Among the oldest and most bitterly contested derbies in world soccer, Manchester United and Manchester City lock horns on Sunday for the 166th time, an on-field argument dating back to 1881. This is the first such contest with David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini in charge of the sides
As the 11 a.m. ET match at the Etihad Stadium approaches, crucial for on each side of Manchester, red and sky blue, both because of the two teams’ English Premier League title ambitions and close proximity instilling intense dislike between supporters, we take a look at five of the most-heated rivalries the sport has to offer at club level, perhaps kicking off a bit of a heated debate ourselves.
The two Manchester teams have finished 1st and 2nd in the EPL standings the last two seasons. The Sky Blues beat the Red Devils in the final minutes of the final day in 2011-12 before the men from Old Trafford claimed their 20th league title last season in dominant fashion.
There’s plenty of bad blood on both sides, legs have been broken, tackles made with intent to injure, teams mocked, players hit with coins from the stands. All of it, though, shouldn’t overshadow the fact that when these two English elites take the field together, a cracking game of soccer ensures.
The Old Firm is a rivalry boiling with emotion. Kings of the Scottish game both hailing from Glasgow, Rangers and Celtic have engaged in battle on 399 occasions. This one is made great because of the success of the teams, their location and the fact that it extends beyond sport and into religion and politics. Rangers is supported by Protestant natives of Scotland, while Celtic is backed by Irish-Scots who are Roman Catholic. As you can imagine, they tend not to get along so well.
Boca Juniors v River Plate “Superclásico”Perhaps no contest in the world rivals the palpable passion found in Argentina’s El Superclásico. Based in Buenos Aires, Boca Juniors and River Plate are by far the two most popular and successful teams in the country. Almost 75 percent of soccer fans in the country support one of the two clubs. Boca represents the working class while River is known as Los Millonarios, “The Millionares.” Fans jump, dance and chant things that we can’t print here, stands rattle and rumble, the field littered with confetti every time the two clubs take the field.
The Derby della Madonninia, named for the Virgin Mary Statue of Milan is played between two historic Italian teams who share not only a city but a stadium: The San Siro. It’s a true recipe for a fervent rivalry. AC Milan, though they were red and black, represents blue collar Italians. Inter identifies more with wealthy fans, often dividing friends and families.
Fenerbahce v GalatasarayThis is another case of the two best teams in a country sharing close quarters. In this case, Instanbul, Turkey is the site of a rancorous rivalry between Fenerbahce and Galatasary. The rivalry is electrified as the two clubs hail from opposite sides of the Bosphorous strait that divides Europe, home to Fenerbache, and Asia, home to Galatasaray. The hatred extends off the field including every sort of riot you can imagine. These teams don’t like each other, but we sure like watching them duke it out on the field.
Also among the greatest derbies:
– Liverpool v Everton “Merseyside Derby”
– Chivas v Club America “El Súper Clásico”
– Barcelona v Real Madrid “El Clásico”
– Juventus v Inter “Derby d’Italia”
– Arsenal v Tottenham “North London Derby”
– Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates “The Soweto Derby”
– Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund “Der Klassiker”
– Borussia Dortmund v Schalke “The Revierderby”
– Olympiacos v Panathinaikos “Derby of the eternal enemies”
– Ajax v Feyenoord “De Klassieker”
– Benfica v Porto “O Clássico”
– Marseille v Paris Saint-Germain “Le Classique”
– Roma v Lazio “Derby della Capitale”
– Fluminense v Flamengo “Fla–Flu”
– Red Star Belgrade v Partizan Belgrade “Eternal derby”
Derbies take place across the world, in every corner where the game is played. They create a passion and intensity unique to soccer. This list is by no means exhaustive and surely we’ve left out a few of your favorite match ups. What are we missing? What’s the world’s best derby? Have your say in the comments section below.