Although most teams have a loyal band of supporters that help to create an exciting atmosphere at every game in which they are involved, there are certain fixtures around the world that arouse deep-seated passions in fans, taking the natural rivalry between two competing teams to a whole new level.
Barcelona and Real Madrid
Matches involving Barcelona and Real Madrid are referred to as El Clásico (The Classic) and they often live up to this name. These two teams have an intense rivalry that stretches back to the time of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, when the president of FC Barcelona was executed by Franco’s troops whilst visiting the Sierra de Guadarrama, north of Madrid. Nowadays, Barça is considered as a symbol of Catalan culture and championed by separatists in the area. This does not sit well with fans of Real, who of course play in the Spanish capital.
However, a quick history lesson will do nothing to prepare you for the gladiatorial atmosphere that you will encounter if you attend one of these matches at either the Camp Nou in Barcelona or the Bernabéu in Madrid. The enmity that is shown to opposition players by each team’s supporters is only topped by the hatred they display for any footballer who is foolish enough to leave one club for the other.
Liverpool and Manchester United
The atmosphere at Anfield and Old Trafford when these two clubs do battle may not quite match the naked enmity of El Clásico but there is no doubt that the two sets of supporters have a healthy disregard for each other that also stretches back many years. If you like to bet on football matches and regularly visit specialist sites such as the Punters Lounge to research your wagers, you may have to toss the form book aside when weighing up which one of these two teams will prevail as there is far more than just three points at stake whenever they meet.
The north west of England’s two most famous cities have dominated the top flight of English football to a certain extent since the mid-seventies, with Liverpool crowned champions nine times between 1976 and 1990 and Manchester United claiming the top spot twelve times since the old first division became the Premier League in 1992 and featuring as runners up in five of the years when they failed to claim the big prize. Overall, since the Football League was formed, Man U have won 19 titles, just one more than Liverpool.
The best of the rest
Some other famous rivalries include Ajax and Feyenoord in the Netherlands, Olympiakos and Panathinaikos in Greece, and Palmeiras and Corinthians in Brazil. As you can see from the names, many of these rivalries stem from the geographical proximity of the two clubs and they are often located in the same city. Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic was a great example of a rivalry that was both geographical and cultural although this sadly came to an end last season.
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