There’s nothing quite like a local derby to get the blood pumping.
The excitement and unique atmosphere of two teams in the same city battling it out for supremacy is genuinely special. Local derbies have an extra bit of spice to them, an extra intent. Even meaningless mid-table mix-ups can suddenly become as important as any Champions League final if it’s a local derby.
Homefans is a company that specialises in taking fans to countries beyond England in order to experience some of the most incredible local derbies the world has to offer. We’ve partnered with them to come up with a list of eight of the fiercest rivalries you need to see at least once.
1. Old Firm
Teams: Celtic, Rangers
Stadiums: Ibrox, Celtic Park
Distance between grounds: 4.3 miles (by foot)
Just north of the border is one of the most explosive derbies in Europe. This is more than a football match, with the clubs clashing on so many issues but are nearly always divided along strict religious lines, with Celtic representing Catholics whilst Rangers stand for Protestants and Unionists everywhere. These are Scotland’s biggest clubs by a distance, and their rivalry is legendary.
Squawka have been lucky enough to tick this derby off our list.
Homefans took us on their Glasgow trip to experience the Old Firm Derby in what was Steven Gerrard’s first clash with his former boss, Brendan Rodgers.
Whisper it, but Steven Gerrard was singing as well.
Old Firm incoming. pic.twitter.com/i99WTbLVPy
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) September 2, 2018
Not only were we treated to an intense atmosphere at Celtic Park on matchday – resulting in a 1-0 for the home side – we also got a personal tour of Ibrox the day before the derby.
The opportunity to learn more about both clubs and the history behind one of the most iconic derbies in the world made the game even more exciting. The Homefans trip leaders are a font of knowledge about the entire city – not just the showpiece derby itself – and we traded our stats for their stories as we learnt more about their incredible trips around the world.
You don’t just go to a derby on a Sunday, you live it for the entire weekend.
Where: Rio de Janeiro
Teams: Flamengo, Fluminense
Distance between grounds: n/a
When a group of frustrated Fluminense players left for Flamengo in 1911, there was no football team there waiting for them. They soon formed one, however, and the rivalry has been fierce ever since. These are two of Brazil’s best clubs, but more than that this derby has to be on your bucket list because of the stadium: the Maracanã. Named after a river (which was named after a parrot), it is one of football’s holiest places; the sight of so many of football’s magical moments, and if you ever have the chance to experience one yourself, you should.
Homefans won’t just take you to see Fla-Flu, their Brazil trip includes plenty of other Brazilian derbies as well as tours of even more iconic stadia. Make sure you’re on the visit!
Where: Buenos Aires
Teams: River Plate, Boca Juniors
Stadiums: El Monumental, La Bombanera
Distance between grounds: 14.1 km (by foot)
How could you not want to experience the match that gave El Clásico its name? Two of South America’s most historic clubs: River Plate of the students and the elite – the club with the iconic kit that gave us Ariel Ortega; or Boca Juniors – the rough and tumble working-class club with the equally iconic kit, the club of Juan Román Riquelme, Carlos Tevez and Diego Maradona.
Whoever you prefer, this football is mind-blowingly intense, the atmosphere is supernatural, and this derby in one of the most important and epic cities in football history will change your life.
Homefans will take you to the Superclásico as well as offering you tours of Buenos Aires fabulous five stadia, with the option of a day trip to Montevideo in Uruguay or just seeing other matches in BA if that tickles your fancy.
Teams: Sevilla, Real Betis
Stadiums: Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuan, Estadio Benito Villamarín
Distance between grounds: 3.9 km (by foot)
Internal politics at Sevilla saw a split, with the splitters joining up with local students to form Betis. Since then the rivalry has been roughly divided along class-lines, with Sevilla representing the elite whilst Betis are very firmly a working-class club. The rivalry is incessant and their matches are some of the most intense in Spain. Both stadia are legendary and capable of generating an incredible atmosphere; these matches are not to be missed.
Homefans will take you to the intense Derby Sevillano and show you a good time with a local bar brawl for good measure.
Teams: Roma, Lazio
Stadiums: Stadio Olimpico
Distance between grounds: n/a
The Eternal City hosts one of history’s great rivalries, born out of a dictator’s wish to create a southern powerhouse to challenge the teams of the north. Mussolini had three of the four local clubs join to form one big club, Roma. The fourth local side, Lazio, refused. Since then of course things have switched, with Lazio’s fans coming to identify themselves more with the countryside as well as the right, whilst Roma are very much a city club, drawing on the Roman Empire for their iconography. Their “tifos” are historic and the football is fabulous.
Homefans will take you to the Derby Della Capitale followed by a night in the Eternal City itself.
Teams: Red Star, Partizan
Stadiums: Rajko Mitić Stadium, Partizan Stadium
Distance between grounds: 1.1 km (by foot)
Belgrade has been torn apart by war and division, and in terms of football at least that sensation is carried on. With Red Star, having been founded by anti-fascist youth, coming to represent the people of Yugoslavia whilst Partizan was founded by the Army and remains close to the military. The two stadiums are barely a kilometre apart, and so you can be sure the intensity will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced.
Homefans will take you to the earth-shattering Eternal Derby as well as taking you on tours around Belgrade to soak up the intense atmosphere.
Teams: Brondby, Copenhagen
Stadiums: Brondby Stadium, Parken Stadium
Distance between grounds: 13.1 km (by foot)
Brondby ruled the roost in Copenhagen since the 60’s, but when two of Denmark’s oldest clubs merged to form F.C. Copenhagen in 1992; a rivalry was born. And when Roy Hodgson instilled a winning methodology at the turn of the millennium (no, seriously); 11 titles in 17 years followed and tipped the balance of power in Denmark’s capital to the new boys, adding fuel to the fire.
Homefans will take you to the Copenhagen Derby as well as a tour of Brondby’s stadium, and even offer you a beer-walk tour around the legendary old city if you fancy it.
8. Holy War
Teams: Wisla Krakow, Cracovia
Stadiums: Stadion Miejski, Marszałek Piłsudski Stadium
Distance between grounds: 2.6 km (by foot)
Krakow is a wonderful city to visit and the Polish are welcoming people, but when it’s time for the derby in Krakow between mighty Wisla and their noisy neighbours Cracovia, everything changes. The fans here are incredibly passionate (it’s not for nothing they call this the Holy War) and when the stands start jumping up and down you’ll be sure you can feel the stadium move beneath you. A once in a lifetime experience.
Homefans will take you to the absolutely incredible Holy War between Krakow’s two giant clubs, complete with local bar crawls guided by local legend Filip.