Every major footballing country in the world has some great local rivalries. Some of those rivalries run deeper than others. Italy is home to some of the fiercest football clubs in the world. In this article, let us have a look at some of the biggest rivalries in Italian football.
Here are the top 10 biggest rivalries in Italian football.
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10. Hellas Verona vs Chievo
The Derby della Scala between Chievo and Hellas Verona is one of the Serie A’s youngest rivalries. It wasn’t until 2001 that the first top-flight derby between them took place.
In the 2001–02 season, both Hellas and Chievo were playing in Serie A. The first ever derby of Verona in Serie A took place on 18 November 2001, while both teams were ranked among the top four. The match was won by Hellas, 3–2. Chievo got revenge in the return match in spring 2002, winning 2–1.
Hellas Verona and Chievo are now looking for Serie A stability and the teams are closely matched. So far the clubs have met 19 times with both teams registering 7 wins.
9. Juventus vs Napoli
Juventus and Napoli are two of the biggest clubs in Italian football and the meeting between them is one of Italian football’s classic rivalries. On the field, it has pitted some of Serie A’s finest players against each other; the goal-scoring genius of Juve’s Roberto Bettega and Napoli’s José Altafini and also the flair of Michel Platini and Diego Maradona.Both teams have storied histories and both have laid claim to glorious eras, albeit Juve’s being far greater in frequency.
The Northern/Southern divide in Italy has always been existent. Some Northern Italians overlook the South, wishing to undo the Risorgimento in 1861. To differentiate between the North and the South think of this: Industry vs. Underdevelopment.
There is nothing that sums up the differences and problems better than Maradona’s quote before the World Cup semi-final in 1990.
I don’t like the fact that now everybody is asking Neapolitans to be Italian and to support their national team. Naples has always been marginalised by the rest of Italy. It is a city that suffers the most unfair racism.
Much of the enmity between the clubs is rooted in social and sporting history, and in truth runs deeper one way than the other. The South of Italy was very poor. Turin, an industrial hub and the seat of Italy’s royal family, stood in sharp contrast to Naples, a sprawling and chaotic city at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.
Each time Juventus and Napoli meet, these regional identities are accentuated, laying bare profound divisions. And this deep-rooted territorial rivalry is often manifested, making it one of the biggest rivalries in Italian football.
8. Genoa vs Sampdoria
The Derby della Lanterna, played by U.C. Sampdoria, and Genoa is one of the most intense matches in Italian football. The buzz in the city before the game ensnares anyone and everyone in the city of Genoa .
Derby only being 70 years old, it has evolved into one of the most enigmatic in Serie A, and could soon become as important as its Roman and Milanese counterparts.
No matter how badly the Genoese teams are doing, their fans put on a display that is equal to the Derby Della Madonnina or the Derby Della Capitale. And the rivalry has evolved since Sampdoria burst onto the scene in 1946. Back then, Genoa were considered the big club, having won 9 league titles, finishing runners-up eight times and winning a Coppa Italia in the bargain.
This didn’t seem to faze Sampdoria at all, the new men in town winning the first ever Derby 3-0 in front of 45,000 fans. The clubs have won 98 times, of which 38 games have been won by Sampdoria and 24 by Genoa.
7. Juventus vs Torino
The Derby della Mole, is the local derby, played out between Turin’s most prominent football clubs Juventus and Torino. It is named after the Mole Antonelliana, a major landmark in the city and the architectural symbol of the Piedmontese capital.
A lot of unfortunate incidents have took place between these two clubs. In 1967 after a derby Torino won 4–0, incensed Juventus fans vandalized the grave of former Torino player Gigi Meroni.
Prior to a derby match during the 2007–08 season, riots took place and chaos broke out as police tried to control the hooligans involved. There were 40 arrests made and 2 injured policemen. Rubbish bins were set on fire and many cars and shops vandalized as a result.
Overall, Juventus have won the derby 104 times and Torino have won it 73 times. There have been 62 draws, with 374 goals in favour of Juventus and 317 goals scored for Torino. It is definitely, one of the biggest rivalries in Italian football.
6. Roma vs Napoli
The Derby del Sole or The Derby of the Sun, played between S.S.C. Napoli and A.S. Roma is among the biggest rivalries in Italian football. The two clubs are considered the most followed and successful outside of Northern Italy; Roma being from Central Italy and Napoli from Southern Italy.
The south of Italy has always had a strained relationship with the rest of the country. The south are angered by what they see as this aristocratic arrogance from those who look down upon them. It is not surprising therefore that this should carry itself on to the football field when teams from each side of the divide meet.
Geography also plays a part in the derby as the clubs are relatively close in proximity with Rome lying just over 100 miles north of Naples in Central Italy.
The sides first met each other on league duty in the 1929/30 season and, perhaps fittingly, the match in Rome ended in a 2-2 draw. In the 164 meetings between these teams so far, Roma were victorious on 62 occasions while Napoli won 49 times.
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5. Pisa vs Livorno
A mere twenty miles separate Pisa and Livorno and while Tuscany is renowned for its beauty and culture, the region also contains numerous towns and cities which have been vying for power and independence for countless centuries.
Livorno and Pisa have spent much of their history erratically scaling between divisions, the amaranto’s most successful season came back in the 1942-1943 campaign where they finished runners-up in a pre-World War Two Serie A.
Like their counterparts on the Tyrrhenian coast, Pisa’s most successful season came before World War II in 1920/1921 when they also finished second. This is among one of the biggest rivalries in Italian football.
4. Palermo vs Catania
Fourth in our list of ”biggest rivalries in Italian football” is The derby between Calcio Catania and U.S. Città di Palermo, called ”The Derby di Sicilia”.
