They still mean something...
Neither club considers the other to be their primary adversaries, but there's still no love lost between Arsenal and Chelsea. Ahead of the two London sides' meeting, we've picked out some of the best secondary rivalries from across the globe...
Leeds vs Manchester United (England)
Leeds and Manchester United haven't locked horns in a league game in more than a decade and a half, but the enmity still runs deep. The larger regional friction between Yorkshire and Lancashire is behind what some call the Roses rivalry, with games between the two clubs regularly marred by hooliganism in the 1970s.
On the field, this fixture was most significant a decade earlier, when teams led by Matt Busby and Don Revie were among the best in the country. Expect fireworks at Old Trafford and Elland Road the next time these two face off in the Premier League.
Besiktas vs Fenerbahce (Turkey)
Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray is Turkey’s biggest derby, but Besiktas aren’t much liked by either of their fellow Istanbul outfits. Their clashes with Fenerbahce are probably the most fierce, perhaps because the two teams originate from different sides of the Bosphorus: Besiktas in the European section of Turkey’s biggest city, Fener in the Asian.
The duo have met 349 times since the first fixture between them in 1924. Fenerbahce have had more success with 132 wins, while they have also won eight more titles than the Black Eagles.
Real Madrid vs Athletic Club (Spain)
It’s well established that the enmity between Real Madrid and Barcelona extends beyond the football pitch, with the former seen as the team of the establishment and the latter representing Catalan nationalism.
Athletic Club are the biggest side in the Basque Country, and as such pit themselves in opposition to Madrid. This was until recently the most played fixture in the history of Spanish football, with Barcelona the only other club who have appeared in every edition of La Liga.
Napoli vs Juventus (Italy)
Juventus aren’t very popular with most other clubs in Italy, but their chief adversaries are probably Inter. Nevertheless, clashes between the Old Lady and Napoli can be tremendously fierce, drawing on regional disputes between the north and south of the country.
This rivalry picked up pace in the 1980s, when Diego Maradona helped Napoli wrestle the Scudetto away from Michel Platini’s Juventus. The antipathy has intensified again in recent years, with clashes between the two sets of supporters relatively common.
Aberdeen vs Dundee United (Scotland)
Either Celtic or Rangers have won every Scottish Premiership crown in the last 34 seasons, and the Glaswegian giants have claimed 104 of 123 titles in total. There was a time in the mid-1980s, though, when the Old Firm was challenged by the so-called ‘New Firm’ of Aberdeen and Dundee United.
The latter finished on top of the pile in 1983, with Aberdeen then scooping the next two titles. United may be more concerned with neighbours Dundee, but games between them and the Dons remain hotly contested.
Al Ahly vs Ismaily SC (Egypt)
Al Ahly vs Zamalek is widely viewed as Africa’s most intense football rivalry, with the two Cairo giants tending to dominate the Egyptian game. Relations between the former and Al Masry have intensified in recent times, however, in large part because of the Port Said Stadium riot in 2012 which claimed the lives of 72 Al Ahly fans, as well as one Al Masry supporter and a police officer.
A nationalist club that was explicitly founded for Egyptians rather than foreigners in 1920, Al Masry have had little success but are nevertheless one of the country’s most popular outfits.
Benfica vs Sporting CP (Portugal)
The Portuguese top tier is home to a triopoly involving Benfica, Sporting CP and Porto, who account for 83 of the 85 titles won since the league was established in 1935. The former two clubs are both from Lisbon, sharing a rivalry which is the biggest in Portugal.
It’s Porto and Benfica that are the country’s most successful clubs, however, and meetings between the two are consequently fiercely contested. Benfica won the first clash 8-2 in 1912, but Porto have won more league matches overall.
Cardiff vs Bristol City (Wales/England)
The cities of Cardiff and Bristol are separated by 44 miles and a national border, making a rivalry between the region’s two biggest football clubs inevitable. Patriotic Welsh and English chants are common when the Bluebirds meet the Robins, even if Cardiff still consider Swansea their main adversaries.
The Severnside derby has a history of violence, and away fans are only allowed to travel to the game on official club transport. Bristol City grabbed the latest set of bragging rights earlier this month, beating Cardiff 1-0 on the road.
Chivas vs Atlas (Mexico)
Guadalajara, more commonly referred to as Chivas, form one half of the biggest rivalry in Mexican football, with their battles against America highly anticipated throughout the country.
There’s no love lost between Chivas and Atlas, though, and the Clasico Tapatio is actually Mexico’s oldest derby. The two clubs shared Estadio Jalisco for 50 years, which only added to the hostility between them.
Corinthians vs Sao Paulo (Brazil)
The Paulista Derby between Corinthians and Palmeira sees the largest outfits from Brazil’s biggest city battle it out for supremacy. Sao Paulo has a population of over 12 million, though, meaning there’s plenty of resentment to go around.
As such, Corinthians and Sao Paulo are also opposed to one another. The Classico Majestoso has a rich history dating back to 1935, and there have been notable acts of on-field violence in matches between the pair.
