Greatest Soccer Rivalries

Some of the most obscure clubs names in the game have devoted supporters who uphold intense and long-lasting rivalries.

Roma ultras waving flags Lazio ultras with smoke bombs

AS Roma vs Lazio

In 1977, smaller groups of Roma fans assembled in what became known as CUCS or Commando Ultra Curva Sud. By the 2000 season, CUCS has evolved into Roma Ultras. Lazio’s organized supporters, Commandos Monteverde Lazio came about in 1971. By 1987 they united with another group, from which emerged the Irriducibili. The Irriducibili have been the most prominent Lazio supporters group since 1992. Generally, Roma Ultras represent the left wing middle class from the center of the city. In contrast, the Irriducibili are rich, right wing suburban residents. Both Lazio and AS Roma share the same home stadium, Stadio Olimpico which serves as a stage for the inter-city battle.

Manchester City vs Manchester United

City and United have preserved one of the oldest rivalries in European football. Both clubs were founded in the late 19th century. Even although United has been more prevalent, it is often exciting when the two sides meet. The 1993 encounter between City and United at Maine Road is considered one of the greatest EPL games of the 1990s.
The Stretford End at Old Trafford is the place for diehard K-Stand United fans. Manchester City also has its zealous fan base. During the 2002 season, 106 City fans were arrested which is the third highest number in all of England.

Inter ultras unrolling a large banner Milan ultras throwing garlands

AC Milan vs Inter

Both AC Milan and FC Internazionale play their home matches at San Siro Stadium. The Curva Sud is home of the Rossoneri and the Curva Nord belongs to the Nerazzurri. Both clubs have had success in Italy as well as in European competition.

Redstar fans Partizan fans

Partizan vs Red Star

The derby of Belgrade is between Partizan and Red Star. Red Star has been more pronounced internationally as the 1991 European and World club champion. The Grobari (Undertakers) and Delije supporters get into severe conflicts. Many of these happen at the stadium and may feature anything from fights in the stands to riots on the pitch.

Levski fans CSKA fans

Levski vs CSKA

Bulgaria’s capital Sofia houses the country’s two top clubs: PFC Levski 1914 and CSKA. Levski is the older of the two clubs and has more supporters whereas CSKA has won more championship titles. Supporters from both sides have derogatory names for each other. Levski fans are called “Goveda” (cattle) by their rivals whereas CSKA fans are called “Chorbari” (meaning “soup-eaters”).

Celtic Rangers

FC Celtic vs Rangers

Scotland has a diverse history of football hooliganism emerging from drunken fights in the 60s, skinhead organizations in the 70s and peaking with the “Casual” phenomenon of the mid-80s. Celtic and the Rangers are often associated with violent outbreaks. The two clubs have an especially poignant rivalry (known as the Old Firm rivalry) fueled by religious and sociological differences. Celtic supporters are referred to as “Tims”. Rangers supporters call themselves Billy boys inheriting the name of an infamous Protestant razor gang from the late 1920’s. “Billy boys” actually comes from the gang’s founder Billy Fullerton.

Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Known as Superclassico or El Derby Espanol, the Barca versus Real match attracts immense attention across Spain as well as Europe. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, an ethnically independent region with its own distinct Spanish dialect. Many supporters take this derby with consideration extending beyond the football pitch.

Olympia fans Panatina fans

Olympiakos vs Panathinaikos

Olympiakos and Panathina hold the biggest rivalry in Greece. Hooliganism is common featuring anything from breaking seats, fighting, fireworks to street riots.

River Plate fans Former Boca player and fan, Maradona

Boca vs River Plate

The biggest derby in Argentina is the Boca Juniors versus River Plate match. It evokes great interest and passion across the entire country. Both clubs were founded in the poor district of Buenos Aires called La Boca. In the 1930s, River Plate relocated to an area called Nunez and is nowadays preferred by the upper classes. On the other hand, Boca has more supporters although mostly made up of working class people. They call themselves Xeneizes, meaning Genoese since Boca’s earliest supporters were Genovese immigrants.

Austria ultras Rapid ultras

Rapid vs Austria

The derby of Vienna is between SK Rapid and FK Austria. The match often transitions onto Austria’s national ground, Ernst-Happel stadium. The fans from both sides always come prepared for grand, choreographed exhibitions. On some occasions, riots break out. Austrian police takes special security measures whenever the two rivals meet. In a recent encounter between Rapid and Austria, the latter club was fined 30,000€ because of lack of security. SK Rapid on the other hand had to pay 10,000€ in compensation to their fans throwing fireworks on the pitch and delaying kick-off for half an hour.

Updated: April 7, 2017
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