While rivalries are a staple of literally every sport, a solid argument can be made that no group of fans has embraced them quite like soccer. There are, of course, plenty of local “derbies” around the globe, but what differentiates soccer is how many of the rivalries are international.
In honor of Rivalry Week, we recently assembled some of the greatest soccer minds from around SB Nation to discuss their favorites.
Here is who participated:
Donald Wine II, Stars and Stripes FC
Gill Clark, Barca Blaugranes
Kudzi Musarurwa, Dirty South Soccer
Rob Usry, Dirty South Soccer
Mark Kastner, Sounder at Heart and Liverpool Offside
Eugene Rupinski, FMF State of Mind
Aaron Lerner, The Short Fuse
Tito Kohout, (Viola Nation)
Brent Maximin (The Busby Babe)El Clásico might be the best rivalry overall but does it ever live up to the hype?
Donald Wine II: The history between Real Madrid and Barcelona is off the charts, and it, to me, is the biggest and best in the world. Each match is epic, features some of the world’s greatest players, and is never short of drama. What other match have people scrambling to find out how to obtain beIN Sports for one day?!
Gill Clark: The thing is it very, very rarely fails to deliver. There are almost always goals (this season’s 0-0 was the first since 2002 — almost 20 years) and usually a red card or two and sometimes even a pig’s head chucked from the stands.
Donald Wine II: When you think about some of the world’s greatest players of all time, many of them have played in this rivalry: Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Figo, Samuel Eto’o. I remember a few weeks ago we were doing that game of name a starting XI with greats that didn’t play for the same club, and Real and Barca blew everyone’s starting XIs up, lol.
Eugene Rupinski: For people who swear sports aren’t political, they should look into the history of Barça-Real Madrid. It’s part of what makes it such a big deal.
Aaron Lerner: Yeah — there are big time politics wrapped up in El Clásico, and that gets pretty ugly. Catalan separatism versus Francoist-influenced Spanish nationalism is still very much alive and kicking.
Donald Wine II: Hell, the 0-0 draw that was mentioned was postponed from its original date because of Catalan protests that threatened the security of the stadium. It ended up being played in December instead of October. They’re also two of the richest clubs in the world, and they consistently earn the most revenue.On an internal SB Nation survey Boca-River showed up a lot, even though it’s probably a rivalry that a lot of general sports fans don’t know about. Anyone want to explain what makes it special?
Kudzi Musarurwa: The passion from the fans and the players is something that’s barely replicated anywhere else in the world. When people say football can be life or death, I always think of this rivalry and agree.
Rob Usry: There’s no doubt that Boca-River is a fantastic rivalry, but at what point can a rivalry be too intense? I feel like if there’s a legitimate threat of someone dying anytime the two teams play then it might be too out of control.
Aaron Lerner: The level of hatred between Boca-River and their fans is off the charts. Not to glorify supporter clashes in any way, but that derby led to wide-scale riots and a match being moved literally out of the country.
Mark Kastner: Didn’t they have to move the final between them to Madrid last year?
Aaron Lerner: Yes. They moved it across a literal ocean.
Donald Wine II: Boca-River is INTENSE as hell. You can feel the passion in any stadium. It may be too intense. It’s because of these matches that Argentina banned fans at away matches nationwide. But, that passion can be felt in your soul through your TV set or computer.
Eugene Rupinski: CABJ vs. River is probably the biggest rivalry on this side of the planet. It’s gotten very ugly at times, but it is an unfortunate reflection of the passion and intensity of the fans. Everyone knows the weight of those games; the players, fans, hinchas, fans across the globe and casual observers. You know how much that game means when it comes around.
Aaron Lerner: River Plate-Boca Juniors is intertwined with soccer identity in Argentina. You may have your own team, but you’re for one or the other. It touches politics, economics; that derby has tendrils wrapped up in everything in the country.
Donald Wine II: Also, I think sometimes the stadiums and atmosphere can help make a rivalry. When someone asks for a list of stadiums they most want to see a match in, La Bombonera is on just about everyone’s list. When someone asks for a list of stadiums they most want to die in, is at the top of everyone’s list.
Brent Maximin: Boca vs. River is the derby that is on most football fan’s bucket list. The history of the fixture, the relative quality of both teams over the years, and of course the fan experience.What are the best rivalries on the women’s side either on the international or club level?
Donald Wine II: The USWNT’s biggest rivalry is Canada, then Mexico. But lately they haven’t been great rivals because they get smoked all the time. I will say, budding rivalries are forming with England and France, though.
Eugene Rupinski: The thing with international women’s soccer is that the US has almost always been the top dog and there’s been a rotating cast trying to knock them off but no one has been able to sustain it.
I think one to watch will be the US vs. Mexico. The US is unquestionably the best in the world and it’s not really close. Mexico though has put a lot of money and time and effort into growing and professionalizing the women’s game and it’s starting to pay off. Players are going to Europe to play and Mexico has also utilized the US collegiate system and dual nationals to bolster the program.
