FourFourTwo's 50 Biggest Derbies in the World: 40-31

Round two of FFT's countdown of football's biggest rivalries includes plenty of riot police, Barcelona (not that one) and the Eternal Derby...

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Words: Gary Parkinson and Chris Flanagan

#FFTderbies The 50 Biggest Derbies in the World: list and features here

40. America vs Deportivo Cali

If you want to win a Copa Libertadores final, don’t come from the south-western Colombian city of Cali. Deportivo have lost both their finals, while neighbours America are South America’s footballing bridesmaids, losing all four of their finals – three in consecutive years from 1985 to 1987, the last in the final 10 seconds. Ouch. The pair have fared better domestically – Deportivo have nine titles and America 13, putting them third in the all-time Colombian rankings behind Atletico Nacional and Millonarios. And once America had been officially founded in 1927, it didn’t take long for this fixture to flare up.

Their first meeting took place in a 1931 cup final, Deportivo triumphing 1-0 after America had two goals disallowed. Los Diablos Rojos (you can probably guess at the translation) protested at the result, hitting back with… angry leaflets, circulated in the area. Somehow that angered Cali’s football authorities to such an extent that they gave the club a one-year suspension from local competitions. To get around the problem, America went on tour, becoming the first Colombian side to do so. And wanderlust became a tradition: in January 2016, the clubs played a pre-season friendly in Miami. It took just 17 minutes to produce a straight red card. CF

READ THIS: More Than A Game: America vs Deportivo Cali

39. Hamburg vs St. Pauli

A bit of a weird one, this rivalry. Or rather, St. Pauli is a bit of a weird club, leaving Hamburger SV as the straight man to its kooky oddness. Either way, this is rated by German police as the most violent derby in German football. HSV is undoubtedly the bigger club – six national titles, five European finals and by far the better record in this derby – while St. Pauli became the original hipsters’ favorites, embracing rock music and the red-light district while cracking down on the nationalistic hooliganism that was blighting other German teams in the 1980s.

Although the teams haven’t always been on a level playing field, St. Pauli’s 1947 win in the Hamburg championship established an enmity that exists to this day. In 2011, HSV reseeded its pitch four days before the derby, which was subsequently postponed after torrential rain: cue mickey-taking from St. Pauli and an attack by HSV hooligans on a rival pub. At the rearranged match, which turned out to be St. Pauli’s first derby win in 34 years, riot police stormed and pepper-sprayed the away end. Just another quiet night in Hamburg… GP

FFT’s 100 Best Stadiums: Volksparkstadion • Millerntor

38. Alianza Lima vs Universitario

Meet the two most successful clubs in Peru. Formed in 1901 by workers from the local horse stud, Alianza has been champion 23 times, three fewer than its Lima neighbor Universitario (founded, as the name suggests, by students and professors at the National University of San Marcos, in 1924). The first Clasico in 1928 rather set the tone. Plucky upstarts Universitario went ahead, and established giant Alianza didn’t take it well, losing five players to red cards before the game was called off. Alianza supporters tried to storm the section housing Universitario fans, who responded by throwing canes, earning the match the moniker El Clasico de los Bastonazos (batons).

Universitario certainly have the bigger stadium: the brilliantly bonkers 80,000-capacity Estadio Monumental is more than twice the size of Alianza’s Estadio Alejandro Villanueva. One might think the death of the entire Alianza squad in a 1987 plane crash would calm the rivalry a tad, but no: the clubs met in the Copa Libertadores a year later and the tie had to be abandoned (again) after Alianza had three players dismissed and claimed two more needed to go off due to injury. But the most shocking incident occurred in 2011, when Universitario hooligans broke into an executive box at Monumental and hurled a 23-year-old Alianza fan to his death. CF

FFT's 100 Best Stadiums: Estadio Monumental

37. CSKA Sofia vs Levski Sofia

Contrary to its name, the Eternal Derby started later than most: although they have roots in an older army team, CSKA were only founded in 1948. Perhaps realising they were late to the party, the new outfit promptly set about dominating Bulgarian football (winning eight top-flight titles in the 1950s), but not without a fierce fight from older club Levski: over the next six decades CSKA won 31 league titles and Levski 26. Neither club has won the league since 2008, but that only makes the derbies more important to the success-starved fans.

The sides reached Peak Derby during the 1985 Bulgarian Cup final. In a game including a handled goal, two iffy penalties and two red cards, some of referee Asparuh Yasenov’s decisions were perhaps questionable; certainly Levski goalkeeper Bobby Mihailov was irked enough to twice hit the ref. CSKA won 2-1 but upon the final whistle, the ongoing scuffles morphed into a full-sized tear-up which lasted several minutes despite the attempted intervention of the handy Bulgarian police. The ruling Communist Party stepped in with typical subtlety, dissolving both clubs and handing life bans to five players including a teenage Hristo Stoichkov. The bans and disbanding were later overturned, while Mihailov – after a brief spell at Reading most notable for his dodgy hairpiece – later joined the big-wigs as president of the Bulgarian FA. GP

36. Cerro Porteno vs Olimpia

Nine out of 10 Paraguayan football fans support one or other of these teams from the capital, Asuncion. Olimpia was Paraguay’s first club, founded in 1902 by Dutchman William Paats and named after the Greek city of Olympia, and was originally associated with the elite. Cerro Porteno – named after a battlefield where the Paraguayans repelled the massed forces of Argentina in 1811, although that hasn’t stopped the club appointing several Argentine managers, including Tata Martino and Ossie Ardiles – is from the district of Obrero, which means ‘worker’, with most of the club’s fans coming from a humble background.

The first derby ended in farce when Olimpia didn’t turn up, and in 1969 Cerro Porteno’s Miguel Angel Sosa angered rival fans with some barefaced cheek, rounding the keeper and sitting on the ball before rolling it home. A derby clash in 2009 proved to be one to forget for Olimpia’s Dario Caballero: the ex-Cerro Porteno defender (traitor!) headed the only goal of the game into his own net, needed treatment for a head wound after being floored by a block of ice thrown from the crowd, and was one of five players sent off. CF

READ THIS: More Than A Game: Cerro Porteno vs Olimpia