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Coral’s top 10 fiercest club football derbies around Europe

| 11.12.2016

Coral’s top 10 fiercest club football derbies in Europe

Off the ball incidents, mass brawls and other misconducts are common in matches between rivals and we cover some of the bitterest football feuds in Coral’s top 10 fiercest club football derbies around Europe.

This weekend, with Turin and Midlands derbies among the tasty tussles across Europe, it promises to be a day where all this and more might happen, as cross-city and county clashes in England and Italy will be contested tooth and nail.

Sunday sees a lunchtime showdown in England featuring Derby County and fellow Midlands men Nottingham Forest, before northern Italy hosts a bout between between Alpine outfits Torino and Juventus in the early afternoon.

Something’s got to give with Juventus rated 5/6 to triumph in Turin and Derby 7/10 to see off Forest.

So, this derby day has got Coral experts thinking which bitter battles across football are the most fierce? We’ve picked out 10 of the tastiest in European club football…

Celtic v Rangers

The Old Firm derby is one of Coral's top 10 fiercest club football derbies in Europe.

The Old Firm derby is one of Coral’s top 10 fiercest club football derbies in Europe.

One thing we’ve really missed in football in recent years is the Old Firm derby. Rangers’ relegation to the bottom tier of Scottish football has finally been put behind them with their return into the top flight, but prior to that there were nine dismissals in as many meetings across all competitions. This term there has already been an early bath from their two tussles, with former Arsenal man Philippe Senderos shown red.

Just five men have crossed Glasgow’s sectarian divide since the Second World War; Mo Johnston, Kenny Miller and Steven Pressley being the most notable. Rangers have historically had the better of this Protestant v Catholic clash. Read more about this specific derby.

Dinamo Zagreb v Hajduk Split

Croatia’s Eternal derby sees the cities of Split and Zagreb go head-to-head, with the most famous player to turn out for both being perennial Harry Redknapp purchase Niko Kranjcar. Eduardo da Silva, once of Arsenal until that horrific leg break, is among the notable scorers in this fixture.

The Maksimir, Dinamo’s stadium, is a particularly hostile cauldron as many of the Home Nations have found out when playing Croatia away in recent years. Flares and chanting are commonplace, with Zagreb largely dominant over Hajduk.

Lazio v Roma

Lazio and Roma are bitter rivals in the Italian capital.

Lazio and Roma are bitter rivals in the Italian capital.

The Derby Della Capitale in Rome has close ties to the Fascist state Italy became under Benito Mussolini. You might think time is a great healer, but in 1979 a Lazio fan was killed after being hit in the eye with a flare thrown by a Roma supporter.

Even more recently in 2004, riots in the Eternal City caused the match to be abandoned. A whopping eight red cards in the last 10 derbies show that passions run high in one of the cradles of classical civilisation. Roma icon Francesco Totti has turned out in an unparalleled 41 derbies, scoring 11 times against Lazio, who once had Paul Gascoigne on their books.

Olympiakos v Panathinaikos

Monikers for this monumental clash of Greek titans include ‘the mother of all battles’ and ‘derby of the eternal enemies’. Piraeus has served Athens as a port for millennia, but fans of both sides are far from friendly towards one another, with fire a favourite and infernal weapon.

Torches, flares and other objects are often thrown at players and coaching staff. As recently as 2012, this match had to be abandoned because of rioting which involved the lobbing of petrol bombs. Former Manchester United custodian Luke Steele has played in net for Panathinaikos in this derby.

Ajax v Feyenoord

There is always drama when Ajax and Feyenoord meet.

There is always drama when Ajax and Feyenoord meet.

Die Klassieker is contested between two of Dutch football’s three most successful club sides. Between them, Ajax and Feyenoord have won 47 top-flight titles, though it’s the Amsterdam outfit that contribute the bulk of those with 33.

