Top derbies in football: Ranking the top 6 derbies

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Football gets more entertaining due to rivalries and derbies. There are some top derbies in football and fans of participating teams are always eager to catch a glimpse of such games. In the past, most derbies used to be fierce; there would be reports of spectator fights and even deaths. On field, you would have players fighting, with some getting serious injuries. However, things are more contained now, and football derbies are no longer as fierce as they used to be.

Why are rivalries and derbies important in football?

Derbies play a significant role in football for many reasons:


Despite its competitive nature, derbies bring fans of opposing sides together to enjoy the beautiful game. Football derbies foster a sense of togetherness among the teams’ fans. The chants and shared experiences that go along with these games forge close bonds among fans, building a feeling of cohesion and shared purpose.

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Football derbies frequently include the most eagerly anticipated games. The fierce rivalries inspire people and draw attention from around the world. The media attention, match preparation, and post-match analysis all add to the spectacle of these contests.

Passion and Bragging rights

Fans’ love and dedication for derbies is unmatched. These games become a source of pride and identity for the fans, who give their all to support their own teams. Rivalries among fans are stoked by the bragging rights that come with beating a rival team, which energizes the atmosphere both inside and outside the stadium.

Historical significance

Numerous football derbies have a rich historical background. They frequently result from elements like close proximity, cultural contrasts, or historical conflicts. The contests take on deeper importance as a result of these historical components, elevating them above simple sporting occasions. The emotional tension and rivalries between clubs are heightened by tradition and previous meetings.

What are the 6 top derbies in football?

  • Superclásico (Boca Juniors vs. River Plate)
  • Derby della Madonnina (Inter Milan vs. A.C. Milan)
  • Manchester Derby (Manchester United vs. Manchester City)
  • North London Derby (Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur)
  • North-West Derby (Liverpool vs. Manchester United)
  • El Clásico (Barcelona vs. Real Madrid)

6. Superclásico (Boca Juniors vs. River Plate)

Superclásico is a highly anticipated football game between Boca Juniors and River Plate, two bitter rivals situated in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This contest, which is regarded as one of the fiercest and most significant derbies in the world, is of enormous historical and cultural value.

The rivalry began in the early 20th century when both teams had their beginnings in La Boca’s working-class neighborhood. Later, River Plate relocated to the upscale neighborhood of Núñez, creating a disparity among fan bases. River Plate represents the wealthy class, whereas Boca Juniors represents the working class.

It has featured legendary players over the years and is distinguished by remarkable crucial moments. The rivalry has seen memorable games and stunning scores, with most recent being a 5-0 victory for Boca Juniors in the Torneo Pentagonal de Verano. Diego Maradona, Juan Román Riquelme, Ariel Ortega, and Alfredo Di Stéfano, among other legendary players, have all graced this match, leaving an imprint on the history of the rivalry.

5. Derby della Madonnina (Inter Milan vs. A.C. Milan)

A.C. Milan and Inter Milan’s Derby della Madonnina is one of Italian football’s most renowned and hotly contested rivalries. The rivalry, which has been going on for more than a century, has seen both sides dominate and achieve incredible success in Italian football.

The derby has served as a venue for magnificent displays of talent and emotion, from Clarence Seedorf’s dramatic equalizer in the 2003 Champions League quarterfinal to Esteban Cambiasso’s spellbinding team goal in 2005. Giuseppe Meazza, Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, and Andriy Shevchenko are just a few of the legendary players whose names have been inscribed in the history of the rivalry and who epitomize the passion and caliber that distinguish the Milan derby. Shenvchenko remains the derby’s top scorer with 14 goals.

4. Manchester Derby (Manchester United vs. Manchester City)

The rivalry is one of the most intense in world football, and the matches are always closely contested. This derby is undoubtedly the most watched in England.

The first Manchester derby that was played dates back to the early 1880s; Manchester United has recorded more victories over Manchester City. In recent times, City has gained more momentum over their neighbours, defeating them twice in three games this season. The Manchester derby is often a high-scoring affair, with both teams having a reputation for attacking football.

The most notable moment of the Manchester derby is Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick against City in 2011. This season’s 6-3 thrashing of United can also be recognised as a memorable moment when two City players scored a hat-trick. The likes of Vincent Kompany (City), Tevez, Rooney Giggs, Scholes, Beckham and others have left their mark in this derby. Wayne Rooney remains the derby’s all-time top scorer with 11 goals.

3. North London Derby (Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur)

The North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is a fierce rivalry that dates back to the early 1900s. This matchup, which is renowned for its hostile atmosphere and fervent fan culture, symbolizes the struggle for dominance in North London. Both teams have a distinguished history and a common desire to rule the local football scene, which fuels the rivalry’s historical relevance.

This rivalry has produced renowned players who have made their stamp on the derby over the years, as well as significant occasions in time. One of the best moments in the history of the derby is undoubtedly Thierry Henry’s famous solo goal and celebration in 2002 at Highbury. This storied rivalry has been forever changed by legendary players like Henry, Tony Adams, and Patrick Vieira for Arsenal and Paul Gascoigne, Clive Allen, and Robbie Keane for Tottenham Hotspur.

This storied rivalry has been forever changed by legendary players like Henry, Tony Adams, and Patrick Vieira for Arsenal and Paul Gascoigne, Clive Allen, and Robbie Keane for Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Kane is now the highest goalscorer in the North London derby with 14 goals.

2. North-West Derby (Liverpool vs. Manchester United)

This long-standing rivalry began in the late 19th century, when both clubs made their marks as dominant forces in the sport. Liverpool and Manchester United, who are only 34 miles apart, have fought for dominance, not only in the North-West, but the whole of England. A collision of footballing mindsets will be on display in the derby between Manchester United and Liverpool, with the former being known for its domination and never-say-die attitude and the latter for its aggressive style of play and extensive history of success.

This season, Liverpool recorded a memorable win over their rivals, securing a 7-0 win over them at Anfield. It has mostly being decorated with goals and has had the likes of Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo and others make their mark in the derby. Mohamed Salah is the all-time top scorer in the North-West derby with a total of 12 goals in 12 games.

1. El Clásico (Barcelona vs. Real Madrid)

The El Clásico is undoubtedly the best derby in the world; it is also one of the fiercest. This derby was on a whole new level when Barcelona had Lionel Messi and Real Madrid had Cristiano Ronaldo. Before, it was characterized by a fierce battle between the two sides that often resulted into heated fights on the pitch.

The Clásico has so many memorable moments that would be difficult to list them all but with every Clásico that had Ronaldo and Messi playing in them, it was something else. Generally, Real Madrid has a higher win over their rivals but Barcelona was mainly dominant over them in the last decade.

Lionel Messi has recorded more goals in the El Clásico than any other player, 26. However, in the top 10 scorers in the derby, 7 of them came from Madrid players.

Other top derbies in football not listed above include the North-West London derby (Arsenal vs Chelsea/Tottenham vs Chelsea), the Old Firm Derby (Rangers vs. Celtic), The Merseyside Derby (Liverpool vs Everton). You can leave yours in the comment section.

READ ALSO: Teams that have qualified for the 2023 AFCON

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