Real Madrid vs Barcelona, Man Utd vs Liverpool: Football's top 30 greatest rivalries

  • Kobe Tong

Real Madrid welcome Barcelona to the Bernabeu on Sunday evening for the latest installment of El Clasico.

In what will always endure as one of the sport’s most-watched games, the Spanish giants will do battle to see if Real can continue their recent dominance or if Barcelona can deliver the biggest result of Xavi’s reign so far.

Los Blancos won the opening La Liga meeting of the season with a 2-1 triumph at Camp Nou, before needing extra time to get the better of the Blaugrana in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona

However, no matter what happens in the Spanish capital this weekend, there’s no escaping the fact that millions of people around the world will be tuning in to watch one of football’s biggest rivalries either way.

Besides, for what the two clubs lack in proximity to one another, they certainly make up for with a cocktail of history, prestige and dare we say hatred that always makes El Clasico compulsive viewing.

As much as the heady days of regular Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi clashes might be over, Real vs Barcelona will always be a game that prickles you with goosebumps when you see it on the fixture list.

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El Clasico: The greatest rivalry in football?

In fact, such is the legendary status of El Clasico within footballing folklore that fans have voted the fixture as the sport’s greatest rivalry of all time.

Interactive ranking website thetoptens.com has a fascinating list on the ‘Top 10 Greatest Soccer Rivalries’ where supporters can cast their vote on which footballing match-up they consider to be the best.

The criteria? Well, the caption of the list simply reads as “The fiercest and most exciting rivalries in all of soccer,” so a mixture of passion and entertainment seems to be the order of the day.

And in a fascinating list that extends beyond the titular ‘Top 10’, Barcelona vs Real Madrid has beaten out iconic matches from Scotland, Italy, Brazil, Egypt and beyond to be named football’s greatest rivalry.

Football Soccer – Barcelona v Real Madrid – Spanish La Liga Santander- Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, Spain – 3/12/16. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in action during the “Clasico”. REUTERS/Sergio Perez (SPAIN – Tags: SOCCER SPORT)

The top 30 greatest rivalries in football

So, do you agree or disagree? Well, actually, hold that thought because you can check out the top 30 at the time of writing first to get an idea of just how they lined up behind Barcelona vs Real – check it out:

30. Persib Bandung vs Persija Jakarta

29. Club America vs Guadalajara

28. Corinthians vs Palmeiras

27. Benfica vs Sporting CP

26. Al Ahly vs Zamalek

25. Arsenal vs Chelsea

Soccer Football – Premier League – Arsenal v Chelsea – Emirates Stadium, London, Britain – August 22, 2021 Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku in action with Arsenal’s Pablo Mari REUTERS/David Klein EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

24. Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke

23. Argentina vs Brazil

22. Ajax vs Feyenoord

21. England vs Scotland

20. Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid

Soccer Football – LaLiga – Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain – December 12, 2021 Atletico Madrid’s Matheus Cunha in action with Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal REUTERS/Sergio Perez

19. Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund

18. Millwall vs West Ham United

17. Olympiacos vs Panathinaikos

16. Manchester City vs Manchester United

15. AS Roma vs Lazio

Soccer Football – Serie A – Lazio v AS Roma – Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy – September 26, 2021 AS Roma’s Bryan Cristante in action with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

14. Germany vs Netherlands

13. Partizan Belgrade vs Red Star Belgrade

12. Australia vs New Zealand

11. Germany vs Poland

10. Newcastle United vs Sunderland

Football Soccer – Newcastle United v Sunderland – Barclays Premier League – St James’ Park – 20/3/16 Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates after scoring the first goal for Newcastle Reuters / Russell Cheyne Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

9. Mexico vs United States of America

8. Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur

7. AC Milan vs Inter Milan

6. Boca Juniors vs River Plate

5. Everton vs Liverpool

Soccer Football – Premier League – Liverpool v Everton – Anfield, Liverpool, Britain – February 20, 2021 Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson in action with Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin Pool via REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

4. Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray

3. Liverpool vs Manchester United

2. Celtic vs Rangers

  1. Barcelona vs Real Madrid
Soccer Football – LaLiga – FC Barcelona v Real Madrid – Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – October 24, 2021 Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema in action with FC Barcelona’s Gavi REUTERS/Albert Gea

Is El Clasico really the best?

Wowsers. You could feel the tension and passion through each of those edge-of-your seat fixtures.

Now, from where we’re standing, we can understand why the majority of fans would consider Barcelona vs Real Madrid to be the most glitzy, glamorous, famous and high-profile of all footballing rivalries.

But you’ll forgive us for thinking that Boca Juniors vs River Plate, Partizan Belgrade vs Red Star Belgrade and most certainly Celtic vs Rangers pack more passion, needle and pure, well, rivalry into their own clashes.

Soccer Football – Scottish Premiership – Rangers v Celtic – Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow, Britain – September 1, 2019 Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos clashes with Celtic’s Jonny Hayes Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

A lot of that could simply be down to the fact that those legendary fixtures are contained within the same city, but El Clasico has never struck us as a game where the rivalry off the pitch is the very best in the world.

Then again, with the list ultimately judged on both the fierceness and entertainment factor of the rivalries, you’ve got to hold your hands up and say that countless Barcelona vs Real games have been thrilling.

So, at the end of the day, it’s a question of what floats your own boat and if you happen to support one of the clubs in the list, then the chances are that your personal derby is the one that means the most.

Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea Match Reaction (Football Terrace)

But for football fans in general, it looks as though Real vs Barcelona takes the biscuit and we can’t wait to see how the latest instalment plays out.

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