The Sports Archives – The Biggest Derbys in World Football


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Dynamo Moscow V Spartak Moscow 

Moscow is a massive city so it’s surprising there are several derby matches between various clubs vying for the same trophies. However, the Dynamo V Spartak derby match is by far the most meaningful and resonant for fans. It won’t surprise you either, that there’s a political dimension. 

Spartak Moscow was formed in 1922 by trade unionists and soon gained a rival in Dynamo who reformed a year later. While Spartak have become the club of dissent, historically leaning on the Starostin brothers arrested by Stalin, Dynamo represents the political establishment. 

Ajax V Feyenoord

Like many of the biggest Derbies in world football Ajax V Feyenoord is a rivalry with deeper cultural roots. Ajax represents Amsterdam, a city that is classy, artsy, and liberal, while Feyenoord is more gritty and industrial, it is also increasingly right wing. 

As well as the build up of cultural resentment between the two clubs, there are also footballing reasons for the standoff. Both Ajax and Feyanoord are successful trophy laden clubs in the Dutch league and fight for every title to get one up on their intercity rivals – this is one Derby spectacle machine-made football predictions never misses. 

Celtic V Rangers

The Celtic V Rangers Derby matches are one of the highlights of the Scottish football season and the nature of the Scottish league means they are almost always pivotal. But the rivalry runs deeper than two of the country’s top teams from the same city going head to head for the title.

Unfortunately, there is a significant sectarian undercurrent to the rivalry that has historical and cultural roots. Glasgow Celtic was founded in 1888 to help the city’s growing Catholic population and Rangers became more entrenched in Presbyterianism. This makes it one of the most contentious football rivalries. 

Liverpool V Manchester United 

Both of these leading English Premier League sides have their own Derby matches; that is, sides in the same city and the same league they play against a couple of times a season. However, if you ask most fans they will tell you who the real rival is.

Liverpool and Manchester United are two of the most successful clubs in English football, which is possibly why such an intense rivalry exists between them. This is another Derby match that goes well beyond the importance of a mere three points, it’s an emotional affair that lives on in hearts and minds.

Lazio V Roma

While the big teams of northern Italy hoover up the trophies, the teams in the south have more of the fun. As Paolo Di Canio puts it, only the Derby between Celtic and Rangers compares to the one between Lazio and Roma. 

The Italian personality, witty and ironic, is well suited to football fandom and is in full flow in the bars and piazzas of Rome in the build up to the big game. It’s fair to say the fans of these teams care more about winning these games than they do about trophies and titles. 

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