Frank de Boer’s reign at Ajax was hugely successful, delivering four successive Eredivisie crowns before PSV Eindhoven roused themselves, but the Amsterdam outfit have lacked discipline when facing the Rotterdam side. Each of the last three red cards (in the previous 11 encounters) have been brandished at an Ajax player.

Notable scorers in this fixtures read like a who’s who of Dutch football. Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten are side-by-side with modern day heroes Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Dirk Kuyt. Great Dane Jon Dahl Tomasson and Finland legend Jari Litmanen are up there too, while players that have plied their trade for both clubs include Greece scoring sensation Angelos Charisteas.

Partizan Belgrade v Red Star Belgrade

There’s nothing that can touch this Belgrade battle in terms of violence. Riot police are deployed as force of habit by the Serbian authorities, and they’re armed. With the clubs’ histories tied up in the political quagmire of the former Yugoslavia, it’s no surprise to find hatred at the root of it all.

Partizan have had the better of this rivalry recently, winning three of the last four matches. Former Wigan Athletic and current Nottingham Forest goalie Vladimir Stojkovic has played for both.

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke

There's no love lost between Dortmund and Schalke.

There’s no love lost between Dortmund and Schalke.

Believe it or not, Bayern Munich aren’t Borussia Dortmund’s bitterest rivals. The Revierderby between Ruhr Valley rivals Dortmund and Schalke is more about fan reactions than ill-discipline on the field.

Very seldom do players switch between these teams, and Schalke can certainly be envious of Borussia’s recent success under enigmatic manager Jurgen Klopp, now in charge at Liverpool.

Mesut Ozil has got a reminder, even in Germany colours, that he used to play for Gelsenkirchen club Schalke when he turned out at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion. A chorus of whistles and boos welcomed the Arsenal playmaker’s every touch.

Newcastle United v Sunderland

Both of these Northeast football heavyweights have been struggling to preserve Premier League status in recent seasons – a battle the Magpies lost last term, and their Wearside enemies continue to face the prospect of a similar plight.

Special Metro trains have to be laid on to take travelling Toon Army or Black Cats supporters to either St James’ Park or the Stadium of Light as the Tyne and Wear neighbours have bad blood between them.

Newcastle last won their derby in 2011, with just a solitary victory in the last 11 head-to-heads. Current England manager Sam Allardyce has managed both clubs, while Sunderland academy product Jack Colback plays for the Tyneside team nowadays.

Fenerbahce v Galatasaray

Turkish giants Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are foes.

Turkish giants Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are foes.

When Istanbul rivals welcome opposition fans ‘to hell’, you know you’re in for one humdinger of a derby. This one is called ‘the Intercontinental’, as the two teams come from either side of the Bosporus Strait that separates Europe from Asia and the Middle East. Six men have been sent off in the last nine meetings, with violence spilling over from off the field.

A city of culture and great history becomes a war-zone around the relevant ground. Galatasaray icon Hakan Sukur is among the top scorers in this fixture, while players that have braved the Bosporus crossing include ex-Newcastle United midfielder Emre Belozoglu and London-born winger Colin Kazim-Richards.

Millwall v West Ham United

To borrow from Tennyson, on either side the river lie long fields of dockers and their wives. Core supporter groups of the Lions and Hammers historically worked for rival companies on opposite banks of the Thames, making this the tastiest of London derbies.

Football hooliganism is sadly synonymous with this fixture thanks to films like The Firm and Green Street, with a real life Upton Park riot taking place in 2009. It’s West Ham, though, that have lost their heads in recent meetings, as the last three men to be sent off, including former club captain Kevin Nolan, have been in claret and blue colours.

Teddy Sheringham is by far and away the most famous name to have played for both Millwall and the Hammers, though Billy Bonds managed these two intense rivals. Australia leading marksman Tim Cahill, meanwhile, is among modern day notable scorers in this fixtures.


For more trivia articles, check out Coral’s dedicated section.

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Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.