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What are the world's best sporting rivalries?

January 28th, 2010
12:46 PM ET

There isn't anything like a good sporting rivalry to get your blood boiling.

Manchester United celebrate their win over rival Manchester City.

Manchester United celebrate their win over rival Manchester City.

It doesn't matter what sport you support, what part of the world you live in or what economic class you belong to – sporting rivalries cross all borders.

Here's our list of some of the most notable sporting rivalries.

Football – Manchester United v Manchester City
Cricket – India v Pakistan and England v Australia
Tennis – Federer v Nadal
Baseball – New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox
Basketball – Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics
Ice Hockey – Russia v U.S. v Canada
Athletics – Haile Gabreslaisse v Kenenisa Bekele

We'd like to know what you think.

What are some of your favorite sporting rivalries? Why do you think sporting rivalries exist? How much do things like geographic location, economic class and history play into who you support?

Please leave your comments below.


Filed under:  General
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Olusegun

    BARCELONA VS REAL MADRID
    USA VS ENGLAND
    NIGERIA VS GHANA
    ALGERIA VS EGYPT

    January 28, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  2. Mark

    For those old enough to remember: Yankees v. Dodgers (Brooklyn)

    January 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  3. Tomato

    Yankees vs. Red Sox
    Ohio State vs. Michigan Football
    Celtics vs. Lakers
    Duke vs. UNC Basketball

    January 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  4. McQueenio

    eeer... Rangers V Celtic has to be the biggest in Football, followed by Inter Milan v A.C Milan then I'd day Man United v LIverpool is a far greater rivalry than that of United v City.

    January 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Reply
  5. Colin

    City aren't even Manchester United's biggest derby rival, never mind the most notable rivalry in football!

    January 28, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Reply
  6. Debes Chino

    My "Super Eagles" keeps surprising me day by day though they eight to survive. Keep flying hard my fellow Nigerian citizens.

    January 28, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  7. Keira

    There's nothing like Yankees Red Sox. It can be considered a religious experience and everryone should experience this!! GO YANKEES! 🙂

    January 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Reply
  8. JeffH

    Connors v McEnroe
    Ohio State v Michigan
    Ali v Frazier
    Steelers v Ravens
    Larry Bird v Magic Johnson
    Nicklaus v Palmer
    Navratilova vs Evert

    January 28, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  9. JeffH

    Gretzky v Lemieux

    January 28, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  10. Chuck

    UNC vs. Duke in college basketball.

    Although it's not as big as MIchigan-Ohio State, I don't think anyone's mentioned Texas vs. Oklahoma in college football...or Florida vs. Florida State vs. Miami.

    Any chess players out there? How about Fischer vs. Spassky way back when? Yeah, it's not exactly a sport, but ESPN televises poker, so...

    Speaking of non-mainstream, any Ultimate Frisbee guys out there? Seattle Sockeye and Buzz Bullets of Japan developed a nice rivalry in the past few years.

    January 28, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Reply
  11. Kevin

    Soccer – Barcelona Vs. Madrid
    Baseball – Yankees Vs. Red Sox
    Football – Packers Vs. Bears
    Individual – Ali Vs. Frazier (possibly the most intense ever)
    Basketball – Lakers Vs. Celtics
    College – UNC Vs. Duke

    If I'm not going to double dip in any sports I'd say those are the biggest of the 20th century.

    January 29, 2010 at 2:01 am | Reply
    • David

      I'm sorry, but college, basketball and baseball are played almostly exclusively in the US. Can't really say they are the biggest sports. Cricket has a greater rivalry, between India & Pakistan. And before you say it isn't big, around 1 BILLION people tune in to watch those matches.

      July 14, 2013 at 10:18 am | Reply
  12. Mike

    Baseball: Red Sox vs Yankees

    Basketball: Celtics vs Lakers

    Football: Dolphins vs Jets / Broncos vs Chargers

    NCAA Football: Miami Hurricanes vs Florida State Seminoles / Ohio State vs Michigan Wolverines

    NCAA: Duke vs UCONN

    January 29, 2010 at 2:01 am | Reply
  13. Fernando S.

