Top 10 football derbies

A look at ten of world football's most renowned cross-town rivalries

Last Updated: 06/12/12 10:24am

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Ahead of this weekend's Manchester derby we look at ten of world football's most renowned cross-town rivalries.

From Rio to Rome, Cairo to Glasgow, these are the matches that matter most to fans as neighbourly bragging rights go up for grabs.

10. Al-Ahly v Zamalek (Cairo)

The Cairo derby sees Africa's two most successful clubs lock horns in an almighty contest viewed by thousands. Al-Ahly and Zamalek were named as the top two African clubs of the 20th Century by Confederation of African Football. The duo - located in Greater Cairo - do battle in what is always a tense and highly-charged encounter. So heated are the meetings that a foreign referee is drafted in to officiate. In Egypt, 1966 is remembered for a different reason to that of England's World Cup win after a controversial penalty sparked riots which caused serious damage to Zamalek's main stadium and the burning of a factory near the ground.

9. Sevilla v Real Betis (Seville)

While Barcelona v Real Madrid is undoubtedly the biggest rivalry in Spain, the most passionate cross-town showdown is probably found in the southern footballing hotbed of Seville. Fans are either red or green, Sevilla or Real Betis. Like many of the rivalries on this list, the two arch enemies came into being after a breakaway from one of the clubs lead to the creation of the other. Sevilla FC had originally been formed in 1905 by a mixture of local enthusiasts and British ex-pats who had first introduced the game to the area - hence the club being known as Sevilla FC rather than CF like most Spanish sides. Betis, or Real Betis Balompie to give them their full title, came into being some nine years later having joined forces with another Sevilla FC splinter group, Sevilla Balompie. Matches between the two provoke genuine hostility and the animosity has spilt over several times in recent years; notably when a Sevilla fan ran on to the pitch to confront Betis goalkeeper Toni Prats in 2002 and when Sevilla coach Juande Ramos was struck by a bottle thrown from the stands in 2007.

8. Flamengo v Fluminense (Rio de Janeiro)

Brazil, as seems only right for a football-obsessed country, hosts numerous raucous derby clashes with Gremio-Internacional and Sao Paulo-Corinthians two of the very biggest. But it's Rio de Janeiro's cross-town "Fla-Flu" match-up between Flamengo and Fluminense that gets our nod. The rivalry between the two was born in October 1911 when a group of disaffected players left Fluminense and pitched up at Flamengo sports club which, at the time, had no football department. The first-ever contest between the two took place the following year with Fluminense emerging 3-2 victors in front of 800 people. In the years that followed the clash would become a national and international spectacle with tens of thousands crammed into a packed Maracana to watch a contest that is as vibrant on the terraces as it is on the pitch.

7. Galatasaray v Fenerbahce (Istanbul)

Turkey's two most successful clubs engage in an enthralling and heart-thumping derby, with some fans regarding the result of the meeting more important than their final Super Lig standing. It is suggested Fenerbahce, situated on the Asian side of the Istanbul Strait, were primarily supported by the working class with Galatasaray followed by the affluent. It is reported that in 1934 the first friendly match between the pair took place and was abandoned as riots broke out. An unforgettable incident in the clubs' histories centres around Graeme Souness' somewhat exuberant decision to plant a large Galatasaray flag in the middle of the Fener pitch after his side, Galatasaray, had won the Turkish Cup final in 1996.

6. Manchester City v Manchester United (Manchester)

When blue meets red those loyal to the sides in question tend to turn decidedly purple-faced with passion. The first league meeting between the Lancashire pair took place in the 1894/95 season and this weekend's engagement marks their 164th clash in all competitions. The Manchester derbies in the 1970s were often bad tempered affairs; on one occasion Red Devils legend George Best tackled and broke Glyn Pardoe's leg, while 2001 saw Roy Keane's infamous lunge at Alf-Inge Haaland that ultimately resulted in the Norwegian calling a premature end to his playing career. United have enjoyed unrivalled glory over the years, although City silenced the taunts from their neighbours in stunning fashion last season as they handed out an unforgettable 6-1 thrashing at Old Trafford on the way to winning their first league title for 44 years.

