Football's most intense derbies from rivalries in Mexico to Indonesia

Karan Tejwani 14:41 07/01/2020
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  • Independiente supporters celebrate a derby success

    Each country has its own rivalries when it comes to football. Whether it’s tied to politics, social class, religion or on-pitch success, there is always a reason for discords to be created in the game.

    Here are some rivalries from around the world that garner just as much passion and history as some of the more mainstream clashes across Europe and South America.

    Club America x Chivas Guadalajara (Mexico)


    This rivalry follows the two most successful sides in Mexico. America have 13 league titles to their name, while Guadalajara are just one behind.

    America are arguably the most popular club in Mexico, with a vast following and a knack for buying international players. In contrast, Guadalajara are reputed for developing their homegrown talent.

    The two sides first met in 1943 but it wasn’t until the 1950s their rivalry intensified. Guadalajara’s success in that period infuriated their rivals and the boiling point was reached in 1983.

    The ‘Brawl of ‘83’ was an on-field brawl involving both sets of players and staff during a play-off semi-final. After that came the era of America, as they went on to establish an era of dominance in the country.

    Although there is great animosity between the two clubs, there is one piece of history they proudly share: they’re the only two clubs in Mexican league history to have never been relegated.

    Independiente x Racing Club (Argentina) 


    Buenos Aires isn’t just popular for the Boca Juniors/River Plate Superclasico. The Avellaneda derby between Independiente and Racing Club has its roots all the way back in 1907.

    A group of students from the Colegio Nacional Central formed Football Club Barrcas al Sud in 1901. Disagreements formed another club, Colorados Unidos Del Sol, but in March 1903, the two came together and Racing Club was born.

    In 1904, a group of disgruntled members of the store A la ciudad de Londres were disappointed at not playing enough so they formed their own club, Independiente. The two sides had their first meeting in 1907.

    The close proximity of the two teams has intensified the rivalry. Separated by just three blocks, the animosity between the two is rife.

    Combined the two sides make up nine percent of Argentina’s total football support, according to a Gallop poll. Famous results include a 7-0 Independiente win in 1940 and perhaps more recently, a 3-1 Racing win last year which spurred them on to win the Superliga Argentina.

    Matches between the two have seen it all from a fans perspective: from eight red cards in 1961 to riots and tear gas in 2006 – this fixture has plenty of intrigue.

    Lyon x Saint-Etienne (France) 


    Although not a ‘local’ derby, the clash between Lyon and Saint-Etienne is linked to social circumstances.

    Saint-Etienne represents the working class coal miners, seeing as it was in their region where many of them were based, while Lyon stands for the white-collar merchants.

    Much like many other rivalries in the world, the clash between the two is twined with their social classes and the atmosphere when the two face off is always pretty wild.

    Saint-Etienne established their French dominance in the 1970s and looked the more superior of the two. That was until Lyon set out on their own path of success in the 2000s.

    Saint-Etienne, however, began to decline in the 1980s and have struggled to replicate their glory days. Recent years have seen them sporadically participate in European competition.

    Lyon are proving to be a sustainable club in recent times. While trophies have been rare, their recent development line has included the likes of Corentin Tolisso, Nabil Fekir and Ferland Mendy.

    Persija Jakarta x Persib Bandung (Indonesia) 


    Indonesia doesn’t gather much mainstream attention for its football, but the rivalry between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung is one of the most intense in Asia.

    Deeply rooted in history, the origins of this rivalry go all the way back to 1933 when the two were in competition for the country’s league title.

    In recent years, however, the rivalry between the two has accelerated, becoming extremely violent and hostile. Matches between both clubs are always tense, but it is the off-pitch action which makes headlines.

    The most recent high-profile incident came in 2018, when a Persija fan was killed by a crowd of Persib supporters. This only tightened security measures around the venue as tensions can become rife.

    On the pitch itself, Persija, the club from Indonesia’s capital, have the bragging rights. They boast 12 trophies to their name including 11 league titles while Persib have just eight.

    The numbers are in their favour in terms of head-to-head clashes as well – a marginal 33 wins to 32 in Persija’s favour.

    MC Alger x USM Alger (Algeria) 


    A rivalry linked to religion, MC Algiers claim to be the first Muslim football club in a colonised Algeria when they were formed in 1921. Their rivals, USM Algiers, were born 16 years later.

    The two clubs are extremely loyal to their region and background. MC Alger’s colours are green, white and red – a homage to Algeria’s flag while USM Alger sport a red strip with a hint of black as a tribute to those killed in the Setif Massacres in 1945, when French police fired at anti-colonisation protesters.

    Both clubs have a passionate following and are two of the most successful clubs in Algeria. MC Alger can boast 22 trophies to their name, while USM Alger are just a tad behind with 19.

    Historically, however, USM have held the upper hand. When the Algerian league became professional in 1962 following their independence, they won the very first edition of the league. MC Alger, although forced into decade-long wait, came back strongly but still have one fewer league title.

    Like many historic derbies in world football, this one too has a history of fierce passion and violence. In the past, flares and fireworks have been widely visible, while fan violence isn’t rare. This is undoubtedly the biggest game in Algeria.