    Soccer: Corinthians vs. Palmeiras. Their rivalry dates back to the founding of both clubs when former Corinthians founders went and founded their own club (Palestra Italia, now Palmeiras).

    January 29, 2010 at 2:13 am | Reply
  14. eiefkei

    AC Milan v Inter Milan
    Barcelona v Real Madrid

    January 29, 2010 at 2:15 am | Reply
  15. Jazy

    Club Soccer: Real Madrid v Barcelona
    Int'l Soccer: England v Germany
    NFL: Patriots v Colts
    NCAA Fball: Ohio St. v Michigan
    NBA: Lakers v Celtics
    NCAA Bball: Duke v UNC
    NHL: Sharks v Ducks
    Int'l Hockey: USA v Canada
    Baseball: Yankees v Red Sox
    Cricket: India v Pakistan

    January 29, 2010 at 2:15 am | Reply
  16. J

    Football: Arsenal, Spurs!
    Baseball: Red Sox/ Yankees
    Tennis: Nadal/ Federer

    January 29, 2010 at 2:17 am | Reply
  17. Jared

    UNC vs. Duke absolutely deserves a spot on here.

    January 29, 2010 at 2:20 am | Reply
  18. cesar gevert

    Basebal- only US, Venezuela, cuba and japan like it, so it's not a world sport. thus, yankees/red sox is nothing

    Football: no one but americans watch that game, so it's not a big sport.

    College football and basketball are only american sports, no one else watches that around the world, so any rivalry is small compared to others around the world.

    Soccer: Biggest rivalry in sports: Brazil vs argentina. That's way bigger than any manchester or inter milan rivalry. It's 200 million people from one country against 100 million of the other one. These countries don't even like each other bc of soccer. Second biggest rivalry in soccer: Brazil vs Italy. there are 9 world cup titles (the world cup is the real deal, bc has countries from all over. It's ridiculous how americans call NBA champions "world champions"), and 2 finals against each other.
    3: corinthians vs palmeiras, flamengo vs fluminence, inter vs gremio

    european footbal is lame. the only way that they can have quality games is buying south americans and african players, bc they can't play at all. Their championships are all hyped and some teams don't even have 3 national players. The La Liga from spain is the lamest championship of them all. There are only 2 teams: real and barcelona. how can anyone call that league the best one in the world? the answer is: money. Football in europe is all about money and glamour, but most of the worshiped players are over hyped bc of media campaigns. Send Christiano ronaldo, henry, beckham, and other players to play in the brazilian or argentine league and they will not shine as they shine in europe

    January 29, 2010 at 2:26 am | Reply
  19. Sergio

    IN SOCCER, RAYADOS DE MONTERREY VS TIGRES UANL

    January 29, 2010 at 2:43 am | Reply
  20. MC

    Rugby: All Blacks vs Springboks

    Tennis: Sampras vs Agassi

    January 29, 2010 at 2:47 am | Reply
  21. Ryan

    AL Baseball: Yankees v. Red Sox
    NL Baseball: Phillies v. Mets
    NHL Hockey: Capitals v. Penguins/ Rangers v. Islanders
    American Football: Redskins v. Cowboys
    International Hockey: USA v. Canada v. Russia
    Swimming: USA v. Australia

    January 29, 2010 at 2:49 am | Reply
  22. Gustavo

    Soccer:
    1- Brazil vs. Argentina (as a Brazilian, the best thing in the world is winning a game versus Argentina)
    2- England vs. Argentina
    3- Real Madrid vs Barcelona
    4- Celtics vs. Rangers
    5- Panatinaykos vs Olimpiakus
    6- Germany vs England
    7- Flamengo vs Vasco (in Brazil)
    8- River Plate vs Boca Juniors
    9- Roma vs Lazio
    10- Egypt vs Algeria.

