Rivalry among teams are nearly as common as individual rivalries. Like the other, they can have a host of factors influencing the intensity of the rivalry, not only relating to the sport or sportsmanship, but other political and financial factors. So here’s a list of some of the greatest team rivalries across all sports!
Note: Teams here, can mean either a sporting club or a national team.
Along with the Manchester- Liverpool rivalry, this is one of the most prominent and historic rivalries between Football clubs on the British Isles. The Old-Firm is collectively used to describe Rangers F.C. and Celtic F.C., the two greatest Scottish football sides. Together, they have won 100 Scottish Leagues, 69 Scottish Cups, 42 Scottish League Cups and both have achieved European Glory.
The rivalry between them historically has more than sporting factors. Rangers, their fans are traditionally seen as the true Scot descendants and are Protestants. The Celtic supporters on the other hand, are of an Irish descent, and are Roman Catholics. Both the clubs logo’s have these cultural references embedded in them. There is also a nationality rivalry factor involved, through Scots and Irish.
The confrontations between the two fans, have been termed as “Sectarianism”. Clashes between the supporters tend to get violent and pitch invasions are a common occurrence. The most infamous one is the 1980 Scottish Cup Final which Celtics won 1-0, but the subsequent riot saw a lot of injuries between the fighting fans. Since then, the matches between the two are set during the afternoons for easy and safer management of the crowds. Scottish league title deciders (given their dominance of the league) is avoided by proper fixture scheduling.
The rivalry has died down recently, as the Rangers were liquidated and then, reborn as a club in the 4th Tier of Scottish football, allowing Celtic to dominate the domestic scene. Rangers currently sit in the 2nd Division, although there are possible cup matches in the Scottish Cup and League Cup. Their most recent meeting was the semi final of the 2014-15 Scottish League cup, which was won by Celtic.
Overall, out of 400 encounters, 159 wins to Rangers, 145 to Celtic and 96 draws.
Ferrari arguably are a team that is associated with the sport of Formula One. Since the inception of the sport in 1950, they are the sole surviving team. With 16 Constructors Championships and 15 Drivers Championship, over 900 races entered in, Ferrari without a doubt are the leading team of the bunch. However, they have faced stiff competition from Williams but mostly from McLaren, the second most successful F1 team with 784 races entered, 12 Drivers Championship and 8 Constructors Championship.
Some of the finest drivers have driven for the teams. Notable Ferrari Drivers include Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Niki Lauda, Gerhard Berger, Giles Villeneuve, Jodi Scheckter and Juan Manuel Fangio. McLaren’s drivers include Lewis Hamilton, Ayrton Senna, James Hunt, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and Fernando Alonso.
Since the 70s, they have been the forefront of many F1 battles, including Lauda-Hunt, Schumacher-Hakkinen, Kimi-Lewis in the recent times. Both are also not without controversy, having been accused and punished numerous occasions for breaching the rules on car designs, engine regulations , etc, the most notable being the 2007 Spy-gate incident of McLaren studying the blueprints of the Ferrari car, an incident that ensured they would finish without any constructors point.
There have been note worthy battles, in the recent age of the sport, the biggest was by far the rivalry between Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher, together when the teams won 7 Drivers Championships between them from 1998 to 2004. More recently, they had the titles in 2007 and 2008 respectively between Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Lewis Hamilton (McLaren).
Although, sometimes things do turn nasty between the team and teammate fights are common between them, the most prominent being the duel between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost with McLaren . Things today are not the same with the emergence of Mercedes and Red Bull Racing. Both teams struggled with the V6 Engine regulations introduced in 2014, but it seems Ferrari might be back up to the top with a positive 2015 season, while McLaren, who are trying to revive the successful Honda Partnership.
