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Photo: Howard Lake

Nothing gets sports fans worked up like a good, old-fashioned rivalry. These five derbies are among the world’s greatest.

Photo: jmerelo

1. El Clasico

Since 1929, this annual match between Barcelona and Real Madrid has been one of the highlight’s of La Liga’s season. During Franco’s dictatorship, the match had a political aspect to it, as Barcelona represented Catalan dissent against the government.

Since the restoration of democracy, the classic has continued to enthrall fans in Spain, where it is arguably more important than the World Cup.

2. Crosstown Classic

An annual series between Chicago’s two Major League Baseball teams, the south side White Sox and the north side Cubs. The most notable classic in recent years occurred in 2008, when the Cubs and White Sox met as the first place teams in their respective divisions.

3. State of Origin

The “Super Bowl” of Australian rugby league, the State of Origin is an annual best-of-three series contested between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues, with players assigned to teams based on where they spent their junior careers.

The series, which dates back to 1982, is one of the most-watched sporting events in Australia.

4. América de Cali vs. Deportivo Cali

Many soccer teams have hooligan firms, but América and Deportivo’s series in Cali, Colombia goes a step further. Both teams had ties to Colombian drug cartels, and América remains on a US government blacklist. Still, the annual meetings between the clubs are some of the most energetic in South America.

5. Liverpool vs. Manchester United

Much like El Clásico, the annual meetings between Liverpool and Manchester United are as much a regional competition as a club one. As it features two of the most high-profile clubs in the world, the derby attracts fans from around Britain and beyond.

Community Connection

Think your hometown team’s rivalry should have made the list? Make your case in the comments section!

Team Sports


About The Author

Adam Roy

Chicago native Adam Roy is the former-Editor of Matador Sports and an aspiring renaissance man to boot. For more of Adam's writing, check out his blog at Ill-Advised Adventures.

  • ross

    Great article. i would add Argentina’s super-clasico: River vs. Boca. I was there and slightly scared for my life. Can’t wait to do it again.

  • Rob

    Adam -
    Of course the Windy City Series made the list. And I’m especially happy that you didn’t include the ESPN comercialized Yanks-Other Sox.
    - R

  • Ryan Kearney

    You’re from Chicago, so I understand the bias, but no objective baseball fan in America would say that Cubs-Sox is more of a “grudge match” than Yanks-Sox (whether it’s “ESPN commercialized” or not). The Chitown teams have only been playing against each other for 12 years—when interleague play, baseball’s misguided attempt at a post-strike resurgence, began. There is absolutely no history between the two teams besides their shared city. The Sox and Yanks, meanwhile, have been at since… well, since forever.

    You do get points, however, for the Cali nod.

  • K.A.Anderson

    Great Article. I love watching the Origin. Those Blues just never seem to win :)

  • Ali Mclauchlan

    Technically a Derby can only be two teams from the same city alike Rangers vs Celtic in Glasgow or the two Milan teams.  So Liverpool vs United and the Classico aren’t derbies

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