two clubs have been going at it for over a century now. Olympiakos comes from the port area of Piraeus in Athens while Panathinaikos is situated in a more upscale area of the city. Unfortunately, violence between the two side’s fans is quite common. On the pitch, Olympiakos has won more domestic league titles, but Panathinaikos is the only Greek squad to have made it to the final of the European Cup. The domestic success of Olympiakos obviously doesn’t sit well with their rival fans and that just inflames the hatred between them. Panathinaikos has been deducted points in the past due to violent behavior and the derby has also been played behind closed doors due to fan trouble.
1. Rangers vs Celtic
One of the fiercest rivalries you’ll see in Europe and anywhere in the world for that matter is the Old Firm Derby between Rangers and Celtic in Glasgow, Scotland. Fans are basically born into this rivalry as Protestants are expected to support Rangers and Catholics support Celtic. The hatred between fans can often extend to all aspects of life instead of just at the football ground. The hostility on the pitch and off of it is very intense, but the two teams haven’t faced each other as often as usual over the past few years as Rangers were climbing up the lower divisions back to the Scottish Premier League. Unfortunately, meetings between the old firm teams can typically lead to violence before, during and after games, and it spreads to the streets far too often. The games themselves are filled with drama and tension with the players on both sides giving no quarter.