    January 29, 2010 at 3:03 am | Reply
  23. Abhinandan Reddy

    McLaren – Ferrari (F1)
    Federer – Nadal (Tennis)
    Yankees – Red Sox (Baseball)
    India – Pakistan (Cricket)
    Australia – England (Cricket) – Ashes
    India – Pakistan (Hockey)
    Manchester United – Liverpool (Football – EPL)
    Egypt – Algeria (Football – International)
    England – Argentina (Football – International)
    Real Madrid – Barcelona (Football – La Liga)
    Celtic – Rangers (Football – SPL) – Old Firm
    Inter – AC Milan (Football – Serie A)

    January 29, 2010 at 3:08 am | Reply
  24. Greg

    Rugby:
    South Africa (Spring Boks) vs New Zealand (All Blacks) vs Australia (Wallabies)

    January 29, 2010 at 3:20 am | Reply
  25. agustin

    Football – Boca juniors vs River Plate (argentina), Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs. Hapoel Tel-Aviv(israel)

    Tennis – Federer v Nadal

    Athletics – lui xiang vs robles

    rugby- new zealand vs australia, england vs france, samoa vs fiji

    January 29, 2010 at 3:23 am | Reply
  26. Jeremy

    Cricket: India vs Pakistan. This is the one rivalry where no matter how much lower either of teams are rated, we usually end up with a close one.

    January 29, 2010 at 3:26 am | Reply
  27. Limerick Jim

    American Football: Giants v Cowboys
    Baseball Yankees v Red Sox
    Soccer/Rugby England v Scotland
    Soccer/Rugby: England V Ireland
    Rugby: Munster v Leinster
    Ice Hockey: Devils v Rangers

    January 29, 2010 at 3:30 am | Reply
  28. Shin

    Japanese baseball: Tokyo GIants vs Osaka (Hanshin) Tigers

    January 29, 2010 at 3:32 am | Reply
  29. M.Booth

    Football
    England vs Germany
    Brazil Vs Argentina
    Man Utd vs Liverpool

    All these pale in comparison to India Vs Pakistan at Cricket however.

    January 29, 2010 at 3:48 am | Reply
  30. Hongyuan Gao

    soccer:chelsea v barcelona,a.c.milan v inter milan,barcelona v real madrid
    basketball:lakers v celtics
    tennis:federer v nadal
    snooker:hendry v o'sullivan

    January 29, 2010 at 3:55 am | Reply
  31. Roberto Gazzola

    soccer:
    Ac. Milan Juventus
    Roma Lazio
    Jventus Inter
    Italia France
    Liverpool Man Utd.

    January 29, 2010 at 3:56 am | Reply
  32. Bill

    NHL – Canadiens vs Bruins
    Letterman vs Leno

    January 29, 2010 at 4:21 am | Reply
  33. Jerry Bendiner

    In Soccer, there is no greater rivarly than River Plate – Boca Juniors.
    Period.
    End of story.

    January 29, 2010 at 4:45 am | Reply
  34. Greg

    Without a doubt, the greatest football rivalry (as well as the oldest), is the Auld Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers. The Milan derby and the Barca v Madrid match are close seconds. To suggest that ManUtd and Man City gets any sort of mention as a great rivalry is silly.

    January 29, 2010 at 4:53 am | Reply
  35. Sam

    Hockey in the 1970s and 1980s– Westville v Stellarton

    January 29, 2010 at 5:00 am | Reply
  36. Amir

    FEDERER V NADAL hands down. the best rivalry in sports. The difference in this one is that both of them dont hate each other, quite the opposite. They probably have the greatest respect for each others game, and you dont find that anywhere else, which is why they have the most special rivalry.

    January 29, 2010 at 5:05 am | Reply
  37. Egbon Benedict Nosazemen

    I'LL SAY MAN UNITED VS Man City.

    January 29, 2010 at 5:44 am | Reply
  38. leomarc allan castro mariano

    ginebra vs. purefoods

    January 29, 2010 at 5:44 am | Reply
  39. dennis

    Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals – baseball

    January 29, 2010 at 6:14 am | Reply
  40. Freddy

    Football: FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid

    Baseball: Yankees vs Red Sox

    Basketball: Lakers vs Celtics

    NCAA Football: Michigan vs Ohio state

    January 29, 2010 at 6:20 am | Reply
  41. Matty

    Ice Hockey
    Ranger vs, Devils

    January 29, 2010 at 6:33 am | Reply
  42. Dogefiesco

    Soccer : Brazil vs. Argentina
    Tenis: Borg vs. McEnroe
    Chess: Kasparov vs. Karpov

    January 29, 2010 at 6:35 am | Reply
  43. Kristen

    Soccer:

    Fenerbache v. Galatasary. It gets so brutal that fans have gone to the hospital and died.

