After searching for the top 40 greatest football stadiums in the world, now going for the top 50 biggest football derbies in the world. These are the matches which will be put in the agenda first. The clash of the year. Winning or loosing can make or break the season. Derbies have their own laws, where the teams are on the table doesn’t matter. Usually the foundation of an intense rivalry. The battle will take place on the pitch, but more on the stands and outside the stadium. This will be your new bucket list when it comes to football.
I was triggered by the British football magazine FourFourTwo. They presented their top 50 biggest football derbies this year. They only used club teams for their list and they were only allowed one rival. There is something to be said for that perspective, but where do you draw the line? I am missing a couple of big derby’s in their list.
Origin of derbies
Finding an answer to that question is difficult. The origin of the football derby is not certain. People say it comes from Ahstown. in Derbyshire, England. Since the 12th century they play “hugball” with two teams from each side of the river. Also know as the Royal Shrovetide Football Match. That ‘us versus them’ mentality is seen as the basis for how we experience derby days today.
An other explanation is found in Liverpool. Stanley Park, which separates Liverpool FC from Everton FC, was owned by the Earl of Derby. One of the first occasions the term ‘local derby’ was used in printed media, was in the Daily Express in 1914. They were describing the match between The Reds and The Toffees. Others say this story is not true, as the Earl of Derby only named horse races a ‘Derby’.
What is a football derby?
This might be the longest discussion in football history. What is definition of a football derby? If we stay in England – where football has its roots – the website of the Premier League tells me that a derby is a match between two local rivals. The clubs must be located in the same city or region. They give the Merseyside Derby (Liverpool v Everton) and the Tyne and Wear Derby (Newcastle v Sunderland) as examples.
But that will not end the discussion. What counts as the same region? That might differ per country. One of the biggest UK rivalries is Liverpool v Manchester United called the North-West Derby. Both clubs have a serious rival in their own city, but the hating each other seems to be more important. A rivalry which knows its origin before football even existed.
According to FourFourTwo also classics like El Classico (Real Madrid v Barcelona) or Le Classique (PSG v Olympique Marseille) belong to the biggest football derbies in the world. Well I strongly disagree. These matches are purely named a derby because of the rivalry, not because they are from the same city or region.
The most plausible explanation of a football derby is that both clubs must be from the same city or region (province) and there must be a serious rivalry between the two sides. That is my basis for the search of the top 50 biggest football derbies in the world. This means we eliminate a number of matches from there FourFourTwo list and my research is not limited to one rival per club. Football clubs definitely can have more than one arch rival.
Vote for the 50 biggest football derbies
I have made a pre-selection of 75 football derbies around the globe. You can vote for your top 5. If your favorite derby isn’t in the list, add yours at the bottom. Note that I am looking for the biggest derbies when it comes to rivalry, history, intensity and reputation.
NOTE: Only serious adds will be allowed. Others will be removed. Check the entire list if your derby is there before adding a new one. Double entries will be removed. The list is a drop down multiple choice list.