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Soccer is the most viewed sport in the world with millions attending matches in Europe and South America every year. The top leagues and competitions are broadcast live on television to a global audience with the English Premier
As we were reminded during the national COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, soccer is nothing without fans, and that could be extended to all sports. It’s also nothing without rivalry. Derby matches come in all shapes and sizes, including local derbies, matches involving two successful sides and just a pair of clubs holding a grudge.
Fans buy into the needle between the rivals and love to watch the latest clash, cheering on their favourites. League and World Cup being the two most popular tournaments with both armchair fans and gamblers. It’s little surprise to learn the leading bookies at vegas betting offer extensive soccer coverage.
Soccer is packed with derby matches and rivalries but some are more fierce than others and more famous. What are the five biggest grudge matches from world football? You know the games we mean. It matters just as much to the players and coaches as it does to those camped in the stands. There are high tackles, head to heads, controversy, talking points and plenty of goals. On this page, we pick out five must-see soccer derbies.
Old Firm Derby – Scotland
Number one is the Old Firm Derby which pairs Glasgow’s two biggest teams, Rangers and Celtic, the blues and the greens. Rangers are the nation’s most successful side with 55 league championships, leaving Celtic choking in their dust.
The Hoops missed out on the chance to win a historic 10 in a row last season when finishing way behind Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. The battles at Ibrox and Parkhead are heated with as much passion on the pitch as there is in the stands.
Merseyside Derby – England
English Premier League sides Liverpool and Everton make up the Merseyside Derby, played at Anfield or Goodison Park. The reds versus the blues. Liverpool has been far more successful in England and on the continent throughout history and recently followed Champions League success with another league title, their first of the Premier League era.
Everton fans haven’t had a lot to cheer for in recent years, but they love nothing more than getting one over on their great rivals. Beating the reds helps mask the pain of failing to challenge for the league title or trouble the top four.
El Clasico – Spain
La Liga sides Barcelona and Real Madrid combine to make El Clasico, a Spanish football match that attracts a global audience. The stats show Barcelona hold the lion’s share of wins over the years and have 32 El Clasico victories at the time of writing. Blancos have won this fixture 26 times, with 21 games ending in a draw.
These fixtures are often tight affairs but with plenty of goals. Both teams have scored in each of the last three renewals, with the last two El Clasico’s ending in a 2-1 win for Real Madrid. Are we seeing the tide turn in Madrid’s favour? They’ll certainly get nothing cheaply against their old rivals.
Milan Derby – Italy
Inter Milan and AC Milan rank amongst the most successful teams in Italian football, and they are both major names on the continent. When they come together to share the grass, you will see fireworks. It’s not uncommon for tempers to boil over in this fixture, and we’ve seen more than a few red cards over the years.
The teams are so evenly matched, and that translates into competitive derbies with very little between the teams. Both AC Milan and Inter Milan have experience of winning the Serie A, and they are expected to battle it out for the league flag this season.
Superclasico – Argentina
The two biggest names in Argentinian football are Boca Juniors and River Plate, and the Superclasico really has to be seen to be believed. This match has caused crowd trouble over the years, but the football on show is gritty, determined and full-blooded.
Often, both sides seem to abandon all ideas of defence and go on the attack, trying to out-score the other. That makes for thrilling football for the neutrals and armchair fans.