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The Greatest Derbies In World Football

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Football has seen its fair share of incredible rivalries between clubs during its rich and long history, some of which can be followed back to over a century. During that time, innumerable managers and players have gone back and forth, but the clubs have lived on with their pride and heritage at stake to keep the rivalries fueled. As fans of the game & your club, these are the games you love to win and absolutely hate to lose. In our two-part series at Man’s Life, here are six top rivalries from every corner of the world:

The Old Firm Derby


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The Old Firm derby is the age-old contest between Scottish Giants Rangers and Celtic. This derby is one of the oldest and dirtiest derbies. While the football is intense, this single rivalry is also responsible for creating millions in income for the economy of Scotland. This contest often highlights numerous disputes addressed by the two clubs, like religion (Catholicism versus Protestantism) and public personalities (Irish Scot versus British). The game likewise has a background marked by savagery with various fans being engaged with pitch attacks and invasions; and the viciousness of the passionate fans has even led to deaths over the years.

The Superclásico


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The Superclásico is quite possibly one of the most extreme derbies on the planet. Since 1913, Boca Juniors and River Plate have fought to guarantee the title of being the best club in Bueno Aires. What adds to the spice is the social separation in the fan bases as Boca Juniors has the reputation of working-class citizens while River Plate fans in general are said to come from the privileged. These clubs have often met in the Copa Libertadores and all through the 2010s, River Plate has eliminated Boca Juniors five times. The 2015 encounter saw a Boca fan assault a few River Plate players with pepper spray and in some sense, that intensity demonstrates that the competition between these clubs is serious business.

El Classico


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El Clásico is quite possibly the most invigorating derby in the realm of football between the two giants of Spanish football, Real Madrid and Barcelona. The game is watched by millions worldwide as the two clubs have a huge worldwide fanbase. This derby is additionally known to address diverse political perspectives; Real Madrid is viewed as addressing Spanish patriotism while Barcelona, Catalan patriotism. Numerous incredible players have represented these clubs, like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Luís Figo among a host of stars. The encounter sells out faster than most in world sport and has produced some of the most cagey affairs football.

Derby della Madonnina (Milan Derby)


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The Milan derby between city rival’s AC Milan and Inter Milan is known to be one the greatest in Italy. The two clubs consider San Siro as their home, and the fight for pride between the two clubs is to claim that they are the best team on that pitch. The birthplace of this derby can be followed to a historic social split between fans with Inter drawing in the bourgeoisie while AC Milan pulled in the common labourers. The two groups have delighted fans over the years and have 18 Serie A titles. Despite the fact that the two sides have been battered by other class rivals in recent times, this match actually holds significance in the hearts of their fans as the two clubs work to be the best Milan.

East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan


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It’s always a monumental affair when these two titans of Kolkata collide. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have historically shared the 100,000-capacity Salt Lake Stadium and the derby has often filled it to capacity, and then some! The record attendance back in 1997 was over 130,000 and the rivalry essentially began when local club Jora Bagan decided to leave out defender, Sailesh Bose for a game in 1920. The club’s vice-president, Suresh Chandra Chaudhuri was so miffed that he went ahead and set up a new outfit.

They called it East Bengal and this has since led to something of a social gulf between the clubs with East Bengal pitted against India’s oldest club, established in 1889. At its core, the Kolkata derby is the rivalry between the ‘Ghoti’ and the ‘Bangal’ and has percolated the very fabric of Bengali sentiment. The rivalry has now been re-ignited with their initiation into the Hero Indian Super League and while ATK Mohun Bagan has tasted far more ISL success, we’re certain that this rivalry will only grow to greater heights soon!

Manchester Derby


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The Manchester derby is played between city rivals Manchester United and Manchester City and over recent times has seen Manchester City eclipse their more famous rivals. It often allows both sides to flaunt the absolute best English players to contest the game and has seen some epic contests of late too. One celebrated game for City fans has to be the 6-1 drubbing of 2011 and the “noisy neighbors” have consistently been a thorn in Manchester United’s season. Lately, Manchester City has played some mesmerizing football while winning Premier League titles and with the resurgence of United, this rivalry could very well remain a spicy affair for seasons to come.


[Image Credit: LaLiga]