Noisy neighbours: what are the biggest rivalries in Spanish football? 

 Football remains one of Spain’s most loved sports, although a strong affinity for a certain team can also produce a contrasting profound hostility towards a rival club. 

Up and down the country, Spain boasts some of the fiercest rivalries in world football – here is a look at the three biggest. 

El Clasico

It only makes sense to start with the biggest derby of them all. El Clasico is a rivalry between the two biggest cities in Spain, which dates all the way back to 1902. Games between Barcelona and Real Madrid are always hotly contested affairs between two sides constantly battling for league and cup glory – both domestically and in Europe.  

2022-23 is no different as Barcelona appear to have the upper hand in La Liga. Xavi’s side boasted a nine-point gap at the summit after 24 league matches, giving them favourable odds of 1/25 to be crowned champions when users place a football bet. Madrid, on the other hand, have the bragging rights on the continent, having won a record 14 European titles while watching on – likely with glee – as Barca crashed out at the group stages of the last two Champions League campaigns.  

The Seville Derby 

The derby between two of Andalusia’s most famed sides is as hot as the territory they find themselves in. Sevilla FC was formed way back in 1890 before Betis FC emerged as a result of an internal split. By 1914, this latter side had merged with another local entity, Sevilla Balompie, to form what the club is in its current state, Real Betis Balompie. The first derby took place on 8 October 1915, which Sevilla won 4-3. 

Sevilla have generally celebrated more success over the years, particularly in Europe. Betis, meanwhile, only won their fourth major trophy last campaign with the 2021-22 Copa del Rey. Sevilla also have the upper hand in league meetings between the two, both in head-to-head results and in end-of-season rankings. 

The Madrid Derby 

While Madrid’s most famed rivalry is against Barcelona, their feud with noisy neighbours Atletico is also a fiery affair. Borne out of Athletic Club de Bilbao’s triumph over Madrid in the 1903 Copa del Rey final, it is thought that a selection of students of Basque origin decided to form an offshoot club of Athletic Bilbao that same year. Athletic Club Madrid was thus formed and was the only side to stand up to the hegemony of Madrid FC at the time, who were accumulating the capital’s best players and making smaller clubs defunct. 

With origins in the early 1900s, both sides have since enjoyed respective periods of dominance. Madrid’s domestic and European success during the 1950s and ’60s and the resurgence of Atletico in the 1970s  helped to fuel the feuds between both sets of fans throughout the 20th Century. In total, though, Madrid have dominated the wins, particularly in the modern day with the most notable victories coming in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 Champions League finals. 

Of course, there are countless other rivalries up and down the country, such as the Derbi Barceloni and El Viejo Clasico, to name a few. 

For now, though, these three remain Spain’s most fiercely contested and have become almost cultural events around which fans come together and celebrate multiple times a season. 

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