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Four Unbeatable Rivalries from around the World

September 07, 2015

- Grant Whittington

Nothing beats a rivalry. They’re the lifeblood of domestic football, whether you consider the passion of the South American leagues or the blood and thunder of the EPL. While the ferocious rivalries that define big matches can often spill over into over exuberance and bad behaviour both on and off the pitch, they add a different dimension to professional football and provide a seasonal highlight for fans near and far.

We take a look at four hotly contested matches that spill bad blood, touchline clashes, and quite often a bit of football too…

Rangers vs. Celtic (Scotland)

The seminal world derby, Rangers vs. Celtic is more than just a football game. This is a rivalry that transcends sport and evokes old religious tensions, with Rangers predominantly a Protestant club and Celtic boasting a Catholic heritage. Although the multi-cultural nature of modern football means that the tribal nature of this fixture is no more, it is still arguably the most passionate and hard fought derby match in the world.

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona (Spain)

(Image URL: http://img.bleacherreport.net/img/slides/photos/003/581/241/hi-res-f5b638ccfc33e6fdc2ed742825ca2d72_crop_north.jpg?w=630&h=420&q=75)

While this fixture (otherwise known as El Clasico) is perhaps the most glamourous in world football, it is also played on a knife-edge thanks to tension and rivalry between the fans. Although this is not a local derby, it is similar to the rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool, in the clubs have often competed against one another for success in Spain. With other political and social factors also at play, this remains one of the most keenly contested rivalries in world football.

Liverpool v Manchester United (England)

(Image URL: http://static.ibnlive.in.com/pix/slideshow/02-2012/manchester-united-vs/suarezandevra_celebrationatoldtrafford_ap_630.jpg)

While Everton fans will hate this suggestion, the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United far exceeds anything that exists with the former’s Merseyside neighbours. With 38 league titles and 8 European Cup successes between them, these teams have competed at the top of the domestic and continental game for decades while both clubs have trodden the fine line between glory and tragedy in their illustrious histories. The rivalry has also reached new heights recently, after a race row between Patrice Evra and Liverpool’s former striker Luis Suarez.

Aston Villa v Birmingham (England)

(Image URL: http://www3.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Craig+Gardener+Aston+Villa+v+Birmingham+City+zBiw6VOTFOEl.jpg)

Although this is not the world’s most famous derby, England’s second city rivalry is long-standing and gripping in equal measure. Intensified by the close proximity of the two clubs, the only issue to have cooled tensions between the these clubs is the fact that Birmingham are currently playing in a lower division to their neighbours. When the clubs do meet there are usually fireworks, however, as the scarcely believable meeting (below) in 2002 proves!

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