Football can be a fiercely competitive sport that stirs up passion in even the tamest people. This is one of the main reasons it’s so popular around the world. But it’s also one of the main reasons that fan rivalries can get seriously heated from time to time.
The large-scale rivalries between football clubs can be for any number of reasons, ranging from friendly local competition to decades-long feuds that transcend regional boundaries.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the biggest football rivalries in 2021.
Arsenal and Tottenham are based in London and have several rivals to contend with, but their rivalry supersedes all others in the area. It began in 1913 when Arsenal moved their home ground to North London, sparking a century-long feud.
Tottenham has some historic honours, but their success pales in comparison to that of Arsenal. Despite this, on the day of the North London Derby that all goes out the window and the two teams meet on equal footing.
In the 204 games in which they have faced off there is little to separate the clubs, with 84 Arsenal wins, 66 Tottenham wins, and 54 draws.
Tottenham was consistently one of the best teams in the Premier League throughout the 10s but failed to achieve any silverware and have since declined in quality. Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal was a force to rival Manchester United.
Both teams are currently in a struggle to compete with the top clubs in the league, though they still have a lot of talent in their squads with players such as Harry Kane and Aubameyang amongst their respective ranks. Harry Kane has the most goals in the North London Derby with a tally of 11.
Galatasaray Vs Fenerbahce is widely considered to be the biggest match in Turkish football. Both teams have had a lot of success within Turkey and the hatred between them runs deep.
It doesn’t take long to look at some of the famous incidents that have occurred in this fixture. For example, when Graeme Souness managed Galatasaray in 1996 he placed his club's flag in the centre of the pitch after they defeated Fenerbahce in the cup final.
This display outraged the Fenerbahce fans and caused a lot of trouble between the supporters. The date of their next meeting is yet to be decided, but it’s sure to be another huge clash.
Even those with the most basic knowledge of football will have heard of El Clásico. This is the fixture in which the two giants of world football come face to face and lay their cards on the table.
El Clasico has seen numerous world-class lineups go head to head and resulted in some of the most exciting matches of all time. Throughout the 10s, this on-field struggle was personified by two of the greatest players in the modern game: Messi and Ronaldo.
Each club has an incredible history and has fielded arguably the best teams to ever grace the pitch. Each club presents its own unique and impressive reasons to support them.
For many years, there have been cries for independence amongst Catalonians, and this has undoubtedly impacted the relationship between the two clubs.
Liverpool and Manchester United are often cited as the biggest clubs in English football. Both teams have had a huge amount of success domestically and internationally.
Combine this with the fact that the respective cities are very close to each other and you have the key ingredients to a serious rivalry.
Over the past few years, Jurgen Klopp has revitalized Liverpool into one of the powerhouses of the modern game. Playing some of the most impressive football around, they have won the Champions League and the Premier League.
In contrast, Manchester United has been struggling. Once the dominant force in English football, they have been searching for their identity since the departure of managerial legend Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.
At the moment, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is attempting to rejuvenate his team's performances after a disastrous Manchester United performance against Liverpool that resulted in a 5-0 defeat.
Could the tables turn soon? It’s hard to say. Manchester United may follow teams like Arsenal in a downward spiral, or they may find their own Jurgen Klopp.
The Superclasico is known all around the globe as one of the fiercest and most passionate rivalries in football. Some pundits claim that it’s even bigger than The Old Firm in terms of the tense battle that takes place both on the pitch and within the stands.
When these two teams face off, you simply have to see it. The roar of the crowd, the passion of the players; you can practically feel the energy emanating from the pitch.
Their last match came on 3rd October, in which River Plate won by 2 goals to nil and Boca had their player Marcos Rojo sent off.
Despite the medley of fierce rivalries featured on this list, the top spot can only go to one derby. That is of course: The Old Firm.
Celtic VS Rangers is a fixture that those with no interest in Scottish football will take time out of their day to tune into. It is a fixture littered with explosive games and interwoven into the fabric of Glaswegian culture.
The rivalry is tied into historic sectarianism between Catholics and protestants and is deeply tied to Ireland and Northern Ireland. Over the years things have become much more integrated and relaxed within the community of Glasgow, but the Old Firm is still as raucous as ever.
Tensions run high whenever the two teams face off, and it is considered dangerous to stray into the wrong area. For that day, two Scottish clubs take a central position on the world stage and battle it out for dominance.
After a decade of dominance for Celtic, Rangers have started to regain their trophy-winning form. But who will take the victory at the next Old Firm derby? Celtic next face off against Rangers on 2nd January 2022.