The 9 Biggest European Football Fixtures
Traditional rivalries between clubs bring colour and tribalism to football. The biggest fixtures in the European game are built on legacy, historical grudges and local animosity. Here’s a run-down of the nine most intense fixtures in European football.
Paris Saint-Germain vs Olympique de Marseille - Le Classique
For all the ferocity surrounding this fixture, the rivalry is relatively new but it simmers with resentment and the pursuit of success. It wasn’t until the late 1980s when PSG won their first title that the animosity exploded.
Marseille had been French football’s dominant force until that point, but by 1993 Les Phocéens found themselves dumped in Ligue 2 after a match-fixing scandal. The hatred has seethed ever since as PSG have continued to thwart Marseille’s attempts to return to the top.
Clashes between supporters have continued to intensify and the clubs' 2-2 draw in October 2017 was notable for the fact Brazilian superstar Neymar was relentlessly pelted with objects from the Marseille fans.
Le Classique Record
Total Games - 94 PSG Wins - 40 Draws - 22 Marseille Wins - 32
Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke - The Revierderby
The derby of Germany’s Ruhr region remains the country’s biggest rivalry despite the match between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich attracting much attention in recent years.
The Ruhr rivalry often encapsulates the best of the Bundesliga. The two big-hitters from western Germany’s industrial heartland fight for local pride and identity. Last season’s 4-4 draw at Dortmund is considered one of the finest in the fixture’s history.
The Revierderby Record
Total Games - 136 Borussia Dortmund wins - 40 Draws - 41 Schalke Wins - 45
AC Milan vs Inter Milan - Derby della Madonnina
The Milan derby is a rivalry which goes beyond city conflict. This is a contest which has sporting prowess at its core and a historical pursuit of silverware. The pair have taken it in turns to enjoy dominance and cycle through meltdown and resurgence.
In the past decade, the spoils have been largely shared with Inter winning 10 clashes and AC Milan triumphant in 8. Neither club have seriously challenged for the Serie A title in recent years meaning the derby has taken on even greater significance. The fans of Milan and Inter have truly taken over the spectacle with frenzied passion, noise and colour filling the stands of the San Siro.
Derby della Madonnina Record
Total Games - 221 AC Milan Wins - 76 Draws - 67 Inter Milan Wins - 78
Roma vs Lazio - Derby della Capitale
Rivalry in Rome runs deep. The ferocity between these two sides dates back to 1927 when three of the Italian capital’s football clubs were merged to form AS Roma. The move was at the behest of Fascist dictator Mussolini with the aim of building a single representative from the city to challenge the supremacy of the northern Italian teams.
Lazio refused to amalgamate with the other clubs and the animosity was born. Supporters of Roma consider their counterparts as outsiders while Lazio fans insist they were formed in the city first. Violence and riots have marred the Derby della Capitale down the years as have nods to fascism and racism. It’s a fierce spectacle but unique in world football.
The truth of it, is that the northern teams like Juventus, AC Milan and Inter still dominate Italian football whilst the Roman pair continue to pick fights with each other.
Derby della Capitale Record
Total Games - 186 Roma Wins - 70 Draws - 64 Lazio Wins - 52
Ajax vs Feyenoord - De Klassieker
Dutch football’s biggest rivalry, the game between Ajax and Feyenoord is built upon class and civic pride. The two clubs are separated by 70 kilometres but the chasm between ideology, identity and politics defines this clash.
Feyenoord followers from the port of Rotterdam view themselves as working class football fans while Ajax supporters from Amsterdam consider themselves a cut above.
Fixtures have been marred by running battles, firebombs and trouble, and while Ajax have won more domestic honours, Feyenoord resolutely defend their position as Holland’s authentic ‘club of the people’.
De Klassieker Record
Total Games - 190 Ajax Wins - 84 Draws - 48 Feyenoord Wins - 58
Benfica vs Porto - O Clássico
The rivalry between Benfica and Porto has intensified in recent years with the gradual demise of the other member of Portugal’s ‘big three’, Sporting Lisbon. Like all the best footballing conflicts, this one has deep cultural roots.
Porto is a historically working-class industrial city while Lisbon, from where Benfica hail, is a cosmopolitan, glamorous capital. The pair are the dominant powers in Portuguese football and between them have been crowned champions in every year bar one since the turn of the millennium.
Benfica haven’t beaten Porto since 2014, a streak which has become a serious bragging right.
O Classico Record
Total Games - 168 Benfica Wins - 55 Draws - 47 Porto Wins - 66
Real Madrid vs Barcelona - El Clásico
The two best sides in world football clash twice-yearly in La Liga to produce one of the most eagerly anticipated and viewed matches on the planet. The rivalry is multi-layered and extends beyond silverware domination. It’s a cocktail of sport and politics and recent years have pitted the world’s two greatest players – Messi and Ronaldo – up against each other.
Real Madrid are often viewed as representing Spanish nationalism while Barcelona embody the Catalan struggle for independence. This is theatre, this is opera. There is no bigger match in the world but there’s rarely huge numbers of away fans which lessens the game as an overall spectacle.
El Clasico Record
Total Games - 271 Real Madrid Wins - 99 Draws - 60 Barcelona Wins - 112
Celtic vs Rangers - The Old Firm Derby
The rivalry between Scotland’s two giant clubs is fierce and complex. Celtic and Rangers have battled for supremacy for over 100 years.
Following the formation of the two clubs, there began a general alignment of mainly Catholic support for Celtic and the Protestant community following Rangers. This is a divide based on religion and heritage.
Far from fizzling out because of the gap between the two clubs in recent years, the Old Firm rivalry remains as intense as ever. Rangers haven’t beaten Celtic in the league since 2012 and the grudge continues to fester.
Old Firm Derby Record
Total Games - 413 Celtic Wins - 155 Draws - 99 Rangers Wins - 149
Fenerbache v Galatasaray - The Intercontinental Derby
The great Istanbul rivalry is more than a century in existence and is one of the most bitter and intense derbies in the world. This fixture has unique origins and has often been marred by violence and hooliganism.
Galatasaray were formed as a club of the elite, based at a prestigious high school. Fenerbahce on the other hand were formed by locals and have long prided themselves as a club of the people. The Istanbul clubs are from different sides of the Bosphorus River and are from different continents. Galatasaray are from Europe, Fenerbahce are in Asia.
It all makes for an intense fixture and the animosity between the pair reached a low point in 2013 when a young Fener fan was stabbed and killed by a Galatasaray supporter.
Intercontinental Derby Record
Total Games - 387 Fenerbache Wins - 146 Draws - 118 Galatasary Wins - 123
Bet UK will be covering all of these games, as well as European Football throughout the season. You can check out the betting odds for all european football matches this year at Bet UK's online sportsbook.
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