Looking at European Soccer Rivalries
Americans call them rivalries. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, they are called derbies (pronounced darbies). Among the most enduring European rivalries:
- Tottenham versus Arsenal: Whether the games are played at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane or Arsenal’s Highbury, it is certain that both grounds in north London will be packed for the most intense rivalry in English soccer.
- A.C. Milan versus Inter Milan: Playing at the same stadium, this one’s a natural. A.C. Milan fans boast of their 15 league titles, while Inter supporters stand behind their 13 championships.
- Barcelona versus Real Madrid: It’s not just about the two best clubs in the history of Spanish soccer. This derby pits two distinctively different cities. Real represents the traditional culture of Spain, while Barcelona is situated in Catalonian region, which has a strong separatist movement that desires independence from Spain.
- Rangers versus Celtic: It’s more than just a soccer game in Glasgow, Scotland. It’s literally religion in a rivalry that is called the “Old Firm.” Rangers’ supporters are predominantly Protestant, while Celtic’s are Catholic. Even though they play each other four times a season during the course of the 12-team Scottish Premier League, supporters of each side rarely get tired of this confrontation of the perennial Glasgow powers.
- Boca Juniors versus River Plate: The very first professional match in 1931 between these two Buenos Aires rivals set the stage for some unforgettable Argentine First Division clashes. River Plate walked off the field in protest after Boca scored the tying goal after a controversial penalty kick. Boca was awarded the victory.
- Vasco da Gama versus Flamengo: Traditionally, the games between these two Rio de Janeiro rivals are played at Maracana Stadium. Through the years, these confrontations have become more physical.
- Elsewhere in England: Another strong rivalry exists between Manchester United and Manchester City in England, although United and Liverpool, two leading clubs, have a healthy rivalry as well.
- In Germany: Bayern Munich and Munich 1860 have an ongoing rivalry between the haves and have-nots of the Bundesliga.
- In Portugal: Lisbon rivals Benfica and Sporting Lisbon have played many memorable matches in the Portuguese First Division
- In the Netherlands: Ajax and Rotterdam have a long history in the Dutch league.
- In Uruguay: Penarol and Nacional have bumped heads on numerous occasions.