Bragging rights. Players who “get it”. The only time we ever hear the phrase ‘blood and thunder’ used to describe a football match.
Of course we are talking about local derbies.
These fixtures have a special aura around them and with the Old Firm, Milan and Merseyside derbies taking place this weekend, we thought it would be wise to ask our writers what they think is the best derby in European football …
It hasn’t been the best in the last couple of years, but let’s not forget how good the Manchester derby was a few years ago.
There were some incredible matches between City and United when both clubs were vying for the Premier League title and even before City got their money, there was always the possibility of an upset in this fixture.
Oh and while I’m here, Manchester United vs Liverpool may be a massive game, but it is not a derby.
Going to go north of the English border for this one and say Rangers v Celtic.
Derbies often fall into different categories in terms of atmosphere, quality of football and what’s at stake for the winners and for the most part, this derby has it all.
They challenge each other at the summit of Scottish football, more than challenge for the ball on the pitch (see Scott Brown for reference) and the fans absolutely rise to the occasion inside the stadium.
As a total neutral I can safely say that the game I look forward to most every season in the Premier League is the north London derby.
It’s a game that never, ever disappoints, whether it’s David Bentley’s 40 yard volley, Cesc Fabregas jinking his way past four Tottenham defenders, Sol Campbell’s White Hart Lane ‘welcome ‘or last season’s epic 2-2 draw.
It’s a match that has everything, all the time.
Although to be fair, that might change now José Mourinho has had his wicked way with these Spurs lads.
Similar to the Manchester derby, El Derbi Madrileño has tended to disappoint in recent years, but let’s not forget how good it can be.
Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid has been the Champions League final twice in recent years with Atleti’s hearts being broken on both occasions.
The fixture is a tale of the underdog, less glamorous younger brother outshone by their neighbours who happen to be one of the biggest names in the sport, and in the Diego Simeone era the gap has closed somewhat. That’ll do for me.
There’s no need to watch what’s happening on Milan or Merseyside when you can tune in to the Glasgow derby to watch Celtic take on Rangers.
With the politics, history and religion, nothing else comes close.
From the Nordderby (Hamburg v Bremen) to the Rheinisches Derby (Gladbach v Köln), Germany just does derbies right. So how can you argue with the one German fans call “The Mother of all Derbies”? Dortmund v Schalke.
The best derbies are fierce but also well-balanced. This one has both in abundance, with 34 Dortmund wins, 32 Schalke wins and 30 draws in the Bundesliga.
These games tend to be end-to-end, completely unpredictable, and always on the verge of exploding on the pitch and in the stands. Sign me up!
With all the obvious options already taken, I’m nominating the Eternal Derby between Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split.
This rivalry dates back to 1920 and originally formed over political issues, but fans of these two clubs could probably argue over chocolate bars or what colour socks to wear.
It’s aggressive, partizan and some of the fan pyrotechnics look incredible from the stands. It’s everything a derby should be.