Fiercest Football Derbies Around The Globe

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Passionate rivalries have fueled some of the greatest matches in football history. When two bitter rivals face off, emotions run high as fans’ pride and local traditions are on the line. This is especially true in football, where devoted supporters treat derby matches as all-out war.

Heavy anticipation surrounds these explosive contests, with sportsbooks often seeing a spike in wagers. Let’s explore some of the biggest football derbies that never fail to captivate viewers across the globe.

North West Derby: Liverpool vs Manchester United

The North West Derby in England, contested between Liverpool and Manchester United, is arguably the most popular football rivalry in the world. These legendary clubs first squared off in 1894, and tensions have escalated ever since.

With a combined 137 major trophies, Liverpool and Manchester United dominate English football. Fierce competition between both sets of supporters frequently boils over into physical violence and verbal abuse. In the past, players have even fueled the hostility by publicly taunting their opponents.

Why the Rivalry Runs So Deep

As the two most decorated clubs in English football located just 35 miles apart, Liverpool and Manchester United have battled for supremacy for over a century. Their partisan fans’ willingness to go to extremes underscores the cultural importance this derby holds.

North London Derby: Arsenal vs Tottenham

Although London hosts numerous football clubs, the North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur earns the title as the city’s most heated matchup.

Initially, these sides maintained a friendly rivalry. But after Arsenal moved from South to North London in 1913, encroaching on Tottenham’s turf, tensions escalated dramatically. They have now faced off 166 times in competitive play.

Fiercest Football Derbies Around The Globe

Over 13 league championships, Arsenal has clearly held the upper hand. However, Tottenham has begun closing the gap in recent seasons, adding intensity to the derby.

Recent Thrilling Contests

The 2020-21 season provided two instant derby classics. In the first match, Arsenal roared back from 2-0 down in the final 10 minutes to salvage a draw. The return fixture saw Tottenham lead 2-1 in the dying moments before Arsenal equalized from the penalty spot. Games of such drama only raise the stakes for the next encounter.


Total Wins

League Titles







Derby Della Madonnina: Inter Milan vs AC Milan

In Italy, no footballing rivalry compares to the prestigious Derby Della Madonnina between Inter Milan (Internazionale) and city rivals AC Milan. As co-tenants of the iconic San Siro stadium, these two fashion the perfect derby.

In the early days, Inter attracted wealthier backers, while working-class Milanese tended to support AC Milan. Although that division has faded over time, the city still buzzes with excitement whenever these bitter foes collide.

Derby Della Madonnina translates to "Derby of the Little Madonna", referring to the cherished statue atop Milan’s cathedral. Across 273 all-time derby clashes, AC Milan narrowly leads the head-to-head 106 wins to 96.

Dominating Italian Football

Despite Juventus claiming more Serie A titles, Inter and AC Milan have utterly dominated Italian football over the last 30 years. The two clubs have combined to win 19 of the last 29 Scudettos since 1992.


Total Wins

Serie A Titles

Inter Milan



AC Milan



Fiercest Football Derbies Around The Globe

Derby Della Capitale: Roma vs Lazio

No football match in Rome incites more passion than the explosive Derby Della Capitale between the city’s biggest clubs, Roma and Lazio. This ferocious rivalry originated in 1927 when Lazio refused to be amalgamated into AS Roma by the ruling fascist regime.

On derby day, Roma’s ultras battle Lazio’s hardcore Irriducibili fans for supremacy in the streets and stands. The fixtures have been marred by incidents of racist chanting, violence, and displays of fascist imagery.

While these sides cannot compete for honors with Italian football’s elite, their impassioned supporters ensure the Derby Della Capitale retains a special prestige. In yet another tight rivalry, Roma edges their capital rivals in total derby wins 63 to 60.

Intercontinental Derby: Fenerbahçe vs Galatasaray

Based on opposite banks of the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray constitute Turkey’s biggest football rivalry. Matches between these Istanbul giants regularly produce deafening noise levels from frenzied home crowds.

In 2011, the Turk Telekom Arena recorded decibel peaks of 141 dB during a fiery derby, placing it among Europe’s loudest stadiums. Both sides harbor realistic aspirations of conquering Europe someday soon.

