Underrated Soccer Rivalries

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In the realm of soccer, certain rivalries shine brightly on the global stage, commanding attention with their historic clashes and intense passions. Matches like El Clásico, the Manchester Derby, or the Superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate are etched into soccer history, captivating audiences worldwide. However, beyond the spotlight of these marquee matchups lie a multitude of underrated soccer rivalries, hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

In this article, we embark on a journey to uncover these lesser-known rivalries, delving into the intricacies of matches that may receive different fanfare but are no less compelling. All of these games are fantastic spectacles that provide players with a great game, a matched betting opportunity and a passionate event. 

What Makes a Rivalry in Soccer

There are countless reasons why rivalries can form, from one-off heated encounters to political disagreements; however, by far, the most common reasons include geographical proximity, history, fan animosity, and competitive tension. 

Geographically close teams, like those in neighboring cities, regions, or teams that even share a city or town, often engage in fierce competition for local pride and bragging rights. These games are typically referred to as derbys and include match-ups such as the Madrid Derby and the Old Firm, which is between Rangers and Glasgow, two Scottish teams based in Glasgow. 

Historical encounters marked by contentious moments or significant victories can further fuel rivalries. For instance, the rivalry between Manchester and Leeds United dates back to longstanding bitterness between Yorkshire and Lancashire and is exacerbated by a history of soccer hooliganism. 

Moreover, competitive tensions and media portrayal can amplify rivalries between clubs that may not naturally have a rivalry. For example, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are the two most successful German teams; however, in comparison to other teams, Bayern still has dominance over the Bundesliga. Dortmund's presence as the underdog who stops Bayern has painted a media-driven story that has pitched these two sides against each other. That, combined with the two teams frequently vying for the title, has led to this game being referred to as the German Clasico.

Red Star Belgrade vs Partizan Belgrade

Red Star Belgrade and Partizan Belgrade are two teams with a long-standing and fierce rivalry. Both teams are found within the city of Belgrade in Serbia and have a long and storied history with one another. The rivalry began immediately after the club's creation due to fierce political differences and conflict. This rivalry has lasted the test of time, with the match-ups now being known as the Eternal Derby due to the widespread notoriety of this game. This match will usually also contain fireworks, tifos, flags, smoke, drums, and more within the fan's stands. 

Djurgardens IF vs Hammarby IF

Djurgardens IF and Hammarby IF are both clubs within the Stockholm urban area. On top of this, ever since 2013, both clubs have shared the same ground, with this being the Tele2 Arena. As a result of these clubs' proximity, it has led to a festering resentment between the 2 clubs as they fight for bragging rights over who is the greater club. 

Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray

Similar to the other rivalries in our list so far, both of these clubs share a city, with the city in question being Istanbul, Turkey. There are actually three big clubs in Istanbul: Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, and Besiktas. The rivalry between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, however, has gained a reputation as being the largest and most influential. Their rivalry started in 1934 when a friendly game between the two turned into a riot. Since then, torches, smoke, flags, and violence have become somewhat of a staple due to this fixture, becoming known as one of the most heated rivalries in soccer. 

Corinthians vs Palmeiras

Palmerias was founded in 1914 when a group of Italians who were formerly members of Corinthians split off and created their own soccer team. Ever since that treasonous act, there has been a deep-seated rivalry and hatred between the two Sao Paulo-based clubs.

Nowadays, this rivalry is widely considered one of the best in the world, with fans engaging in chants, choreographed dances, and taking music throughout the streets of Sao Paulo before the game even began. 

Marseille vs PSG

The rivalry between Marseille and PSG is often referred to as the Le Classique. These two teams are the two most successful clubs in France and the only French teams to have won a major European trophy. Therefore, they are the greatest rivals in France. For many years, both of these teams would go toe-to-toe in the title race year after year before the emergence of Olympique Lyonnais and the downfall of Marseille. 

Olympiacos FC vs Panathinaikos FC

Both Olympiacos and Panathinaikos originate from Athens, Greece, and their rivalry stems from social and societal differences. Olympiacos stem from working-class roots, whereas Panathinaikos have more aristocratic origins. Matched between these two clubs are marked by fierce fan support and displays which reflect the deep-seated animosity between the supporters. 

Nacional vs Penarol

The rivalry between Nacional and Peñarol, two of Uruguay's most iconic soccer clubs, is one of the oldest and most intense in the world and originates from Montevideo. These clubs first faced each other in 1900, making the oldest rivalry outside of the British Isles. One of the most notable games played between these two sides was in 1987, where with 22 minutes remaining, three Penarol players were suspended and given a red card. This game went on to be known as the Clasico de los 8 contra 11, or the 8 against 11 derby.

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