Australia and New Zealand have some intense but generally, friendly rivalry between each other in all sporting disciplines. The sporting rivalries have really started to blossom in the 21st Century. Currently, Australia and New Zealand face off primarily in Cricket and Rugby, along with Athletics. Football was once a big sport between the two, especially during the World Cup qualification campaigning, but Australia have shifted their footballing conference to Asia, to face more competition.
2015, Australia and New Zealand sporting teams faced each other twice in sport tournament finals. 2015 Cricket World Cup final, in which the Aussies pretty much took a convincing win. The 2015 Rugby World Cup saw New Zealand defend their crown and defeat the Aussies in the final. While it’s predominantly a rivalry dominated by the Australians, New Zealand are the dominating team in the Rugby Union, having won 3 World Cups (including the 2015 final over Australia) and 13 of the 19 Southern Hemisphere championships.
Even in other disciplines, such as Cycling and athletics, there are some on-field rivalries between the athletes of the two nations. During the 2010 Tour de France, Mark Renshaw (an Australian) headbutted Julian Dean (A New Zealand) cyclist that resulted in Renshaw being expelled from that edition of the Tour. Luckily, this is a rivalry between countries that stays more or less friendly.
Currently, the Australian and New Zealand Cricket Teams are facing off in a series in Australia.
The Stanley Cup which is awarded to the winning team of the NHL is perhaps one of the most iconic trophies in the world of sports. No other team has held this magnificent trophy aloft more often than the Montreal Canadiens which have won the cup a record 24 times, and second lies the Toronto Maple Leafs with 13 wins.
The rivalry goes down to the fan bases. Montreal, is traditionally supported by the French-speaking fans, while the Maple Leaf’s had a primarily English-speaking fan base. Also, given the historic descent of the fans, Montreal’s fans originally can trace their ancestry to France and are Roman Catholics. On the same lines, The Maple Leaf’s fans can trace their ancestry to England and are Protestants.
Ironically, the Canadiens were responsible for bringing the Maple Leaf’s to the NHL in the 1910s. This was when, 4 of the 5 teams in the then National Hockey Association broke away as they realized they could not get rid of the Toronto Franchise Owner, Eddie Livingstone. Thus, Toronto was in a one team league. And when Quebec Bulldogs could not play due to financial reasons, and the Canadiens owner wanting a franchise from Toronto, a temporary license was given to the Toronto Arena Company in 1919, which was made permanent in 1920.
The rivalry heated up in 1938, as they were the only two professional Ice-Hockey teams in Canada, making it almost a sort of Canadian Derby, between two major speaking groups of the countries. It also pits the city of Toronto against Montreal, which are the largest cities and important ones in Canada, in terms of cultural and economic expansion
The 1940s to the 1960s was a period of utter dominance for these two teams, as the Stanley Cup went to either one of them, except when Chicago won it in 1961. However, after 1967, the traditional fan bases did start to erode away and the expansion teams in Canada captured some of their fans as well.
The most famous match-up is the 1967 Stanley Cup Final, when the Toronto Maple Leaf’s upset the favorite Montreal Canadiens when they were celebrating the centenary year of the Canadian competition. Overall, Montreal leads the match-ups, with 390 wins, to the 314 of Toronto. In the post season, they have met in 15 post season series, with the Monetreal Canadeins winning 8 to the 7 of Toronto.
The teams are now in the same division of the Eastern Conference of the NHL, and both are wanting to win the Stanley Cup again, as they both have not lifted the trophy in many,many years.
Two of the biggest football clubs in Italy and together, they make the City of Milan the most successful city in Footballing trophies won, with 86 trophies at the National and European level being held by both clubs together (Milan have 47 and Inter have 39).
The two, were originally founded as the Milan Cricket and football club in the late 1890s. The team achieved success in the first few years of the 20th century, but an issue over the signing of foreign players led to a split of the club, leading to the foundation of Inter Milan.
