International Derbies in the World of Football: Europe (Part 1)

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3 years ago

While waiting for this year's season of the Copa Paulino Alcantara, I'm setting my expectations between Kaya FC - Iloilo and Loyola FC even if these clubs now represent their respective cities and they would meet again on the pitch as they square it off for this year's tournament. Aside from supporting our local league and the national team, there's nothing more to describe by watching other international football leagues.

To define what a derby is in the world of Football, it is a rivalry between two teams, it can be a feud and more than just an ordinary match; these are matters where the pride of the club and fans are at stake. There are many derbies to mention, but we'll get to them individually by each continent & each country. We'll start in Europe. There are international derbies from the UEFA Champions League, to other European countries that have numerous derbies so we'll take a look at them one by one, but I'll discuss each country that has numerous rivalries soon.

Let's dive deep into the former kingdom then turned Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Now both of these countries are independent. First, in Croatia, it is called the Eternal Derby between HNK Hajduk Split & Dinamo Zagreb. Before the country became independent in 1991, Croatia's famous clubs were part of the Big 4 of Yugoslav Football (the other 2 which I'll mention later) since the Yugoslav championship was established in 1946 until 1991. Their rivalry started in the 1920s when Hajduk would clash with HSK Građanski when the country is under the rule of the monarchs. Građanski was disbanded, hence Dinamo Zagreb was born retaining their crest & colors. In 1992, Dinamo & Hajduk won 25 out of 27 Croatian championship titles, and 21 out of 27 Croatian Cups.

From Croatia, let's head on to Serbia. They may have numerous derbies, but the most popular one was the Belgrade Derby between city rivals Red Star Belgrade & Partizan Belgrade. Both of these clubs were part of the Big 4 of Yugoslav Football. They originate in political institutions after World War II. Red Star was formed on March 4, 1945, as part of the new civil authority in Yugoslavia. Partizan was founded 7 months later on October 4, 1945, as the sports association of the Yugoslav People's Army. Their first match was on January 5, 1947, Red Star won 4 - 3 then the rivalry on both of these clubs started when Partizan won 1 - nil on April 27, 1947. It was described as "European football's most bitter rivalries", and regarded worldwide as among the fiercest matches. A derby can be from the same city, but this one has different ideologies under the influence of Communism.

Next, we head off to Turkey where this country separates from both continents, Asia & Europe. Two of the most successful clubs and widely regarded as the biggest football match in Turkey - the Intercontinental Derby between Galatasaray SK & Fenerbahçe SK. Galatasaray is based on the European side of Istanbul, originally the name came from their educational institutions and it is one of the oldest schools in Turkey since 1481, hence the sports club was founded on October 30, 1905, by Ali Sami Yen and other students of Galatasaray High School. Fenerbahçe is on the other side of Istanbul, on the Kadıköy district in Istanbul, their name translates to Garden of the Beacon, founded on May 3, 1907, by Ziya Songülen, Ayetullah Bey, and Necip Okaner. It was secretly founded to gain a low profile during the Ottoman empire. The rule was so strict when Sultan Abdul Hamid II forbade the Turkish youth to set up or engage in Football played by the English families that was watched in envy. So the 3 men came together that their district needs to form their own football club. Outside of the stadium, the supporters from both clubs including Beşiktaş J.K. set aside their differences to unite for their country to protest against the current government. When it comes to trophies, Galatasaray won 22 Süper Lig titles, 18 Turkish Cups, 16 Turkish Super Cups, the UEFA Cup and Super Cup in 2000, becoming the first and only Turkish team to win a UEFA competition. While Fenerbahçe won 28 National Championships, they reached the quarterfinals of the 1963-64 season of the UEFA Winners' Cup and in 2007-08 season of the UEFA Champions League. In 2012-13, their semi-final performance during the UEFA Europa League was marked as one of their milestones in international football. Their first match was on January 17, 1909. It was a friendly match between both clubs as Galatasaray won 2 - nil. Fenerbahçe answered back by defeating Galatasaray by 4 goals to 2 in the Istanbul Football League on January 4, 1914.

From the endless support of the fans at both clubs, to resist against the Turkish government, we head off to Spain. Aside from El Clasico between FC Barcelona & Real Madrid CF, both of these clubs have other rivalries around Spain and other football clubs in Europe. The biggest rivalry of them all is from Spain's main capital - the Madrid Derby between Real Madrid CF & Atletico de Madrid. Originally known as Madrid Football Club founded on March 6, 1902. In 1920, King Alfonso XIII bestowed the club adding the name Real (Royal) together with the royal crown on their crest. The club produced notable stars like Raul Gonzalez Blanco, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid CF won 34 La Liga titles, 19 Copa del Rey, 11 Supercopa de España, a Copa Eva Duarte, and a Copa de la Liga in their domestic league. In the international scene, they won 13 UEFA Champions League titles, 2 UEFA Cups, and 4 UEFA Super Cups. Atletico de Madrid, known by their nickname Los Colchoneros (The Mattress Makers) which was based on the colors of their traditional mattresses. Founded on April 26, 1903, originally known as Athletic Club Sucursal de Madrid by three Basque students living in Madrid. The third most successful club in Spanish Football behind Real Madrid & FC Barcelona, and have won La Liga on 10 occasions, including a league and cup double in 1996; the Copa del Rey on 10 occasions; 2 Supercopas de España, a Copa Presidente FEF, and a Copa Eva Duarte. They were the UEFA Winners' Cup in 1962, runners-up in 1963 and 1986, the UEFA Champions League runners-up in 1974, 2014 and 2016, they also won the Europa League in 2010, 2012 and 2018, and the UEFA Super Cup in 2010, 2012 and 2018 including the 1974 Intercontinental Cup. Their rivalry started at the beginning of the 20th Century before the club's foundation dates. Fast forward to the present day, this derby is the second biggest behind El Clasico, although Real Madrid has the largest fanbase worldwide, Atletico Madrid also has a significant fanbase worldwide because of their success in the international scene.

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