Saturday evening brought us another does of top class derby football as Real Madrid laid down a marker for the rest of the season by brushing aside Barcelona 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga's first Clasico of the season.
Neymar's early strike was cancelled out by a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty, before Pepe and Karim Benzema gave the home side the lead and handed the Catalan club their first defeat of the season.
Few matches in football can excite quite like a derby, whether it be local or founded on some perceived slight in the distant past, and La Liga's biggest is probably the most high-profile around the world.
It most certainly is not the only one, however, and I have put together a list of the biggest and fiercest derbies that can be found. Unsurprisingly, the weekends event mean we will kick-off with the Spanish clash...
Real Madrid v Barcelona
The obvious place to start is El Classico contested between Real Madrid and Barcelona, when these two heavyweights of world football meet the world stops and watches. One of the things that sets this game apart from the rest of the world’s big games is the amount of world class players that both sides have in their squads.
This season's Clasicos will feature players such as Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, James Rodriquez, Benzema and Toni Kroos for Madrid and Barcelona will feature Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
With all these world class players on the pitch you can always expect goals when they meet and the last league meeting definitely proofed that with Barca winning 4-3 in
In the last couple of season’s their games with Atletico Madrid have seen leagues and cups won and last season over shadowed the Classico but Real Madrid v Barcelona will remain the biggest game in Spain and probably the biggest in the world.
Manchester United vs Manchester City
The Manchester derby has grown in size in recent seasons and this year looks set to be even bigger. Since City’s takeover the Manchester derby has gone from been just a local affair to the biggest game in England, overtaking more established fixtures like United vs Liverpool or Chelsea vs Arsenal.
In the early days of the new era of the derby, United put their ‘noisy neighbours’ firmly in their place with a 4-3 victory at Old Trafford in 2009. Since then City have humiliated United too many times for Old Trafford fans liking, with city claiming a 6-1 victory at United and winning 4-1 at the Etihad in the last few years.
This season's derby could see any scoreline with the amount of quality attacking players on show Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Juan Mata, Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao for the reds.
Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Samir Nasri for the sky blues means there will be goals a plenty when they meet at the Etihad Stadium for the first time this season next weekend.
Celtic v Rangers
The Old Firm derby might not have the world superstars that the previous mentioned two have, but the fans definitely are as passionate maybe even more. With the lack of competitiveness in the Scottish leagues the Glasgow derby could often decide which team would win the league.
However, unfortunately for the fans of Celtic and Rangers, the two sides haven’t met for a few years due to Rangers financial troubles, which saw them relegated to the fourth tier
of Scottish football.
Rangers have been rising back up the leagues, however, and could have league derby again as early as next season, but it could take a few more seasons for the game to be competitive again because of Celtic’s far superiority due to recent events.
Despite that, after being deprived of a derby for so long when they finally meet again there will be passion a plenty all around Glasgow.
River Plate v Boca Juniors
The Buenos Aries derby, or Superclasico, is the biggest club game in Argentina and arguably South America. With the majority of the population supporting one of the two giants, it’s a huge game in Argentina, it is also considered to be one of the ultimate footballing experiences in the world.
Both sides are having mixed times of late with one doing well one year and then the other doing poorly and that seems to be a new pattern of the derby.
While both River and Boca can’t really attract any real world class talent to Argentina the Superclasico has season some of the world’s best make their names for the two sides. Players such as Falcao, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano have graced the high-octane clash.
Galatasaray v Fenerbache
The Istanbul derby isn’t just seen as a local city rivalry but as a European v Asian rivalry due to the two side’s geographical location in Istanbul. Both sides have rivalries with other sides in Istanbul, especially with Besiktas, but nothing compares two when they meet each over.
However, sometimes passions can run too high when they meet and violence between the fans has been known to take over and dominate headlines, rather than the actual football itself.
There have been incidents in the past where flares are thrown on to the pitch and bottles and even the seats from the stands are thrown at the players from angry opposition supporters.
AC Milan v Inter Milan and Roma v Lazio
The Milan derby and the Rome derby are the two biggest games in Italian football. Matches between these sides and reigning champions Juventus are big occasions in the Serie A calendar but do not rival the two big derbies.
The one big thing that these derbies have in common to make them so
big is that the clubs ground share. Milan and Inter share the San Siro, whereas Roma and Lazio share the Stadio Olimpico.
The Milan derby has decreased in quality in recent seasons due to the fall of the two Milan clubs in European football but is still a huge game to the supporters whereas the Rome derby never has had as many top players as AC and Inter due to the fact that both Roma and Lazio don’t have the financial power as other Italian clubs. It is difficult to pick which is the biggest game in Italy.
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund
Der Klassiker is the biggest game in German football and has intensified now that both Bayern and Dortmund are viewed as two powerhouses of European football again. Fans are treated to some real quality when the two sides meet and there is nether a clear favourite when they meet and the scoreline can be anything.
Dortmund fan’s rivalry towards Bayern has grown even more after Bayern signed both Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund and after Bayern beat Dortmund in the 2013 champions league final at Wembley.
This is always a very attractive game to watch and the displays by the fans especially by Dortmund’s yellow wall are very impressive indeed.
Olympiakos v Panathinaikos
Derby of the eternal enemies is contested by the two biggest clubs in Greek football. This rivalry is known around the world again not as much for the quality of the football but for the clashes that can happen between the ultras of the two clubs.
Both sides have huge fan bases throughout Greece, which means it’s a big occasion when they meet nationally. Due to the financial troubles in Greece, Panathinaikos have had to sell a lot of their top players and aren’t as competitive with Olympiakos as they use to be, but for both sets of fans this is still the big game of Greek football.
Red Star Belgrade v Partizan Belgrade
Admittedly this isn’t the biggest game in world football, most football fans probably couldn’t name a player from either side but all football fans know of the rivalry that the two clubs share.
This game is definitely better known for fans behaviour rather fan the football. The two sets of fans hate each other and Belgrade derbies usually erupt into chaos.
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