    Chelsea v. Manchester United (Similar to Yankees v. Red Sox in the US)

    Real Madrid v. Barcelona

    Rangers v. Celtic

    USA v. Mexico

    Liverpool v. Manchester United

    Bayern Munich v. VfB Stuttgart

    Atl. Madrid v. Real Madrid

    France v. Italy (Especially after the whole Zidane headbutt thing)

    Tottenham Hotspur v. Arsenal

    Man City v. Man United...especially after the Tevez transfer

    Inter v. AC Milan

    Inter v. Juventus

    (After this year) France v. Ireland

    I would even go as far as to possibly say Australia v. Japan.

    January 29, 2010 at 6:55 am | Reply
  44. Zack Silverberg

    Ice Hockey: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens

    January 29, 2010 at 7:12 am | Reply
  45. VK

    England Vs Scotland for soccer

    January 29, 2010 at 7:31 am | Reply
  46. Chris C

    In Soccer:
    Spain – Barcelona vs Real Madrid (Popular Catlaluña vs the King's club)
    France – Marseille vs Paris St Germains (the popular rural south vs the State capital)
    England – the London derbys in general and Arsenal vs Totenham (the northern working class vs the well off suburb)
    Scotland – Celtics vs Rangers (the Glasgow rivalry)
    Brazil – Palmeiras vs Sao Paulo (One of Sao Paulo's derby) and Flamingo vs Fluminense (THE Rio derby "Fla-Flu in Maracana)
    Argentina – Boca Juniors vs River Plate (the poor suburb of Maradona vs the well off part of Buenos Aires)

    England vs France (in rugby as well, the enemy you like to love. Centuries of History are involved in that perennial Channel rivalry)
    France vs Germany (Same, History and World cup History gone bad)
    England vs Argentina (in all kinds of sports, tension due to the Falkland/Malvinas war between the country in the 80's)
    Brazil vs Argentina (the colored country against the Europeanized colony. The ever lasting problem question being who is the true Soccer king ? Maradona or Pelé)

    Olympics:
    USSR vs USA which has shifted to China vs USA (all part of the cold war era and now the economic war. The battlefield was moved to the stadiums where the athletes became the State gladiators and soldiers)

    January 29, 2010 at 7:45 am | Reply
  47. HYKaka

    Barcelona vs R.Madrid
    Liverpool vs Man United
    AC Milan vs Inter Milan
    Federer vs Nadal
    Lin Dan vs Chong wei

    January 29, 2010 at 7:55 am | Reply
  48. Cesar

    Barcelona – Real Madrid

    January 29, 2010 at 7:56 am | Reply
  49. Ann

    the Saints of course. Saints ! Saints ! WHO DAT !

    January 29, 2010 at 8:10 am | Reply
  50. Andrew

    RUGBY: South Africa (Springboks) present World Champions (viva!!)

    vs

    New Zealand (All Blacks)

    January 29, 2010 at 8:19 am | Reply
  51. Dharmalingam

    selangor vs melaka in football

    January 29, 2010 at 8:22 am | Reply
  52. John Andri

    Football: Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

    Basketball: Cleveland Cavaliers v LA Lakers

    Boxing: Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Tennis: Andy Roddick v Andy Murray

    FIFA World Cup: Spain v Brazil

    January 29, 2010 at 8:29 am | Reply
  53. wole

    Soccer- Barcelona Vs Realmadrid
    This is the greatest sports rivalry EVER.....

    January 29, 2010 at 8:40 am | Reply
  54. K-slay

    knicks vs pacers/heat. LJ four point play! Allan Houston floater vs MIA, REGGIE!!choke

    January 29, 2010 at 8:43 am | Reply
  55. RHearn

    Recently moved to Manchester (from Canada) and overwhelmed with the Man City vs Man United rivalry. It consumes virtually everyone, TV, radio, the web and print. I'd love to know what makes a Mancunian support one over the other but far greater minds than mine have tried and failed to define the criteria.