The rivalry pits the team’s fans against each other. This is because, traditionally, Inter was supported by the Milan “Bourgeoisie” or the upper echelons of the city, while A.C. Milan was supported by the working class people of the city. Their social class as well as way of arriving of the stadium have actually given the fans of each club their nicknames.
Inter, as stated earlier was supported by the Bourgeoisie, acquired the nickname, muturèta as they had the “privilege” to go to the San Siro on their own scooters. Milan, which was supported by the working class were called the tramvèe, as they had to come by Public transport to the matches. Although, in recent times this has been mitigated. Another interesting part for the rivalry is the stadium as both use the San Siro as their home ground , making it one of the few derbies that see the teams involved sharing the stadium.
In the 1960s and late 2000s, Inter Milan were the dominant team, led by Luis Suarez in the 1960s (A Spanish player) who won 2 European cups for the team, and then the team built and led by Roberto Mancini and Jose Mourhino from the 2005-10, which was led by Javier Zanetti, Snejider, Eto’o, Ibrahimovich.
The 80s and 90s and the early 2000s, was when A.C. Milan were the dominant of the two, with the likes of Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Clerence Seerdoff, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Andry Shevchenko among many others playing for Milan, which assembled some of the finest sides in World Football.
The fans, like many around Italy have a noted ultra’s group clashes between the two fan’s ultras not only with each other but with other teams have been a common factor of the derby in the past (not any more as the authorities are starting to clamp down on them). Stadium bans at San Siro to one of their ultra’s for misconduct is a common occurrence though, but they are noted for their vocal and loud support of their team.
Currently, both Milan teams are undergoing a rebuild, as neither of them have made any serious attempts for the title in the last few seasons, and are not going to for a while. The first Derby of the season, saw Inter win by a single goal margin, with the next match scheduled on 31st January 2016, with A.C. Milan as the home team.
Despite being in a rebuilt, the derby always ensures a fully packed San Siro.
Liverpool and Manchester United are two of the greatest clubs in football. Both teams are also the dominant team of their respective cities. The match is considered one of the most famous fixtures in British football, along with the Old-Firm. Between the two teams, both have 38 Top division league titles, 18 FA Cups and 8 UEFA Champions League and many other trophies. Greats of the English game have all played for these clubs.
The proximity of the two cities is another factor for the rivalry. The off-sporting factors include the quest of each city to want to dominate the local area politics. During the Industrial revolution, Manchester was a manufacturing hub while Liverpool actually grew as a major coastal city.
There have been resentments between the two cities people over some projects during that time, when the Manchester Ship Canal was constructed against the wishes of Liverpool. However, they have operated well together and the tensions between the fans have always been high since 1894, When Liverpool and Manchester United faced off in a relegation playoff.
Since the 60s, the fixtures has been competitive as they both have had approximately 20-25 years at the top, with Liverpool being at the top during the 70s and 80s, and United taking over the role as the leading English Club from the 90s. An interesting fact on this rivalry versus others in football, there have been very few transfers between the clubs, with the last transfer between them taking place back in 1964, when Phil Chisnall moved from Manchester United to Liverpool.
Some of the greats to have played for Liverpool include Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Steven Gerrard, Phil Thompson, Jamie Carragher. Manchester United greats include Sir Bobby Charlton, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Gary and Phil Neville among others. Famous recent fixtures include Liverpool winning 4-1 at Old Trafford during the 2008/09 season, or the match at Anfield during the 2014/15 season that saw Steven Gerrard sent off in less than 1 minute. Another famous result was Liverpool winning 3-0 at Old Trafford as well, during the 2013/14 season, those two matches inflicted the heaviest defeats United suffered against Liverpool at Old Trafford in nearly two decades.
The next meeting will be later on during the 2015/16 season at Anfield, after the first league fixture of the season went in favor of United at Old Trafford.
