The rivalry has always been an integral part of any sport, fuelling enthusiasm that inspires a sense of belonging and gives a special meaning to particular matches.
Football is no exception by any stretch of the imagination.
Defeat is a sin beyond forgiveness when it comes to derbies as we take a look at the five biggest football rivalries in Europe.
Derby della Madonnina
One of the most sought-after matches on the Serie A league calendar has been pitting AC Milan and Inter Milan against each other for over a century, creating one of the most famous rivalries football has ever seen.
Both tenants of the iconic San Siro, the Milan clubs first faced off in 1909 and have since gone on to lock horns on a further 232 occasions, with the Nerazzurri edging the Rossoneri out by a slim margin (W85, D69, L79).
Milan’s success in 2023/22 tied them with Inter on 19 Serie A triumphs apiece, meaning both sides are in pursuit of the second star on their jerseys as of this term.
However, when it comes to international football, Milan’s tally of seven Champions League titles, accompanied by countless continental and worldwide accolades, beats Inter’s European Cup double by a mile.
Though only Juventus of all Italian clubs boast a larger fanbase than the two Milan-based heavyweights in Italy and abroad, this fixture remains one of the most highly anticipated events in European football.
The Derby della Madonnina rivalry stretches beyond the football pitch as it also includes social and economic segregation.
Indeed, while Inter fans traditionally belong to the Milan bourgeoisie, the Rossoneri support comes mainly through the working class, adding a special note to this football phenomenon.
Der Klassiker, also known as ‘German Clasico,’ defines the long-standing rivalry between the two most-decorated Bundesliga teams, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
So you’d be forgiven for expecting this duel to highlight the feuds in Germany, but you’d be wrong, as the Germans still consider the Revierderby the pinnacle of domestic rivalry.
Known as the Ruhr derby outside the German borders, this mouth-watering fixture features the two North Rhine-Westphalia powerhouses, Dortmund and Schalke 04.
Despite Die Borussen’s rise to stardom in the 21st century, the Miners still lead the all-time H2H record, having won 60 of their 159 official match-ups (D43, L56).
You could cut the atmosphere with a knife whenever these two teams meet on the football pitch as the next-door neighbours ‘live and die’ depending on the outcome of this mammoth clash.
Schalke’s recent downfall has not taken a bit of glamour away from the Revierderby, underpinning the importance of this showdown for all Ruhr people.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest football rivalries on the planet, the Old Firm derby has been a cause of separation and tensions in Glasgow for over a century.
Celtic and Rangers, the two most successful and popular clubs in Scotland, have developed a long-standing confrontation on and off the pitch, building the fiercest rivalry in British football.
This handsomely-looking fixture, rooted deep into Scottish culture, has been contested 432 times, including the first-ever Old Firm edition dating back to 1888.
Bringing the largest fanbases in Scotland and throughout the planet into the equation, it’s no big surprise that this affair has had an enduring appeal around the globe.
Not even Rangers’ financial upheaval that forced the club into lower divisions in the 2010s’ has settled the nerves in Glasgow, with the flames of the rivalry continuing to burn in fans’ hearts with the same intensity.
Indeed, despite the Gers’ recent fall from grace, led by Steven Gerrard, they conquered the Scottish Premiership in 2020/21 to re-establish ascendancy in the top flight and rekindle the hatred between the clubs.
Celtic approached within just three trophies of their arch-rivals by reclaiming the Scottish Premiership title the following season, pouring more gasoline on the fire.
On top of that, the Hoops humbled the Gers 4-0 in September, entering the win column for the 162 time in the Old Firm to leave Rangers at 168 derby victories (D101).
El Clasico, the never-ending rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, has been by far the most highly anticipated fixture on the European football schedule for over a century.
Given the sides’ appeal around the globe, it’s somewhat normal that El Clasico stands as one of the most viewed annual events in the sports world.
5 European rivalries
Like many other rivalries, this one goes far beyond the football pitch, with Madrid and Barcelona, the two largest cities in Spain, often standing on the opposing sides of political confrontations.
Off-field conflicts, alongside the fact that Barca and Madrid are far and away the most successful football clubs in Spanish football, make the rivalry all the more intense.
Furthermore, they are the world’s most followed sports teams on social media, testifying to their worldwide reach and influence on football lovers global-wise.
The Blaugrana and Los Blancos will trade tackles in the first 2023/23 El Clasico next month, and it was available to watch online via sites listed on FootballToday.
Placed among the biggest-earning and widely supported football clubs in Europe, Liverpool and Manchester United have established a rivalry beyond measure in English league football history.
Like many other rivalries in the United Kingdom, Liverpool v Man Utd contains much more than just a combination of proximity and a shared level of success.
Even though the North-West fixture is not a local derby, the rivalry between the two most successful and supported English clubs is intense also due to the proximity of the two cities.
In terms of the most high-profile inter-city rivalries, the North-West derby holds a household status due to the worldwide recognition and prestige its protagonists have earned for their achievements.
For almost 130 years, Liverpool and Man Utd have deepened the antagonism and bitterness between the two cities, divided throughout history for their economic and industrial disputes.
Go ahead and ask fans of both clubs whether they appreciate a win in this fixture more than in their own cross-town match-ups.
Would you be surprised they cry out for it more loudly than for beating Everton and Manchester City, respectively?