Wednesday, 24 Jul 2024

The Top 10 Football Derbies

Liverpool and Everton Stadiums From Above

Every football match is significant, but when it comes to derby games between fierce rivals, there’s an added intensity and local pride at stake. Proper derbies can split families apart on match days and make people feel passionate about their team. In this article, we’ll explore the top ten football derbies from around the world, according to us.

What Does ‘Derby’ Mean In Football?

John M / Royal Shrovetide outside ‘the bridge’

Before we dive in, let’s clarify the definition of a ‘derby’ in football. While some use the term loosely to describe any game between rival teams, a true derby is a match between two teams that share a city. For example, Barcelona vs. Real Madrid is a fierce rivalry, but it’s not considered a true derby.

The origin of the word is disputed, with some attributing it to the “Royal Shrovetide Football Match” in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, while others believe it refers to the Derby horse race in Epsom. Regardless, the term ‘derby’ now encompasses any sporting event with a strong local rivalry. The first recorded use of the word in relation to a football game was in 1914, describing the local derby between Liverpool and Everton.

Top Ten Football Derby Matches

Liverpool v Everton

For years, this clash between Liverpool’s two teams was known as the ‘friendly derby’ due to the close ties between supporters. However, the rivalry has grown more intense over time, with the most sendings-off in English football happening in this match. The bitterness is rooted in the fallout from the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster, which led to English clubs being banned from Europe.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  Number 11 in Soccer: A Rich History and Its Significance

Inter Milan v AC Milan

Known as the Derby della Madonnina, this Milan derby represents a clash of cultures. Historically, Inter fans were seen as more affluent, while AC supporters identified with the working class. What sets this derby apart is that both teams share the same stadium, the San Siro, making it one of the few derbies played consistently in the same venue.

Lazio v Roma

The Derby della Capitale holds immense importance for both Lazio and Roma, despite neither club having won many Italian top-flight titles. This match is all about local pride and bragging rights. It’s worth noting Lazio’s ‘Ultras,’ known for their extreme fanaticism, and the political differences between the two sets of fans, which add an additional layer of intensity to the rivalry.

CSKA Moscow v Spartak Moscow

The Moscow derby between CSKA and Spartak is charged with political significance. The two teams are believed to represent different ideologies, with Spartak associated with the working class and CSKA being backed by the Russian government and the military. The rivalry raises the question of what matters more in football: popularity or success?

Celtic v Rangers

The Glasgow-based Old Firm derby has deep religious roots, originating from the historical divide between Catholics and Protestants in the city. The rivalry extends to the Loyalist and Republican sentiments in Northern Ireland and the desire for independence. The intense dislike between the two sets of supporters remains, even if the religious aspect has diminished over time.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

The North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is a result of the geographical separation between the clubs. The rivalry intensified when Arsenal moved to Highbury, near White Hart Lane, in 1913. Arsenal’s subsequent success compared to Tottenham’s has fueled the bitterness between the two clubs.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  7 Best Soccer Games On Mobile (Android & iOS)

Benfica v Sporting Lisbon

Known by various names such as Derby Eterno or Derby da Segunda Circular, the Lisbon derby sees Benfica take on Sporting Lisbon. The rivalry between the two clubs dates back to 1907 when several Benfica players switched sides before the first derby match. Class and financial disparities have influenced the rivalry, with Benfica being associated with students and Sporting Lisbon initially receiving financial support from a viscount.

Fenerbahce v Galatasaray

The ‘Intercontinental Derby’ between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray takes place in Istanbul, a city divided by cultures. The friendly match that started it all quickly escalated into a fierce rivalry. The contest represents the clash between those who challenge authority (Fenerbahce) and those who are affiliated with it (Galatasaray). The fixture has seen memorable incidents, such as ex-Galatasaray manager Graeme Souness planting a flag in the middle of Fenerbahce’s pitch.

Manchester United v Manchester City

The Manchester Derby, often referred to as the noisy neighbors vs. the prawn sandwich brigade, has a long-standing history dating back to 1881. The rivalry intensified during the 1970s and has continued since then. Manchester United’s success and Manchester City’s rise in wealth have added fuel to the fire.

Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid

Considered the biggest derby in Spain, the rivalry between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid highlights the clash between establishment and rebel identities. Real Madrid’s dominance, combined with support from the authorities, has shifted the balance of power in El Derbi madrileño. However, victory in this match holds great significance for Atletico Madrid, as it provides an opportunity to prove their worth against the more established club.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  The 7 Best Center Backs in Soccer History


Q: What is the definition of a football derby?

A: A football derby refers to a match between two teams from the same city that share a local rivalry. It often carries a greater intensity and significance than other games.

Q: Which football derby has the most intense rivalry?

A: The intensity of football derbies can vary, but some of the most fiercely contested rivalries include Liverpool vs. Everton, Inter Milan vs. AC Milan, and Celtic vs. Rangers.

Q: Are football derbies known for violence?

A: While football derbies can sometimes be marred by violence, it is important to note that not all rivalries result in violent incidents. Many matches are passionately contested without any major issues.


In this article, we explored the top ten football derbies from around the world. These matches go beyond the usual desire for victory and inspire fierce local pride and intense rivalries. From Liverpool vs. Everton and Inter Milan vs. AC Milan to Manchester United vs. Manchester City and Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid, each derby carries its unique history and significance. Whether it’s religion, politics, or geography, the rivalries are deeply ingrained, making these matches the highlight of the football calendar. To experience the passion and excitement, be sure to catch these derbies when they come around.