Man United vs Liverpool, Barcelona vs Real Madrid: Football's 50 greatest derbies ranked

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Few fixtures whet the appetite quite like a classic derby.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill games. There’s an opportunity for bragging rights – to get one over your biggest rivals.

In some cases, winning the derby can be a season highlight. Especially for certain clubs who haven’t had much luck with winning major trophies.

No, we’re not talking about any specific club – *cough* Spurs *cough*.

But in all serious, football is made better by the intense derby matches we’re treated to each season.

They are historic occasions that produce passion and a spirit that is just lacking with your average fixture.

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50 greatest derbies in the world

Last year, FourFourTwo decided to rank the 50 greatest derbies in world football, highlighting the biggest and best when it comes to the game’s showpiece affairs.

50. Sheffield United vs Sheffield Wednesday

The past three meetings between these two bastions of Yorkshire steel have finished 0-0.

Perhaps not as exciting as first thought.

49. Blooming vs Oriente Petrolero

When it comes to derby matches, this isn’t a household name. But this game in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz did attract headlines in 2008 when an Oriente player sparked a brawl after celebrating scoring by dancing like a chicken.

48. Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders

There’s still a notion that MLS fans aren’t as raucous as their counterparts in other parts of the world, but the Timbers vs Sounders is the States’ biggest clash.

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47. Lyon vs Saint-Etienne

Lyon dominated Le Derby during their most dominant run in the French league.

46. Newell’s Old Boys vs Rosario Central

Many know Newell’s due to Lionel Messi, but they should also know about their rivalry with Rosario Central in Argentina’s third-biggest city.

45. Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad

While still a rivalry, the Basque derby often provides a show of strength against the central government in Madrid.

44. Everton vs Santiago Wanderers

Everton de Vina del Mar in Chile once won this match 17-0.

How’s that for bragging rights?

43. FC Seoul vs Suwon Bluewings

FC Seoul were once LG Cheetahs. They’ve relocated twice – first in 1996 and again eight years later – but the animosity between the clubs remains.

42. Bahia vs Vitoria

In the early days of this derby, played in the Brazilian city of Salvador, players from the two teams used to make offerings to different Gods in the hopes of securing victory.

41. Dynamo Moscow vs Spartak Moscow

Moscow’s oldest derby, Dynamo were founded in 1923, one year after Spartak.

40. America vs Deportivo Cali

Both sides have suffered plenty of heartache over the years. In a 1931 cup final, America protested a 1-0 defeat to Deportivo by circulating angry leaflets in the area.

39. Hamburg vs St. Pauli

The German police rated this as the country’s most violent derby. Hooliganism has been rife over the years.

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38. Alianza Lima vs Universitario

In the very meeting meeting between these two clubs from Peru, Alianza had five players sent off after falling behind.

37. CSKA Sofia vs Levski Sofia

Levski weren’t happy when CSKA Sofia encroached on their territory and things have been tense ever since.

36. Cerro Portion vs Olimpia

Olimpia forgot to turn up to their first derby against Cerro Portion.

Things are most sophisticated now though, and Paraguay comes to a standstill whenever the sides meet.

35. Glentoran vs Linfield

Northern Ireland’s two biggest sides are far ahead of any other side in the region.

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34. Barcelona vs Emelec

Not the Barcelona from La Liga.

This Barcelona, from Ecuador’s Serie A, have been just as successful though, beating all before them.

33. Esteghal vs Persepolis

Iran’s two most successful teams both play in the huge Azahi Stadium, which has a capacity of 95,000.

32. Dinamo Bucharest vs FCSB

FCSB were once Steaua Bucharest.

The two clubs dominated in the Communist era after receiving help from the Romanian state.

31. Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates

Kaizer Chiefs were born out of in-fighting at Orlando Pirates. Their former player, Kaizer Motuang, was convinced to start his own club and a new rivalry was born.

30. Genoa vs Sampdoria

The Derby della Lanterna is about more than just football.

The city was split between those fighting for and against Rome in the Second Punic War (218-201BC).

29. Colo-Colo vs Universidad de Chile

Universidad like to tease Colo-Colo by calling their home the ‘Pinochet Stadium’, referencing the controversy surrounding the notorious dictator allegedly funding the ground.

