el clasico graphic

In European football, every game is important in its own right, and every game is exciting for its own reason. For fans of specific clubs, there are certain games that mean that little bit more than the rest. These are typically derby games and rivalries between their own club and a club they have issues or feuds with. 

In this list, we will look at 10 of the most influential and well-known derby games that take place each year in European football competitions. From the Spanish titan clash to the longest running derby in the world, these rivalries and duels are all games to mark in your calendar each season and definitely not ones to miss.

El Clásico

During each season of the Spanish top flight, there is a double-sided fixture that is highly anticipated not only by local fans but by global sports bettors and sports lovers. This rivalry is known as El Clásico, or ‘The Classic’ and is a head to head battle between two of Spain’s biggest football clubs. Due to the two clubs being so powerful within La Liga as well as European competitions, the rivalry is fierce, and both sides of the fixture are strongly contested by players and fans alike. 

Real Madrid and Barcelona battle it out twice a season, and these two fixtures typically bring one team crumbling down in the league table. As of July 28th, 2023, there have been 295 El Clásico matches played, with Real Madrid winning 108, Barcelona winning 123, and 64 of them ending in a draw. They actually play an El Clásico match on July 29th, and we at Balls Out Bet predict that Real Madrid will win it, as well as topping the La Liga table.

Derby della Madonnina

Heading over to the Serie A, the biggest clash each season is the Derby della Madonnina. Not only is this rivalry huge because of the strength of both sides and the records behind them, but up until now, they have shared a stadium! The San Siro is one of the most recognisable stadiums in Italian football and around the world, but both AC Milan and Inter Milan play their home games in this stadium.

With Inter Milan and their rivals constantly battling it out to sit at the top of the Serie A table, a constant fight between the two clubs ensues. The first instalment of the Derby della Madonnina was played in 1909, and saw AC Milan win 3-2 over their rivals. Throughout the years, just looking at the matches played in the Serie A, there have been 178 with Inter winning 68, AC Milan winning 54, and 56 ending in draws.

The North West Derby

In English football, some of the fiercest rivalries ensure each season. Arguably the most infamous of these rivalries is the ongoing scrap between Liverpool and Manchester United, a battle that has been raging on since 1894. Anfield and Old Trafford are two of the most iconic and challenging stadiums in the world of football, regardless of whether the clubs travelling to them are Premier League or not – both Liverpool and Manchester United are vicious squads with immense quality.

The rivalry between these two clubs dates back to before the modern Prem table even existed. So far, as of July 2023, there have been 211 meetings in the North West Derby, with Liverpool winning 71, Manchester United winning 82, and 58 ending in a draw. The most recent instalment ended in a 7-0 victory for Liverpool, the largest win out of any of the 211 meetings.

Der Klassiker

The Bundesliga is the next league we travel to for a fierce rivalry, where Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich come head to head for the Der Klassiker derby. The first meeting between these two German football powerhouses took place in 1965 and saw Dortmund take the win. 

The biggest Der Klassiker game was held in 1971, and saw Bayern Munich beat their rivals a whopping 11-1. The rivalry got a lot more fierce during the 1990s, as both of the clubs started dominating in German and European competitions. In the last 29 instalments of the Bundesliga, Dortmund and Munich have won 25 of them, and we expect one of the two will top the Bundesliga table at the end of 2023/24 as well.

Le Classique

Over to the land of French football now, and league dominant PSG display their ongoing feud with Marseille. Having begun in the 1971/72 season, Le Classique is a battle between two of France’s biggest football clubs. While Marseille are not as dominant in current times, they still pose a threat to other teams within the league.

The first instalment ended in a 4-2 victory for Marseille, although we think that the modern day feud would more easily go in PSG’s favour. As of July, they have played 105 fixtures of Le Classique, with PSG winning 48, Marseille winning 34, and 23 ending in draws. PSG continue to storm the Ligue 1 table year and year again, but this fixture is one to look out for.

Manchester Derby (Manchester United vs Manchester City)

Turning back to England, Manchester United make another entry on this list, this time for their local Manchester-based derby with rivals Manchester City. This rivalry has become more fierce in recent years as Manchester City have started to dominate in domestic and European competitions, most recently winning their first UEFA Champions League as part of their official treble.

This local rivalry dates back to 1881, making it one of the longest running rivalries in English football. They play fixtures in various competitions, including the Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Trophy, and potentially even the Champions League if it came down to the two in the final. The first game ended in a 3-0 win for Manchester United, then referred to as Newton Heath LYR.

The Old Firm

While the Scottish Premiership is far from being a top division, it is arguably more watched than other European leagues. There is never real competition within the Scottish leagues of football; either Rangers of Celtic dominate in cups and league games. This, in turn, means that the two end up in a fierce battle each year to see who can reign victorious.

Both clubs are Glasgow-based, and have been playing the Old Firm derby since 1888 with a game that ended in a 5-2 victory for Celtic. In recent years, Celtic have dominated all competitions in Scotland, although Rangers hold them to good results in the derby each time.

The Eternal Derby

Moving out of the top 5 leagues and heading across to Serbia, the Eternal Derby is one of the most aggressive battles in world football. The derby is held between two rival teams situated in the capital of Serbia, in Belgrade, and the locality of the clubs started an instant hatred. It is known as one of Europe’s “most bitter rivalries” and has caused historic divides in the country as a whole.

This rivalry is so fierce that it flows into other sports, with basketball having some stark contests between the two sides, too. 

The Istanbul Derby

The aptly-named Istanbul Derby is a rivalry between Turkish clubs Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe. This fixture has been played since 1909, with the first instalment seeing Galatasaray win 2-0. For the most part, Galatasaray have been the more successful club, although results can go either way depending on the teams at the time. there

The Superclásico

Since 1913, the least length rivalry on this list has been played. Over in Argentina, the two most dominant teams in Boca Juniors and River Plate come head to head each year with one goal in mind; win. The Superclásico is widely regarded as one of the fiercest and most pivotal derbies in world football,  The history behind the rivalry cuts very deep, with one of the main tragic events occuring after a 1968, 0-0 instalment. Following this game, 71 fans were killed in a tragic event, with another 150 left injured after a gate crashed down.