Arguably the two most successful teams in the NBA. With 16 Titles to Celtics and 15 to Los Angeles, no other NBA franchise has a double digit in final appearances only. They have met 12 times in the NBA finals, with the Celtics leading the finals record, 9-3. The two are the only franchises to have 3000+ wins in the NBA. The first meeting in the finals was in 1959, when the Lakers were based in Minneapolis. It would be the second of eleven championships for the Boston Celtics in their famous dynasty.
Throughout the 60s, The Celtics led by Bill Russell squared off against the Lakers led by Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, not only during the regular season but their most common battleground was the NBA finals, including the famous 1969 final which marked the end of the legendary Celtics dynasty. 1969, can be a noteworthy incident where the NBA finals MVP was awarded to Jerry West (who was the first recipient of the award), and till date the only person on a losing team to receive this award.
The 70s saw relative success for both teams before the rivalry re-ignited in the 80s. The Lakers led by Magic Johnson and the Celtics led by Larry Bird met in the finals 3 times, with the Lakers winning 2 series to the single series for Larry Bird’s Boston against their eternal western conference rivals. The matches between the two during the 80s bought back memories of the 60s matches between the two.
A 90s lul, where both teams saw rebuilding and the emergence of the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs actually pushed the rivalry between the two back down. However in the 21st Century, the Lakers have been the dominating team, winning 5 Championships since the year 2000, while the Celtics have won the 2008 title, against the Lakers. Los Angeles would get its revenge by beating the Celtics in 2010.
Since the 2010s, both teams are a shadow of their former glory as they undergo extensive rebuilding processes. It is however, a matter of time before we see a re-emergence of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry in the world of basketball. There will be two scheduled matches between the two during the 2015-16 NBA regular season.
The rivalry between two of the most popular baseball teams pits the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Despite the popularity, in terms of titles won, either at the end of the World Series, or the American League Pennants won, the Yankees have won 27 World Series titles against the 8 of Boston, and also have won 40 American League Pennants to the 13 of Boston and 18 Divisional titles to the 7 of Boston.
The title haul of the Yankee’s in each category are MLB records. Being in the MLB’s eastern Division, they have met 2175 times, with the Yankee’s leading the head to head with a 1175-986-14 record (14 draws, 1175 wins to the Yankees and 986 wins for Boston).
The rivalry started in 1919. Up till then, The Red Sox were the dominant team in Baseball, spearheaded by Babe Ruth. However, to fund a Broadway musical, the then Boston Red Sox owner, Harry Fraze sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. He would lead the Yankee’s to major success as the New Yorkers established themselves as Baseball powerhouses, while Boston would never win a World Series for 86 years, dubbing it the Curse of Bambino.
They would have fiercely contested matches throughout. 1938 saw a fight between Yankee’s Jake Powell and Red-Sox player manager, Joe Cronin in the dugouts. The series during the regular season were tight but the Yankee’s would continue to prevail, always being at the top right until the 80s.
The 1980s is so far the only decade where neither side would win a World Series as they both would lose their respective series. Despite that, numerous records and hostile,intense matches have been witnessed either at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. The early 2000s saw both teams reach their great heights, especially the Red Sox who finally won a World Series in 2004. They both remained powerhouses in the sport till date, with the Red Sox the more recent of the two to have won a World Series, having done so in 2013.
The matches between them receive immense media coverage throughout the season, and there is seldom a match between the two that fails to deliver in excitement and intensity.
One of the most passionate of football rivalries. The BBC have said that experiencing the Superclasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate is a must, while others have called it as one of the “50 Sporting things to do before you die”. They boast the biggest fan bases in Argentina, with more than 70% of the Argentine people, a fan of one of them.
Both teams were founded in the same area of Buenos Aires, in La Boca, which is a working class, dockland area. However, the split and start of the rivalry began in 1925, when River Plate moved to the Northern district of the city. Since then, Boca is considered the working people’s club, and River Plate is known as the affluent people’s club.
