Ranked! The 10 biggest fixtures in European football right now

Ranked! The 10 biggest fixtures in European football right now
(Image credit: Getty)

TV channels will tell you that every game is a must-watch. Of course, they want you to believe that you're the only one missing out from that early Championship kick-off.

But genuinely, some games are so watchable that you count down the days before them. We've been thinking about the best ones – and not just derbies: not just the clashes between the two biggest sides, either. Naturally, that helps in a game – but so does the current state of both clubs. 

We've chosen games that definitely happen every season, too. You might want to find when these ones are in the calendar…

10. Chelsea vs Manchester City

Last season's Champions League final could be one of the semi-finals of this. 

Manchester City and Chelsea are two of Europe's newest European superpowers but over the past decade or so, have cemented themselves as two of the more consistent English sides vying for trophies. They're the richest – and these days, two of the brightest, too.

With Thomas Tuchel locking horns against Pep Guardiola – often in cups as well as the league – the two managers set about this game like a chess encounter, slowly moving a left-back infield, tweaking the build-up structure or throwing a tactical surprise on one another. There's so much be learned by this game and so many stars to set it alight. 

3. Inter Milan vs AC Milan

Similarly to Scotland, Juventus secured nine titles in a row, before a brilliant blue machine stopped them in their tracks. These two teams are now closer than ever in quality.

What the Juventus/Inter rivalry lacks in personal animosity, however, it more than makes up for in other ways. Historically, these are two big hitters of Italian football and this is a match that can be used as a yardstick for either side. 

Both Juventus and Inter have been in flux relatively recently: but both know what a win over the other means.

8. Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund

Bayern vs Dortmund

(Image credit: Getty)

Der Klassiker's not what it used to be. A previously even match between the traditional Bavarian superpower and those rowdy underdogs from the west, this fixture has descended into David throwing rocks against Goliath. 

And though that's a shame, there's still plenty of intrigue in seeing Germany's closest challengers trying to dethrone the serial winners. There are top players on either side, incredible minds in the dugout and everyone knows the name of the game: Bayern are expected to win, and Dortmund have to find a way to stop them. 

Of late, it's been Bayern's best-earned win of the season and the best opportunity to see Julian Nagelsmann flex his brain. In the event of a shock, you're often witnessing a virtuoso performance. Who said one-sided matches have to be dull?

7. Lazio vs Roma

Lazio vs Roma

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The two giants of the Eternal City are small fry compared to the sides from the north. The last one of them to win a title was over 20 years ago now, when Roma completed the feat in 2001. 

In 2022, however, Lazio vs Roma is a bigger deal, with two managers well-known to English audiences in the dugout. The artistry of Maurizio Sarri at Lazio meets the hard-nosed pragmatism of Jose Mourinho: both are fiery customers, too (as if this match needed any more of that). 

The Roman clubs couldn't get bigger than the likes of Inter and Juve so have adapted to try and be smarter. This game has become one of the most fun in recent years as a result. 

6. Liverpool vs Chelsea

Mainz has got a lot to answer for, with two managers leaving the Bundesliga outfit to come and lead these two English clubs to Champions League trophies. 

In the 2000s' big four of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, the former two were the upstarts, looking to disrupt the status quo from the Fergie/Wenger monopoly. That sense of chaos has somehow always remained in this fixture, with 2022's League Cup final showing being arguably the most entertaining 0-0 in recent memory.

The league meeting after Christmas was just as frenetic, while the first between the Reds and Blues at the start of the season was high-tempo and intense. When two German press-happy coaches go to war against one another, it's always high octane. 

5. Arsenal vs Tottenham

Arsenal vs Tottenham

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Tottenham weren't even on Arsenal's radar in the 2000s. It was Manchester United that the Gunners so desperately wanted to beat – then Chelsea, with the injection of the Abramovich millions.

It was only when Pochettino dragged Spurs above the Gunners in the table that the North London Derby got its fire back, helped of course by former academy product Harry Kane scoring in just about every match. It's often scrappy, messy and typified by who can mark who out of the game: occasionally, it's a tactical masterclass from one side or the other.

But make no mistake: these two sides hate each other these days. The North London Derby is back to being one of the most heated in football. 

4. Celtic vs Rangers

Celtic vs Rangers

(Image credit: Getty)

Scottish football is seeing a resurgence. More Scots are playing at the top level of the Premier League, the national side made Euro 2020 and its two biggest sides are back to full strength.

Celtic and Rangers never needs too much introduction – but each Old Firm team getting shrewder tactically and the Gers closing the gap at the top has reinstated the flame at the heart of this age-old fixture. Rangers stopping the Celtic dominance really hurt the Bhoys – but they've bounced back to make this season a two-horse race. 

The hatred has only grown in recent seasons: now the quality has been raised as well. 

3. AC Milan vs Inter Milan

This season's Champions League was the first in a decade to feature either Milan side. It's testament to how these two are returning to the top.

Hakan Calhanoglu switching allegiances has only created more friction, as Serie A has simmered from a one-horse race into open season for Italian giants. Milan and Inter are at a similar level now, both with phenomenal young stars and wily coaches in either dugout. 

Who knows? Maybe we'll see this pair face off in the Champions League once again in future. 

2. Barcelona vs Real Madrid

El Clasico

(Image credit: Getty)

El Clasico was king for so long. Then came the shock to the system as Cristiano Ronaldo left, before autumn's Clasico hitting rock bottom without Messi.

But both Real Madrid and Barcelona are resurgent once more, both led by club legends (for entirely different reasons). Barca look like a superpower once more after a phenomenal January window while Real Madrid are marching towards the title. 

This fixture may have lost its sparkle for a little while – but you just can't keep it down. 

1. Manchester City vs Liverpool

Manchester City vs Liverpool

(Image credit: Getty)

It's now the yardstick for everyone. The two best coaches in the world, the two most exciting attacks and some would argue the best goalkeepers, centre-backs, full-backs and midfielders on either side.

Manchester City and Liverpool fans have grown to dislike one another a little more in  recent seasons but for the rest of us, this is the most exciting clash of the season. No one else is on the level of either of these teams and the recent history hasn't disappointed, either – whether in the league or in Europe. 

With the pair meeting in April at the Etihad, the title could be decided by this game once more – while a Champions League final between the pair is wholly possible. We just can't get enough of it.

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.