As Turkey’s most decorated clubs, Fenerbahçe (139 overall wins) and Galatasaray (116 wins) share a proud history spanning more than a century. Their impassioned supporters have fueled decades of ferocious competition.

Breakdown of Honors

Despite Galatasaray’s European triumphs, Fenerbahçe has surpassed them for domestic success with 20 league crowns compared to Gala’s 22. These lopsided numbers indicate why their derby showdowns rate so highly.

Fiercest Football Derbies Around The Globe


Total Wins

League Titles







Manchester Derby: United vs City

Across the city of Manchester, legendary institutions Manchester United and Manchester City wage battle for football supremacy. With United boasting illustrious history and City buoyed by unlimited funds, their derby showdown makes for captivating viewing.

Beginning as a low-key friendly affair, tensions boiled over in a 1970 cup tie when a nasty tackle by United’s George Best broke a City player’s leg. Hostility between both sets of supporters still lingers from that incident.

Nowadays, the Manchester Derby holds colossal implications in the Premier League title race. United’s record of 20 championships dwarf City’s recent domestic success, while the noisy City fans are desperate to usurp their rivals. This all combines to produce an electric atmosphere.

Recent Scorelines

With City’s influx of world-class talent over the past decade, they have begun to establish dominance over the Red Devils. Thumping wins like 6-1 in 2011 and 4-1 in 2013 stick in the craw for proud United supporters.


Total Wins

EPL Titles

Man United



Man City



Old Firm: Celtic vs Rangers

In Glasgow, religious divides fuel the Old Firm rivalry contested between Celtic and Rangers – Scotland’s most successful football clubs. Celtic’s foundations closely align with Irish Catholic immigrant communities in Western Scotland, while Rangers generally attract Protestants.

As such, Celtic vs Rangers showdowns feature some of Britain’s most intense football atmospheres. At times, this has manifested in alarming incidents of crowd trouble and fan violence.

Fiercest Football Derbies Around The Globe

Thankfully, tensions have eased somewhat recently, but significant animosity still exists between the two firms of supporters. With Rangers edging 52 Scottish league crowns to Celtic’s 51, the Glasgow title race often swings on the outcome of their two league fixtures.

Opposing Styles of Play

Matches often play out as clashes of style – with Rangers implementing a typically rugged Scottish approach compared to Celtic’s smooth passing game bearing Hallmarks of Spain and Ireland. This stylistic split only accentuates divisions between the clubs.


Total Wins

League Titles







SuperclĂĄsico: Boca Juniors vs River Plate

The monumental clashes in Argentina between Buenos Aires clubs Boca Juniors and River Plate make up South American football’s most intense rivalry.

As well as geographical proximity, the SuperclĂĄsico also carried strong social elements in its origins. Working-class suburban communities tended to support Boca, while River Plate became the club of choice for wealthier city center dwellers.

On derby day, these passionate sets of supporters go to extremes in their mission to outnumber and outsing their rivals. Flares and banners decorate the Bombonera and El Monumental stadiums that literally shake with noise.

With 89 wins over 78, Boca narrowly leads the head-to-head record. But in 2018, River Plate broke Boca hearts by defeating them in the final of the Copa Libertadores.

Continental Success

Beyond their consuming local rivalry, Boca Juniors and River Plate rank among the most successful clubs in South America’s history. Boca has won six Copa Libertadores trophies, while River recently picked up their fourth title.

Fiercest Football Derbies Around The Globe


Total Wins

Copa Libertadores

Boca Juniors



River Plate



El ClĂĄsico: Real Madrid vs Barcelona

When Spanish football heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona face off, it constitutes the most watched regular league fixture across all sports. Broadcast around the world, El ClĂĄsico draws in casual fans and newcomers to football alike.

The roots of this bitter rivalry lie in Greater Spain’s cultural and political divides. Real Madrid initially became aligned with Spanish dictator Franco’s centralized regime. In contrast, FC Barcelona and their fans proudly spearheaded the Catalan independence movement in defiance.

