Home FEATURES At The Gates of Hell – Fiercest Derby Rivalries in World Football

At The Gates of Hell – Fiercest Derby Rivalries in World Football


Football is traditionally the sport of the common man. It is governed by emotions not logic. Fanaticism for this sport begun over a century ago. The common people from all walks of life flocked in phenomenal numbers to support their local teams. With passion is born competition.  And continued competition manifests into rivalries. But when two teams belong to the same town…there is always a guarantee of fireworks.  With fandom split between the people of the city, every game between the rivals becomes more than just a game. It becomes a matter of pride and an opportunity for bragging rights in the derby.

Here is what we found to be some of the fiercest derbies in world football.

#1. The Kolkata Derby

kolkata derby
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This Indian derby is played between fierce Rivals ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal FC at the Salt Lake stadium. East Bengal FC  was the product of fallout within Mohun Bagan as far back as 1920. The Vice-president Suresh Chandra Chaudhuri was furious and decided to form his own club. So a  rivalry was born. Their first-ever clash ended in a goalless draw but Mohun Bagan triumphed in the semi-final replay of the Cooch Behar cup. East Bengal however are believed to have overshadowed their rivals with 129 head to head victories as compared to Bagan’s 118.

#2.  The Battle of Istanbul

Also known as the Intercontinental Derby, this fierce rivalry between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray is one of the most exotic sights in football. Adorned by flares, fireworks, and aggression, it is a sight that every football fan dreams of witnessing someday. Fenerbahce has dominated the fixture with 144 wins compared to Galatasaray’s 122. But rivalries like these are above the shackles of results. They are an expression of human emotion in its purest form. And that will never change.

#3. The Milan Derby

This is one of the most unique European Derbies. The San Siro is home to both Inter Milan and AC Milan. The fierce rivals have been at the top of European football forever.  The rivalry was born in 1899. Inter Milan was always considered the elite club with greater financial backing. AC Milan however was the people’s favorite. The masses backed the team in red. AC Milan has been historically more successful but with the recent downfall of the Italian giants, Inter Milan has taken the opportunity to build a new and promising young team. A.C. are still recovering from the penalties faced in the Juventus scandal of 2004/05. Hopefully, someday the Rossoneri can return with the full strength of their powers.

#4. The Revier Derby

revier derby
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Known as the Derby of Derbies, this matchup between Borrusia Dortmund and Schalke is the greatest rivalry in German history. The rivalry was born in 1925 but for a long period, the fixture was dominated by Schalke. This was until the post World War 2 era. At this point, Dortmund gained a foothold and boast a superior head to head record, although not by too much. However on a grander scale of things Dortmund are now a much larger force in world football, being regulars in the knockout stages of the Champions League and second only to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. Irrespective of their position on the world stage, these two will always square up with the same passion and aggression that they always have.

#5. The Superclasico

Born in the streets of Buenos Aires and nurtured in the fields of the Estadio Monumental and the Estadio Alberto, the fiercest and greatest rivalry in world football is undoubtedly the clash of the South American giants. When River Plate takes on Boca Juniors the only guarantee is a ground-shaking atmosphere. South Americans are very passionate about football and their behavior reflects it. Brawls, foul language, theatrics, and hooliganism are part of the culture and are embraced and admired as one of the greatest atmospheres a football stadium has ever seen. South America is the Mecca of football. And this derby is the showcase of it’s greatest passions.


Derbies and rivalries make football the beautiful sport that it is. As much as football divides its fans, in the bigger picture, it brings them all together. Arguments and misunderstandings are very common. But football embodies the triumph of the human spirit. It unites people from continents across the world over one common passion. These rivalries are what create the drama and excitement in the sport. And may the drama live on forever.

Also Read: France to Dominate International Football

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