In the souls of football fans, supporting the favorite team is more than just a hobby. It is a vital part of their life. It is a lifestyle!
There is no such a pleasure as triumphing over the nearest and most heated opponent in a derby. It might be a match without importance for the final ranking in a league or a cup, but a meaningless derby does not exist. This article presents a compilation of 7 football derbies that shake the Earth and take an important role in the life of their fans.
1. Superclasico: River Plate VS Boca Juniors
The “Superclasico” is a clash of the two most successful and popular clubs in Argentina. Both teams are located in Buenos Aires, both teams are found in the working class La Boca neighborhood, but River Plate moved to the wealthier Nunez area in 1925. The rivalry developed as a proxy manifestation of social pressure. Boca became known as the people’s club while River Plate’s supporters were named Los Millonarios. Presently, both clubs have fans with different social backgrounds, but the derby still keeps its essence. The most passionate Boca’s supporters call themselves ‘La Doce’ (The twelve) referring that they are the twelve player of the team. On the other side, River’s most dedicated followers are known as ‘Los Borrachos del Tablón ’ ( The drunk from the tribune).
No matter who is hosting the match, the atmosphere in the stadium is fascinating. The stadium is a tinderbox full of dancing and singing colorful songs people. The choreographies include brass music, huge flags, fireworks and a lot of paper strips. Hernan Crespo, a legend of River, once shared his memories of Superclasico: “I could feel my legs moving and couldn’t understand why. Then I realized it was the stadium that was moving with all the people bouncing above us!”
2. Derby della Capitale: SS Lazio VS AS Roma
Traditionally, the northern part of Italy is more developed in all socio-economic aspects. Of course, football is not an exception, the most successful clubs in Italy are from the North. In dissonance, the fiercest Italian derby is between the Rome’s SS Lazio and AS Roma. The story behind the rivalry derives from 1927. In order to challenge the domination of the northerners, the ruling regime of the dictator Benito Mussolini commanded a merger of the four major clubs in Rome. Three of them, Roman, Alba-Audace, and Fortitudo obeyed and created AS Roma, only SS Lazio avoided the unification and the fight for the Eternal city began.
Even though that the main argument in the derby is which is the real club of Roma. The rivalry between the fans represents a clash of political ideologies as well. The supporters of AS Roma, besides the ultras groups, are more left-oriented, while the Lazio’s fans are proud of their far-right affiliation. In general, there are a lot of differences among them and only one similarity. They all care more about winning the derby than where they finish in the league.
3. The Old Firm: Celtic VS Rangers
Celtic against Rangers is the great derby of Scotland that transforms Glasgow into a bloody battlefield. The hate between the fans derives from their origin, political and religious background.
Basically, the average Celtic fan is a Catholic and nationalist who distance themselves from being British and consider themselves as Scottish or as is the case from their large following from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, they see themselves as Irish.
On the other side, the Rangers supporters are Protestants staying behind the idea of the eternity of the United Kingdom and a victory against Celtic is another step forward to accomplish this goal.
Usually, the quality of the football in the Old Firm is not very high. But the vibe of the derby really shakes the Earth or at least the authorities in the United Kingdom.
4. The Cairo’s derby: Al Ahly VS Zamalek
In the galaxy of the football, Egypt is not among the shining stars. But it doesn’t mean that the Egyptians are not into football. On the contrary, they literally breathe football, and the local derby between Al Ahly and Zamalek is definitely amongst the fiercest in the world.
The first soccer clubs in Egypt were established during the British rule centuries ago. In fact, none of them survived a long time and Zamalek was found to represent the foreigners in the state. Day by day the team became a symbol of the Britons and the western-oriented people in general. Meanwhile, Al Ahly was created from the local students proclaiming the idea for a self-governing Egyptian republic. The hatred between the fans intensified in the middle of the last century. Supported by King Farouk, Zamalek turned into the club of the royalists and the rich people in Egypt. In 1952 the monarch lost his authority and Al Ahly made for a president the leader of the new regime, the nationalist General Nasser. Since then, from an enjoyable sports event, the derby turned into an epicenter of the conflict between representatives of different political ideals.
5. De Klassieker: Ajax VS Feyenoord
Netherland is a country of tolerance. But in the enmity between the fans of Ajax and Feyenoord, there is no room for warm feelings. The hate is literally in the air when both teams face each other.
The frantic rivalry is a consequence of the perennial competition amongst Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the largest cities in Holland. While Amsterdam is a center of art, beautiful architecture and a focal point for millions of tourists, Rotterdam is an industrial place, decorated with a huge port and plenty of cranes, and factories. The cities are divided politically as well. Amsterdam remaining liberal to socialist as Rotterdam becomes more right wing, though it has always been a labor stronghold.
From a pure football point of view undoubtedly Ajax dominates. But the clash on the tribunes always provides an unpredictable, full of passion and unique atmosphere.
6. The Intercontinental derby: Fenerbahçe SK vs Galatasaray SK
The major derby of Turkey is between both most successful teams in the country Fenerbahçe SK and Galatasaray SK. Nevertheless, from the same city, the clubs are situated in different continents due to the specific geographical location of Istanbul. Hence the fans call the match the Intercontinental derby.
In stark contrast to the peoples’ club Fenerbahçe founded by industrial workers, Galatasaray was established by the prestigious Galatasaray High School, whose students were mostly children of the wealthy class of Istanbul and most of the supporters were representatives of the Turkish elite.
The start of the competition was wrapped with benevolence and friendliness until 1934, when the game was stopped by the referee, because of the numerous rash fouls from both sides. At that moment a tragedy was avoided, but since then the encounter between them turned to an intensive, violent and tough challenge for the local authorities.
Barcelona versus Real Madrid. The biggest clubs, the biggest players, an astonishing atmosphere, fascinating goals, and unforgettable moments. The derby is the most watched in the world and a barometer for the teams how successful a season is.
Typically, football rivalries are fierce, when two teams from the same city face each other. However, when it comes to ‘El Clasico’, the demographics change considerably, as the two clubs are separated by more than 600 kilometers.
The Rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is based on the political history of Spain. Real Madrid, being from the capital, is often associated with the right-wing authoritative regime of General Franco who reigned over the country from 1936 to 1975. Meanwhile, FC Barcelona is seen more as the liberal separatist entities from Catalonia, that have stood up to the wealth and might of the center.
The Franco regime had placed emphasis on homogenizing the language, and culture of the country. The dictator had even banned the use of any language other than Castellano Spanish, which was the official language of the nation.
This did not go well with the people from the cultures different from Castellano – Catalonia and the Basque Country subsequently, FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao became bastions of resistance against the center. But during the years Barca became the major opponent for the throne of the Spanish football.
River vs Boca
Lazio vs Roma
Celtic vs Rangers
Al Ahly vs Zamalek
Ajax vs Feyenoord
Fenerbahçe SK vs Galatasaray SK
Barcelona VS Real Madrid