On the streets of Palermo, the Sicilian capital, you can often find a slogan spray-painted on the walls, it reads “Forza Etna”. Forza meaning “go” and Etna being the Volcano which leers ominously over the city of Catania, their most hated of rivals. It’s a visceral message from the Palermo ultra’s urging the island’s famous volcano to erupt once more and engulf Calcio Catania. Such is the hatred between the clubs.
However, they have seldom played each other within the Italian football league system, because in many seasons they have played in separate divisions of the league. The first time the Sicilian derby took place in the context of league football was on November 1, 1936, at Palermo in Serie B level; it ended in a 1–1 draw.
The Sicilian derby has been played 10 times in Serie A: Catania leading their rivals by 5 victories to Palermo’s 4; the other occasion was drawn.
The most notorious derby was on 2 February 2007, when 40-year-old policeman Filippo Raciti died in Catania from severe liver injuries during riots following the derby.For the 2007 season, all Palermo fans were banned from Catania’s Stadio Massimino for the Catania-Palermo match on December 2, 2007. Catania subsequently proceeded to defeat Palermo 3–1, a historic derby win for Catania, their first in Serie A.
3. A.C Milan vs Inter Milan
The Derby della Madonnina or the Milan Derby, played between the two prominent Milanese clubs Internazionale and AC Milan, is one of the biggest games in Italian football. It is called Derby della Madonnina in honour of one of the main sights in the city of Milan, the statue of the Virgin Mary on the top of the Duomo, which is often referred to as the Madonnina.
On December 16th 1899 Alfred Edwards, the former vice-consul in Milan and a member of Milan’s high society founded Milan Cricket and Football Club. There was a strong English driving force behind the team and half a dozen of the associations original members were English – and the son of a Nottingham butcher was the club’s first captain. For a while things were all good, with Milan picking up the title in 1901, 1906 and 1907.The triumph of 1901 was particularly relevant because it ended the consecutive series of wins of Genoa, which had been the only team to have won the title prior to 1901.
On 9 March 1908, issues over the signing of foreign players led to a split and the foundation of Football Club Internazionale.The first meeting of the clubs was played in Chiasso, 50 miles north of Milan and actually in Switzerland,which AC Milan won 2-1.
Since then these clubs have met 218 times and Inter have just edged their rivals AC Milan by 80-76 wins. However Milan have won more trophies than Inter.
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2. Inter vs Juventus
The Derby d’Italia is the name given to the match between Internazionale and Juventus. The derby d’Italia, as the fixture was dubbed in 1967 by the famous Italian sports journalist Gianni Brera is one of the most intense matches in world football. With a fierce rivalry that is so deeply rooted in each club’s history.
The rivalry between these clubs started 1961. in In April of 1961 second placed Inter travelled to Turin to take on first placed Juventus, and like the situation this season Inter were only four points behind the league leaders. Confidence was high for the Nerazzurri after winning the Milan leg of the fixture earlier in the season, and the team were hopeful to repeat the result and close the gap on first place.
Unfortunately, more fans than the stadium could hold turned up to see the game resulting in around 5000 spilling out from the stands to watch from the sidelines and even from the Inter bench. Despite the extreme overcrowding the game started as planned, but after just 30 minutes of play the referee called for the match to be abandoned when Juventus fans stormed the pitch.
According to the rules at that time Inter were rightly awarded a 2-0 win, just as Juventus had been in similar circumstances a few seasons previously, but Juventus took offence to this decision and appealed to the Italian football governing body, the FIGC.
On the last day of the season, the court ruled that Inter’s win wouldn’t stand and the game would have to be replayed,much to the fury of Inter president Angelo Moratti and club supporters. Moratti accused the Italian football association of favouritism due to the Agnelli family’s influence, as Umberto Agnelli(president of Juventus FC )was FIGC head at that time.In the eyes of Inter, the players and the fans this ruling virtually handed Juve the Scudetto.
Inter president Angelo Moratti and legendary coach Helenio Herrera decided the Nerazzurri would play the match, but to show it for the farce that it was they fielded the youth team in protest. The outcome was a 9-1 destruction of Inter by Juve and a rivalry that continues today was born. Juventus striker Omar Sívori scored six goals in the match and went on to win the Ballon d’Or that year.
The rivalry was refueled during the Calciopoli scandal in 2006,when Juventus were stripped of their league title in 2006 and it was given to Inter.
Overall the clubs have met in 231 official matches ,of which Juventus have won 108 and Inter have won 72 matches. It takes the second place in ”biggest rivalries in Italian football”.
Checkout:Juventus Greatest Players Ever
1. Lazio vs Roma
The Derby della Capitale is considered to be the fiercest intra-city derby in the country ahead of the other major local derbies.
Roma was founded in 1927 as a result of a merger between three teams: Roman, Alba-Audace and Fortitudo, initiated by Italo Foschi. It was the intention of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to create a unified Roman club to challenge the dominance of Northern clubs.Due to the influence of Fascist general, Giorgio Vaccaro, Lazio were the only major team from Rome to resist the merger, thus a kind of rivalry emerged from the very early years of the coexistence in the same city.
In a nutshell the Lazio fans are considered by their Roma counterparts as being outsiders i.e. not from the city of Rome. Lazio fans retort by informing the Roma tifosi that they were here first. The year 1900 to be precise. Twenty seven years before Roma became a club.
The first ever Derby della Capitale was played on 8 December 1929, and ended 1–0 for Roma with a goal by Rodolfo Volk.Lazio won their derby match 2-1 on 23 October 1932.
On 29 November 1953 was the date of the first derby in the Stadio Olimpico, and finished with a 1–1 draw with goals by Carlo Galli (Roma) and Paquale Vivolo (Lazio).
The clubs have met 184 times with Roma winning 72 of those compared to Lazio’s 53.