The nicknames of the fans, are Xeneizes for the Boca fans (as La Boca has a lot of Italian and European heritage), and Los Millonarios for the River Plate fans, as they are supposedly the upper-class. However, that really doesn’t matter as people from all society levels in Argentina support them.
Fan violence, heavy verbal taunting, loud fan support, fireworks, dancing, cheering, passion are all seen in the Super Classico. Some of the taunts used , include Boca calling River fans, gallinas (Chickens) and River fans tend to refer their rivals as los chanchitos (little pigs).
Cross-team movement between the players is very, very rare and its hard mentally on the player that does attempt the move. Oscar Ruggeri, a defender who moved to River Plate from Boca Juniors said,
“It’s not easy I can tell you. One side looks on you as a traitor and the other doesn’t really trust you. You need time to adapt and a lot of character to win people over”
Fan violence has fallen down a bit in the recent times, but the match-up has featured the most tragic event in Argentine Football, during a match in 1968, when 71 fans were crushed to death at gate 12, making it the most devastating incident in Argentine football.
So far, across all official competitions, Boca have won 86 matches to the 78 wins of River Plate with the sides playing out 76 draws as well. The next match would be in the 2016 Argentine Premier League.
The rivalry between these two for the Ashes Urn results in some of the most competitive and physical test cricket matches. Australia along with England were the first two test playing nations. The rivalry started in 1882, when Australia beat the English at the Oval. This led to Ivo Bligh leading a cricket team from England “to recover those ashes”. The publicity around the match was intense and England were able to recover the Ashes. The late 19th Century was a period of English Dominance as they won all the 7 series.
From then on, The Australians recovered, with the Ashes changing hands several times till the first World War. After the war, the Australians and English began to play in a more aggressive, ruthless manner. The debut of Don Bradman in 1926, came when England decimated an inexperienced Australian Side.
However, Bradman led them to recapture the 1930 series and this now experienced side, which had the finest batting line up at the time, forced the English to use the “bodyline” bowling, which was widely condemned. The use of this bowling even promoted diplomatic action between the countries before Anglo-Australian relations could be damaged beyond repair as the Aussie public were not pleased with this bowling.
After WW2, while both teams played their hearts outs, The Ashes mostly stayed with Australia. Only during the 1980s, the Ashes stayed mostly with the English. However, from 1989 till the mid 2000s, Australia established itself as the number one team in the Ashes and World Cricket. Since then, the series have been fairly evenly shared. Australia which have not won a series in England in quite some time, have managed to White Wash England, while England tend to retain the Ashes on English soil.
The most recent Ashes saw England win the Ashes for the 32nd Time
Overall, Both have 32 wins each with 5 series Drawn.
The next series of the physical but thrilling test match series between the two will happen during 2017-18 in Australia.
India vs Pakistan has been one of the most intense rivalries of all time. If the streets are empty and people don’t go to work despite a working day, it means that there is an Indo-Pak cricket match going on. The 1947 communal violence and bloodshed resulted in one of the mega events of history-The partition of British India into India and Pakistan.
It was further followed by Kashmir conflicts which laid the foundation for one of the greatest sporting rivalries between two nations, who once had a common cricket heritage. The first Test series between the two teams was played in 1951-52, when Pakistan toured India. India toured Pakistan for the first time in 1954-55.
The first series being played on Indian soil yielded favorable results for the hosts. India clinched the series 2-1 after winnings the matches at Delhi and Bombay. When India toured Pakistan in 1955, Pakistan was flooded with fans from opposition side, who were granted visa to Lahore for the series. However the series ended as a dead rubber as no result was produced in either of the matches.
In 1999, following Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s historic visit to Pakistan, Pakistan toured India for a Test and ODI series, before the outbreak of Kargil War led to further tension between two nations. India toured Pakistan in 2003 as a peace initiative. India won the series with Virender Sehwag scoring a triple century at Multan. The series was a huge hit and fans were thrilled to the maximum.