On the field, both clubs summoned a conveyor belt of genius talents who embellished this legendary rivalry. Real Madrid has compiled more La Liga triumphs, but Barcelona hotly disputes their standing as Spain’s preeminent force.

Marquee Names

A glittering array of Ballon D’or winners have graced this bitter rivalry – adding world-class quality to affairs. Spanish stars like Raul, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta were joined by global greats including Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Lionel Messi.


Total Wins

La Liga Titles

Real Madrid






The Eternal Derby: Red Star Belgrade vs Partizan

The intense footballing rivalry between Red Star Belgrade and Partizan is a distinctly modern phenomenon, with both clubs remarkably founded in 1945 after Nazi occupation ended in Yugoslavia.

While the world-famous Red Star lifted the European crown in 1991, Partizan matched their rivals’ feat by participating in the 1966 showpiece. Currently, Red Star claims 105 derby day triumphs over 99 for the boys in black and white.

Fiercest Football Derbies Around The Globe

On derby weekend, the Serbian capital transforms into a surreal spectacle, with flares and ticker tape engulfing the stadiums. Unfortunately, hooliganism has often marred this emotionally-charged rivalry. Heavy security interventions are now commonplace to keep both sets of volatile supporters in check.

More Notable Derbies

Our round-up of classic derby matches only scratches the surface of rivalry-fueled drama worldwide. Here are some other hotly-contested faceoffs:

Germany – Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich

In the mid-90s, Borussia Dortmund disrupted Bayern Munich’s dominance of German football. Although Bayern has since restored overall supremacy, their incendiary matchups with BVB now constitute Germany’s high-profile Klassiker.

Greece – Olympiakos vs Panathiniakos

As Greek football’s most successful clubs, Olympiakos and Panathiniakos contest the Derby of the Eternal Enemies. Athens’ upper class historically backed Panathiniakos, while working-class port communities in Piraeus live and breathe Olympiakos.

Brazil – Flamengo vs Fluminense

Rio de Janeiro’s Fla-Flu Derby holds the world record for highest attendance at a club football match. In 1963, a staggering 194,000 supporters crammed into MaracanĂŁ stadium to witness Flamengo versus Fluminense.

Why Local Rivalries Run So Deep

While global fans tune into football’s headline heavyweight contests, local derbies represent grassroots culture and tradition. Neighboring teams often split communities, with their meetings causing unprecedented excitement and anxiety.

Nothing quite compares to celebrating bragging rights over despised nearby rivals. Equally, losing the derby can ruin a fan’s entire weekend or month.

Tribal Identities

Derbies crystallize tribal identities within football. Fans forge bonds over generations through shared rituals, stories, and gathering places. Defining oneself against local rivals offers devotees great purpose and belonging.

Fiercest Football Derbies Around The Globe

Family Traditions

Supporting specific clubs frequently passes between household generations as an unbreakable tradition. Turning one’s back on these fiercely-held loyalty bonds brings unthinkable shame. Local derbies distill these allegiances into their rawest form.

Final Thoughts

Football fans relish the unfiltered intensity when two eternal adversaries clash. Local pride, cultural identity, and family bonds intertwine with on-field exploits to create the beautiful game’s most dramatic storylines.

While fanaticism has manifested in disturbing incidents, most supporters ultimately express their passion peacefully. Football simply serves as the outlet for deep-lying social dynamics.

If you ever get the opportunity, attending a derby promises a truly unforgettable experience. The atmosphere almost takes on a life of its own.

Just don’t celebrate an injury-time winner too overtly around opposition die-hards!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the biggest football derby in the world?

El ClĂĄsico between Spanish super-clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona draws the largest global audience. Their 310 meetings also constitute the most-played local derby fixture ever.

What Premier League derby is the most famous? The North West Derby between Liverpool and Manchester United commands the most worldwide interest. Games held at Anfield and Old Trafford attract viewers from all corners of the globe.

Which club football match holds the attendance record?

In 1963, a scarcely fathomable 194,000 spectators crammed into Rio de Janiero’s Maracanã Stadium to watch the Fla-Flu derby between Flamengo and Fluminense.

This epic crowd remains by far the highest ever recorded for a club football match.

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