Football is adored worldwide because its much more than just a sporting event. Behind that sheer spectacle are wider cultural, regional, political and historic implications that make certain matches, teams and players revered above many others.
Such tangible elements give rise to clashes whose significance permeates that of the regular season fixture and whose very outcome defines the game as a whole for many die-hard supporters around the globe. Let us have a llok at some of the biggest rivalries in German football.
Considering various factors like history, hype, importance, ticket sales and tv ratings etc, here are the 10 biggest rivalries in German football.
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10. Hamburger vs. St. Pauli (Hamburg Derby)
The rivalry between HSV and St. Pauli is a big one. The two clubs have rarely played in the same league but the animosity between the two sets of fans is no less intense than that of other major European city derbies. It’s the sort of game that is regularly preceded by HSV fans routinely greeting their counterparts with a barrage of bottles, or vice versa.
9. Frankfurt vs Offenbach (Mainderby)
A lot of the conflict between Frankfurt and Offenbach goes back to 1963, when the Bundesliga was formed. The problem arose when 46 teams applied for admission to a 16-team league. From the 5 regional leagues, sides were selected based on economic criteria, on field success and overall representation from the different regions.
The complex selection process put Kickers Offenbach at a disadvantage despite performing better than Eintracht since the regional league’s inception in 1945. Offenbach and their supporters felt hard done by and many Offenbach supporters to be a primary reason for the club’s decline afterwards.
8. Borussia Dortmund vs Borussia Mönchengladbach (Borussen derby)
Gladbach and Dortmund are neither regional rivals nor direct competitors, in the sense that these days, Dortmund are aiming for perennial trophies while Gladbach are trying to get a foothold in European competition. But the Borussen derby remains a notable feature of the Bundesliga season. It is a match with just that little bit extra at stake if only for the name of Borussia itself. It is one of the present biggest rivalries in German football.
7. Hannover vs. Eintracht Braunschweig (Niedersachsen derby)
Hannover 96 against Eintracht Braunschweig is not just a football game. Because the Niedersachsen derby is far more than a neighborhood competition, the two cities united only one thing: a centuries-old rivalry and a profound aversion in the fan camps of both clubs.
6. Bayern Munich vs Nuremberg (Bavarian Derby)
FC Nürnberg has been Bayern’s main and traditional rival in Bavaria. Philipp Lahm once said that playing Nuremberg is always special and is a heated derby. Both clubs played in the same league in the mid-1920s, but in the 1920s and 1930s, Nürnberg was far more successful, winning five championships in the 1920s, making the club Germany’s record champion.
Bayern took over the title more than sixty years later, when they won their tenth championship in 1987, thereby surpassing the number of championships won by Nürnberg. It remains one of the biggest rivalries in German football.
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5. Karlsruher vs Stuttgart (Baden-Württemberg Derby)
The Baden-Württemberg-Derby between VfB Stuttgart and Karlsruher SC is the biggest game for both the clubs. In this derby, old Badenese-Württembergian animosities are played out.
The rivalry between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart is location-specific, both cities separate almost 75km, in the middle of the two cities is Pforzheim, a city in which there are fans of both teams.
4. FC Koln (Cologne) vs Borussia Monchengladbach (Rhine derby)
Rhine derby took a little while to get going but, once lit, it has since burned as hot as any in Germany. While Cologne were cruising to the inaugural Bundesliga title, one of the club’s favorite sons, Hennes Weisweiler, took charge of second-division Gladbach.
The former Cologne player and coach, for whom their famous goat mascot Hennes VIII is named, guided his new club into the Bundesliga, where they experienced great success and built the foundation of what grew into one of Germany’s premier clubs.
Meanwhile, the Billy Goats stagnated and failed to live up to the expectation of dominating the region as the big-city club. By the time player-coach Günter Netzer scored the game-winning goal for Gladbach against Cologne in the 1973 DFB Cup final, the animus between the two sets of fans had become a permanent fixture of any meeting between them.
3. Hamburger vs Werder Bremen (Nord derby)
The Nordderby is the rivalry between Hamburger SV and Werder Bremen, the two most successful and popular clubs in Northern Germany. Beyond football, there is also a rivalry between the cities of Hamburg and Bremen, which are only separated by a hundred kilometers and they are also the two biggest metropolises in this part of the country.
Since their first meeting in a preliminary round of the North German championship, these teams have played 154 competitive matches. HSV has 53 of those matches, while Werder Bremen has won 58. It is undoubtedly, one of the biggest rivalries in German football.
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2. Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich (Der Klassiker)
This is no neighbourhood turf war – nor is it even a battle for regional pride. It is unconventional to class this as a true “rivalry” given that Munich and Dortmund lie nearly 600 kilometres apart. The fan bases, though, are not shy about making plain their feelings for one another as this rivalry was born out of pure competition between the clubs to be the best.
The biggest moment in the history of this relatively young rivalry took place in neither the Allianz Arena nor Signal Iduna Park. In 2013, the two teams met at London’s Wembley Stadium in the 2013 UEFA Champions League final. Bayern won a memorable match 2-1 on the way to completing a historic treble under Jupp Heynckes.
This game has huge following from outside of Germany too. Its safe to say that is is among the biggest rivalries in German football.
1. Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke (Revier derby)
There is plenty at stake whenever these clubs meet on the football field. From local bragging rights to either solidifying or getting into one of the European places, this derby is very intense.
When the clubs first met in 1925, not many could have predicted how fierce the rivalry would grow, but with the help of a number of intense and significant matches, it has become arguably the biggest derby in German football.
Most heated rivalries sustain biggest differences such as religion, politics, social class status, ethnic nature reasons, etc, but none of them applies to the Revierderby as their cities and their support are very similar. On one hand, Dortmund was powered by steel and beer. On the other, Gelsenkirchen was built on coal but both are working-class and have been affected the same by recessions.
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