    With respect to last Wednesday's Carling Cup match, it seems City was too confident of their win, forgetting they had one more game to play and that against a very strong and organized Unitede squad. One has to assume City coaching and management failed to keep their team focused, playing the game on the field instead of the press. Thinking of celebrations over cross-town rivals instead of football.

    Bye the way; Go United.

    January 29, 2010 at 8:55 am | Reply
  56. Alberto

    Lance Armstrong v. Jan Ullrich

    January 29, 2010 at 9:03 am | Reply
  57. Daniel

    Football: USA v Mexico

    January 29, 2010 at 9:06 am | Reply
  58. Emanuele

    Soccer
    Inter – Juventus

    January 29, 2010 at 9:08 am | Reply
  59. G. Rodrigues

    In tennis, Bjorn Borg x John McEnroe still give me the shivers!

    January 29, 2010 at 9:20 am | Reply
  60. Les

    Football only but here are my thoughts;

    AC Milan vs Inter Milan
    Real Madrid vs Barcelona
    Leeds Utd vs Manchester Utd
    Celtic vs Rangers
    Liverpool vs Manchester Utd
    Arsenal vs Spurs

    January 29, 2010 at 9:47 am | Reply
  61. mike pollecutt

    what about the big johannesburg derby: kaiser Chief vs orlando pirates. that's hardcore.

    January 29, 2010 at 9:52 am | Reply
  62. Yunus Erdem

    Soccer
    Barcelona Vs. Madrid
    River vs Boca
    Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray
    Rangers vs Celtic

    January 29, 2010 at 9:59 am | Reply
  63. yoko

    Soccer – Brazil v/s Argentina
    Swimming – Phelps v/s thorpe
    Running – Asafa Powell v/s Bolt
    Hockey – Australia v/s Germany
    rugby – Australia V/S Newzealand
    Wrestling 🙂 – Bret Hart V/s undertaker
    Vishy Anand v/s Karpov

    January 29, 2010 at 10:33 am | Reply
  64. Nick

    How are you

    January 29, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  65. Martin

    Overall : Ryder Cup, US – EU, Golf. Nothing compares imo.

    Football: Real vs Barca, Brazil vs world

    Am.Foot: Pats vs Colts, who gets the fartherest this year(every year)

    F1: Ferrari vs other-top-team-of-the-year(varies)

    Golf: Tiger vs World. On that note, he should be a clear favourite for "the Players Championship" this year 😀 😀

    Tennis: BelgiumDuo vs Williams

    Snooker: Rocket vs Selby

    January 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  66. Gerhard Hachmann

    Rivalries in soccer? Try to imagine this one: The Catalan people, who strove for independence, lost against Franco and his fascist followers in the Spanish Civil War. After the war in an effort to subdue all opposition, the dictator forbade the Catalan people all forms of cultural expression, including traditional rituals, holidays, and even speaking their own language! (Franco made the Chinese Government look like liberal weenies) But there was a way to went the anger: Win against Real Madrid, the quintessential symbol of royal (read “Real”) fascism. In other words, the FC Barcelona was the vehicle for the Catalans to legally express their hatred against the fascist regime and the “Super Classico” the semi-annual opportunity to kick their buds in a peaceful way. Unlike the Basques, who actually use terrorism as a means to separate from Spain, the Catalans just like to beat them on the field. The FC Barcelona is more than a Club, its almost more than a national team, it's a cultural heritage and 3 million Catalans (all of them) watch the games against Madrid every season hoping that their team brings shame onto the royal team.

    January 30, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  67. adebanji alabi

    Pele vs maradona
    arsenal vs spurs
    nigeria vs ghana
    england vs argentina
    brazil vs argentina
    ac milan vs inter milan
    kasparov vs karpov
    roma vs lazio
    lakers vs celtics
    celtic vs rangers
    schumacher vs hakkinen
    venus vs serena

    January 30, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Reply
  68. Milan

    AC MILAN vs liverpoo

    August 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  69. ..........

    messi vs ronaldo
    barcelona vs real madrid
    brazil vs argentina
    india vs pakistan

    November 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Reply
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    October 6, 2012 at 12:28 am | Reply

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