As football fans we all like a nice rivalry to spice things up, but have these pairings gone a little too far in their mutual hatred of each other? Probably not!
6) Brazil – Argentina
Oh boy, when these two nations meet, expect fireworks (and by fireworks I mean violence)! Even a recent Olympic meeting, which let’s face it means less than a friendly match to most football fans, resulted in seven cautions and two sendings-off. This rivalry is rich in history and is immense given the high standing of both countries in world football. In many ways it’s lucky that these two don’t meet too often in the World Cup because one would need an abacus to keep up with the foul count. The last time they did battle in the Mundial was in 1990, which led to the now infamous ‘holy water’ scandal where Brazilian star Branco accused the Argentinean staff of giving him a water bottle full of tranquilizers which he blamed for his team’s defeat, such is the incredible dislike between the South American neighbours that such an act could well have taken place!
5) Feyenoord – Ajax
Many consider the Dutch to be a peace-loving nation and believe that the rather liberal attitude to sex and drugs in Holland would prevent there being anything resembling hooliganism amongst the football-loving public. They are wrong – very wrong! To say these two Eredivisie clubs don’t get on would be an understatement. When the two sides come face to face it normally ends in violence, both on and off the field. These battles have on occasions mixed players with supporters as the likes of Robin van Persie have had close run-ins with the opposing fans in the past.
4) Arsenal – Spurs
This north London derby is an eagerly-anticipated fixture, with fans and players alike looking for it first when the fixtures are released. In recent years Arsenal have dominated proceedings but no doubt Tottenham fans will be pleased with their recent acquisitions, even though they do of course sit bottom of the Premier League. Defeat in this one must be hard to bare and it must feel like hell to face work colleagues of the opposite persuasion after a defeat at the hands of the local enemy. Better to just take the week off if that’s the case!
3) Liverpool – Manchester United
This lovely pairing do not get on… at all! The hatred between these two clubs trumps quite easily the clubs’ meetings with their city rivals. Movement of players between the two teams would in many ways be akin to suicide. Rafa was able to win this contest just last weekend and, in doing so, further establish the cult status he enjoys at Anfield. The rivalry between the two clubs is considered in many ways the last target that Sir Alex is aiming to conquer as United boss, as the Scot is attempting to overhaul the Merseyside outfit’s league title count. Wisely, this game tends to be an early kick-off so as to prevent fans from having too much to drink beforehand and therefore becoming even less enamoured with one another!
2) Real Madrid – Barcelona
These clubs detest each other. If you are crazy enough to move from one to the other then prepare to have a large pig’s head thrown at you from the stands (Luis Figo has learned this lesson the hard way). Aside from the obvious geographical and political issues that separate these two La Liga sides, on purely footballing terms the level of hatred is visible on the pitch and in the stands. A defeat in the El Clasico can often lead to a manager losing his job and, given the dominance of the top two (20 of the last 24 titles have gone to either of these two giants), a defeat in either of the clubs’ seasonal league meetings can often lead to losing the title.
1) Celtic – Rangers
In my view the most volatile footballing rivalry on planet Earth (and possibly the whole known universe) takes place in Glasgow between Old Firm sides Celtic and Rangers. If you’re a betting man you should always look to place a bet on the amount of yellow and red cards shown because the players on show are not shy in the tackle when they go head to head. Obviously these two clubs have similar issues to those illustrated in El Clasico, with the added powder keg of religion thrown in for good measure. The team which manages the better record in this SPL derby over the season can pretty much be guaranteed the title given the vast superiority these two have over the rest of their Scottish counterparts. It’s not a match-up for the faint-hearted as it’s played at 100 miles an hour and only pauses for breath when the referee is called upon to pick up the pieces!