Millonarios vs Deportivo Cali (Colombia)
With both clubs based in the capital of Bogota and sharing tenancy of the Estadio El Campin, Millonarios vs Santa Fe is Colombia’s most notable derby. The country’s oldest rivalry, though, is between Millonarios and Deportivo Cali, a duo that first locked horns in the 1940s.
Millonarios are the second-most successful side in the history of the Colombian top flight, having finished at the summit of the standings on 15 occasions. Deportivo rank fourth overall, lifting the trophy nine times, including in 1996 when they pipped Millonarios to the prize.
Flamengo vs Fluminense (Brazil)
Erroneously believed to be Rio de Janeiro’s biggest rivalry by many, the Fla-Flu derby actually plays second fiddle to Flamengo vs Vasco da Gama in Brazil’s second largest city.
The antagonism dates all the way back to 1911, when several of disgruntled Fluminense players departed to form the football arm of Flamengo. This game drew an incredible crowd of 194,603 in 1963 and remains one of the most hotly-anticipated matches in the Brazilian calendar.
Hamburg vs Werder Bremen (Germany)
Hamburg and St Pauli renewed hostilities in 2018, following the former’s relegation from the Bundesliga. The Hamburger Stadtderby is one of the most intriguing rivalries in Europe because of its political undertones, but the Nordderby between Hamburg and Werder is more historic, dating back to the 1800s.
The two clubs have also met more frequently than Hamburg and St Pauli, none more so than when they faced off four times in 18 chaotic days in 2009.
Lyon vs Marseille (France)
Marseille supporters look for the name of PSG when the Ligue 1 fixtures are first released each summer, but games against Lyon are the next most important for the passionate fans of OM.
The Clash of the Olympiques has grown in intensity in recent years, despite PSG’s monopolisation of the league title. Marseille famously thrashed their foes 7-0 in 1991, only for Lyon to take revenge with an astonishing 8-0 triumph six years later.
PSV vs Ajax (Netherlands)
Ajax vs Feyenoord is the biggest rivalry in Dutch football, pitting the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam against one another in De Klassieker. However, since the late 1990s this fixture is no longer a duel between the two most successful sides in the Netherlands: PSV first surpassed Feyenoord’s title haul in 1997 and have now racked up nine more gongs than the Boeren.
Unsurprisingly, the intensity in games between Ajax and PSV has grown as a consequence of the two teams regularly duking it out for the championship.
River Plate vs Racing Club (Argentina)
The Superclasico between River Plate and Boca Juniors is the world’s biggest football rivalry, but there are many other famous derbies in the Argentinian game: Racing Club vs Independiente, San Lorenzo vs Huracan, Rosario Central vs Newell’s Old Boys, Estudiantes vs Gimnasia.
Perhaps the best secondary rivalry is between River and Racing, two members of Argentina’s so-called ‘big five’. One of the country’s oldest contests, the first clash between the pair ended in controversy in 1908, when Racing directors refused to accept the validity of River’s 2-1 victory – only to suffer a 7-0 defeat in the replayed match.
Spartak Moscow vs Dynamo Moscow (Russia)
The Main Moscow derby features Spartak and CSKA, the two most successful clubs in the history of Russian and Soviet football. However, the city’s oldest rivalry pits Spartak against Dynamo, a feud which first began in the early 20th century when the teams competed for the Moscow Championship.
Dynamo were the club of the KGB during the Soviet era, which made them natural foes for Spartak, who were one of the few sides with no affiliation with the state. Dynamo haven’t won the league since 1976 but their tussles with Spartak are still significant within Moscow.
Tottenham vs West Ham (England)
Tottenham’s chief London rivals are Arsenal in the north of the capital, but many Chelsea and West Ham fans would also pick out Spurs as the team they most like to beat. Indeed, the Hammers rarely face their primary foes Millwall these days, a fact which has allowed their tussle with Tottenham to develop into something bigger.
West Ham supporters relished the damage they did to Spurs’ title ambitions in both 2016 and 2017, but Tottenham have had the better of this fixture historically, winning 96 times to their rivals’ 64.
Valencia vs Villarreal (Spain)
The Derby del Turia between Valencia and Levante will mark its 100-year anniversary in 2020, with the two teams first meeting in their shared city’s regional championship long before their first ever La Liga contest.
Increasingly, though, Valencia vs Villarreal has become the region’s most significant clash, at least in terms of the league table. Villarreal have had the better of the fixture in recent years, although there’s little doubt that Valencia remain the bigger club.
Roma vs Napoli (Italy)
Napoli’s status as southern Italy’s only major club means they are not well liked by many sides across the peninsula, which is home to an entrenched north-south divide. Roma, from the central capital, are not too fond of the Partenopei either, even if they reserve most of their antagonism for neighbours Lazio.
The Derby del Sole is a relatively recent phenomenon: supporters of the two clubs actually shared a friendship until 1987, when relations broke off after Napoli midfielder Salvatore Bagni made an offensive gesture after scoring at the Stadio Olimpico.
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