28. Benfica vs Sporting

Sporting started out by poaching Benfica’s players and the rivalry soon became one of wealth and class.

27. Hajduk Split vs Dinamo Zagreb

Dubbed the ‘Eternal Derby’, these two clubs represent the biggest cities in Croatia.

26. Raja vs Wydad

This derby has gone too far on more than one occasion. Located in Casablanca, a fan was killed in 2007.

Three years later, a riot led to more than 100 arrests.

25. Real Betis vs Sevilla

Another clash of classes. Betis have stayed true to their blue-collar roots.

24. Newcastle United vs Sunderland

Some Newcastle fans even refuse to eat bacon because of its red and white stripes…

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23. Corinthians vs Palmeiras

This Sao Paulo rivalry is intense. Unfortunately, a bystander lost their life in 2016 amid running conflict between fans.

22. Partizan Belgrade vs Red Star Belgrade

The clubs were born from Yugoslavia’s postwar reconstruction – Red Star by the League of Communists, Partizan by Army officers.

21. East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan

Mohun Bengal are the oldest club in India. East Bengal, however, were born as a breakaway, and have ties to the separatist movements of what is now Bangladesh.

20. Arsenal vs Tottenham

The North London Derby is a must-watch affair.

With both teams unable to challenge for the Premier League right now, winning this game has even more importance.

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19. Olympiacos vs Panathinaikos

Known as the ‘Mother of All Battles’, and with good reason.

18. Flamengo vs Fluminense

As many as 194,000 have attended this iconic fixture at Brazil’s Maracana stadium.

17. FK Velez vs HSK Zrinkski

The Mostar derby in Bosnia divides Velez, which has a strong Muslim backing, and Zrinjski, which is still a symbol of Croat nationalism.

16. Ajax vs Feyenoord

Liberal Amsterdam vs industrial Rotterdam, and the politics associated with both cities, makes this a derby about more than just football.

15. Independiente vs Racing Club

The two clubs are just 300 metres apart each other. Unsurprisingly, there have been a lot of riots over the years.

14. Portsmouth vs Southampton

The last time these sides met was in the 2019 League Cup, with Southampton prevailing 4-0.

13. AC Milan vs Inter

Inter were established during a split over signing foreign players among the Milan Cricket and Football Club.

They’ve been divided ever since, although they do of course share the same stadium.

12. Chivas Guadalajara vs Club America

In Mexico, America like to buy big from overseas while Chivas prefer to develop homegrown talent.

11. Marseille vs Paris Saint-Germain

PSG were only formed in 1949, so this isn’t a longstanding rivalry.

However the Parisians have had better fortunes of late.

10. Ah Ahly vs Zamalek

More than 50 million watch this fixture in Egypt. The two clubs share different ideologies; Al Ahly represent national independence while Zamalek celebrate Egyptians and Europeans playing together.

9. Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke

Attending a Revierderby has to be on the bucket list of football fans.

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8. Gremio vs Internacional

In Brazil, Gremio was initially a members’ club who accepted only those of German ancestry.

So a group of brothers – who had Italian roots – decided to start a new club, hence the name.

7. Liverpool vs Manchester United

Beating Liverpool is still more important to Man United and their fans than beating City, which says a lot about this rivalry.

6. Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray

There’s never been much love lost between the two Istanbul clubs.

5. Lazio vs Roma

Paolo Di Canio once said supporters care more about winning this game than where they finish in Serie A.

4. Nacional vs Penarol

Outside of the UK, these are the two oldest club rivals. They first played each other in 1900.

3. Celtic vs Rangers

Another rivalry that extends to more than just football. Rangers’ return to the top has heightened the intensity in Scotland’s biggest clash.

2. Barcelona vs Real Madrid

El Clasico is another derby match that attracts viewers from all over the world.

The relationship between the clubs was summed up when Luis Figo had a pig’s head thrown at him after he left Barcelona to join Real.

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1. Boca Juniors vs River Plate

Over 2,000 police officers patrol the stadium on matchday. Bust-ups and red cards are the norm in this meeting of Argentinian giants.

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