After the 2008 Mumbai attacks there has been a complete cutoff in cricketing ties between two Nations. India met Pakistan in 2011 World Cup semifinal, which India won comfortably. Pakistan has never defeated India in any of the ICC Tournament matches. India has a 10-0 record over Pakistan in World Cup matches. Pakistan lead India by a margin of 51-28 in matches played at India, Pakistan and Sharjah.
India have a small advantage over Pakistan 23-21 in matches played at other neutral venues spread over Australia, England, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Despite the limited number of cricket matches going on between the sides, it is always an anticipated clash. In the 2015 World Cup, the tickets to the India-Pakistan match in the group stage were sold out in around 10 minutes.
Hockey between the two countries have also been a great sporting rivalry. They have been some of the greatest field Hockey Teams. India was utterly dominant from the 1920s to the 1950s. Pakistan began to emerge as a power in the sport in the late 40s, and from the 1960s to the 1980s, both countries were among the world best.
They have been fairly dominant on the Asian Stage throughout, but their global domination, against the likes of Australia, Netherlands is waning, seen by their World Cup and Summer Olympic performances in recent times. The results between the two, especially during the tournament finals is mixed.
Including matches played at the Olympics, World Cup, Common Wealth Games, Asian Games and Asian Cup, there have been 27 meetings during these tournaments, with Pakistan leading the way in these tournaments with 15 wins to India’s 11, and a sole draw coming in the 1996 Summer Olympics group stage. The meetings are few as they both tend to be drawn on opposite sides of the pool. The matches, out of these tournaments are still a must see affair for the fans of both teams.
Currently, both the Indian and Pakistan hockey teams are both languishing in the shadow of their former glory, but they have began restructuring and trying to revamp themselves, although there won’t be a match up at the 2016 Olympics with Pakistan failing to qualify.
Currently, the match up between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is arguably the greatest. Both teams have a squad consisting of some of the finest players now, and many of the game’s greatest players have played for the Spanish Giants. Currently, in terms of trophies won by clubs in the Top 5 European countries, they both are first and second, with the Catalan Giants in the first position.
The rivalry between the clubs extends beyond sports and into the world of politics. Barcelona, a supporter of the Catalan region opposes the ideas of Madrid and its Spanish government. During the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Franco Era in Spain, many clubs in Spain (including FC Barcelona) had to use Spanish names instead of Catalan (or other regional names). During this time, the infamous, Mes Que une Club or “More than a Club” motto of Barcelona evolved.
Both teams, can boast a talented alumni. Mostly so in Madrid, who had 2 Galacticos period. Some of the famous players to have donned the Los Blancos jersey include Alfredo di Stefano, Raul, David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Zenidine Zidane, Hugo Sanchez and Ronaldo. Famous players for FC Barcelona include Johan Cryuff, Luis Suarez ( a Spanish player in the 1960s), Ronaldhinio, Diego Maradona, Romario, Rivaldo and Hristo Stoichkov.
There have been some high profile players to have played for both clubs, and the reception received by them, from their former club has been less than pleasant. Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Michael Laudrup and Luis Enrique are some players to have played for both. Whenever either one visits, there is a sense of tension and its not uncommon for lot of taunting in front of the team hotels or bus (on the rare occasion, a stone being thrown at the bus).
The current teams boast the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Benzema, Isco, Sergio Ramos among others for Real Madrid and Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Andreas Iniesta, Jordi Alba for the Catalans. The two possess the finest squads in Europe right now, rivaled by only Bayern Munich.
The match ups between the two, ultimately have a major saying on the Spanish League winner, as they have won 55 out of 84 Spanish Titles and 47 out of 114 Spanish Cups. The Spanish Cup finals in 2010/11, 2013/14 and the Champions League match-up in 2010/11 have been some of the most intense matches between the two in recent times.
The next match up between the two will be on 21st November, 2015 at the Santiago Bernebau, Madrid.
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