5. Roma v Lazio (Rome)

The Derby della Capitale is more than just a game; it's footballing war. Twice a season Lazio and Roma lock horns in the league at their home, the Stadio Olimpico and battles often ensue between the Lazio ultras in Curva Nord and the Roma ultras in Curva Sud. Violence is usually prevalent. In 1979, Lazio fan Vincenzo Paparelli died after he was hit by a flare. Paparelli is remembered to this day and is a symbol of the Biancocelesti's passion for the derby. In 2004, the encounter was abandoned after rumours spread suggesting a child had been killed by the police. The aftermath saw stands set on fire, 13 arrests and over 170 injuries. In November this year, the latest renewal of rivalry saw Lazio claim a thrilling 3-2 victory in a match which also saw two red cards... archetypal derby stuff.

4. Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal (London)

Spurs and Arsenal have played out some truly memorable North London derbies. From 1971's double-clinching triumph for Arsenal at Wembley, to Spurs' Paul Gascoigne-inspired FA Cup semi-final victory at the same stadium in 1991 that ensured their rivals would not achieve a second. Few players have made the switch from white to red and white - Sol Campbell's controversial transfer in 2001 was fraught with debate and even saw the defender receive death threats from enraged supporters. There have been numerous memorable moments between the teams in recent years; a 5-1 victory for Tottenham in the League Cup and a 4-4 draw at the Emirates which arguably gave them as much pleasure, while Arsenal have won both the last two league meetings on their patch 5-2... and who could forget lasagne-gate when the Gunners pipped their rivals to fourth spot on the final day in 2006?

3. AC Milan v Inter Milan (Milan)

Derby della Madonnina sees Italian giants Inter Milan and AC Milan go head-to-head in a contest that always captures the imagination. The rivalry is fierce, the result everything to the supporters. One of the most infamous of meetings came in 2005 when the pair were drawn against each other in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final. With Inter trailing, tempers boiled over as the fans in black and blue rained objects down onto the pitch. Milan keeper Dida was struck by a flare and the match was soon abandoned.

2. Boca Juniors v River Plate (Buenos Aires)

Superclasico; a colossal encounter that sees two clubs from Buenos Aires battle for bragging rights. The match-up is world-renowned for its devoted capacity crowds who create an unforgettable atmosphere. Football fanatics travel far and wide to witness the meeting of Argentina's two biggest sides. Riots have been plentiful, while police often have to battle violence. June 23,1968 marked a grey day for the fixture as 71 fans died at Estadio Monumental when they were crushed at gate 12. The rivalry between the pair remained thick in the air after the tragedy as an investigation found nobody guilty despite several theories behind the happenings on that summer's day. As with many fierce derby rivalries, social class also plays a part in the history of his contest with Boca Juniors said to be the club of Argentina's working class, in contrast with the supposedly upper-class support base of River Plate.

1. Celtic v Rangers (Glasgow)

The Old Firm derby between Scotland's two most successful clubs dates back to 1888. The encounter is world famous for its unrelenting commitment and tension. The atmosphere when the duo meet at either Ibrox Stadium or Celtic Park is arguably the most renowned in world football. Violence has often surrounded the clashes as supporters let their emotions get the better of them in a game that is steeped in religion, politics and differing social attitudes. In 1980, around 9,000 fans fought an on-pitch battle in the aftermath of Celtic's 1-0 victory in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden. Gers currently edge the overall match-ups with more wins over the arch enemy, but the rivalry has been put on hold, in the league at any rate, for the foreseeable future after Rangers' demotion to the fourth tier of Scottish football this summer.

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Issue 5

Love thy neighbour

The verbal sparrings of Ferguson and Mancini as the derby looms

Europe's contenders

With the group phase of this season's UEFA Champions League now concluded, we assess those clubs that have made it through to the last 16 of Europe's premier club competition.

Cooking up a storm

Joe Drabble takes a look at some of Alastair Cook's most significant innings after he became England's leading Test century-maker of all-time at Eden Gardens in India this week.


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