Aaron Lerner: It’s more of a past rivalry now, but on the women’s side, I’d shoutout Norway-U.S.A. Norway handed the USWNT their first big defeat on the international stage (and went on to win that ‘95 Women’s World Cup). For a few years, they were a bonafide rival to our women, and that rivalry served as my introduction to women’s international soccer.
Kudzi Musarurwa: During the Pia days, the USWNT’s rivals were Sweden. That rivalry lasted until last year to be honest.
Rob Usry: France/USWNT is my personal favorite. Feel like every game between them is top quality. But I can’t justify it as the best since it’s still fledgling.
Or USWNT vs. US Soccer.
Donald Wine II: LOL, he’s right though.
Tito Kohout: To piggyback on Rob, really any women’s team against the absurd levels of incompetent sexism rampant throughout the sport.
For the women in Serie A, I’ll submit Fiorentina-Juventus. The men’s side carried over, plus there’s the fact that Fiorentina had the first pro(-ish because Italy) women’s team attached to a men’s club and won a bunch of trophies before Juve added one of their own, outspent them, and have become the best team on the peninsula.
Donald Wine II: Real Madrid just picked up a women’s team last year, and it was officially renamed Real Madrid last week. When I last spoke with club president Florentino Perez last summer, he said the club’s intent was to put €20 million into salaries for the women’s team in an effort to be on the level of Barca and Atletico Madrid immediately. So, look for those rivalries to grow in intensity.
Eugene Rupinski: I think Tigres vs. Monterrey is probably the best though. They average a crazy amount of fans, and have won more stars than other team in Liga MX Femenil.
Mark Kastner: Liverpool Women vs. Fenway Sports Group (the club’s owner).
Aaron Lerner: Michelle Akers vs. anybody who tried to come through the center of the U.S. formation.What are your favorite international rivalries?
Mark Kastner: Messi-era Argentina vs. trying to win a big tournament has been very enjoyable. It always starts with promise but ends up in crushing defeat
Tito Kohout: Most of the South American ones feel really intense to me, especially the ones involving Argentina and Brazil.
Brent Maximin: Argentina-Brazil. Even if it very often failed to live up the hype, those two nations live and breathe football and for decades each has claimed to have THE best player of all time. THE number 10.
Donald Wine II: US-Mexico is my favorite, but other great ones are Argentina-Brazil and England-Germany, though with England-Germany, we don’t get it as often.
Gill Clark: I go with Netherlands vs. Germany because they really can’t stand each other.
Rob Usry: I tried to think of one that isn’t obviously biased. But couldn’t come up with one. Mexico-USA is always high stakes and intense (unless it’s a cash-grab friendly). The bragging rights for each set of fan bases is precious. Surely there are better quality rivalries in Europe and Brazil-Argentina is great. But Mexico-USA is just a step below the World Cup as far as importance goes.
Tito Kohout: I think that all of the ones that involve crazy non-sports relationships (USA-Mexico, Ireland-Northern Ireland, DPRK-South Korea, Greece-Turkey, etc.) are probably the craziest to me just because of all the off-field stuff that gets packed in too.
Feel like any UEFA matches involving England could get really weird after Brexit, too.
Gill Clark: England vs. Argentina is probably worth a shout. There’s the Maradona handball, the Beckham sending off, Michael Owen’s goal (22 years ago today!) and obviously the history between with two countries.
Tito Kohout: I think part of it is that internationals are less common and that the quality of play is frequently lower because they don’t have as much time to train together, too. Seems like it leads to a lot of really tense, ugly games. Not sure if those result in more fan badness than really “good” games, but that’d be sort of interesting to look at.
Kudzi Musarurwa: Ooo, I just remembered a major international one-two: Egypt vs. Algeria or Egypt vs. Tunisia. I remember the AFCON held in Egypt (iirc) and it was the fiercest international rivalry I’d seen in a long time. Those countries hate each other
Donald Wine II: The North African ones are great. Throw in the Nigeria-Ghana-Ivory Coast-Cameroon battles that have been around forever. Ghana, FWIW, might be America’s second rival if you poll fans.
Australia-New Zealand back in the day when they both ruled Oceania.What are some other rivalries we love? Liverpool vs. Manchester United
Mark Kastner: Liverpool vs. Manchester United is a derby that transcends just football. It’s two cities that have a lot in common but have some very distinct differences in their approaches to life and football. Both teams have dominated English football during different decades, defining what we think about the game. The matches themselves are always really tense and full of passion. It’s wild that we’ve only ever had one title race between the two teams.Liga MX’s América vs. Chivas
Eugene Rupinski: For me, it’s Liga MX’s América vs. Chivas. The two clubs who have more stars on their shirt than anyone else. The two most watched clubs in North America. It’s the cultural rivalry between Mexico City and Guadalajara and the rivalry of a diverse lineup against one made entirely of Mexican players with the pageantry of the American Super Bowl (at least) twice a year. Is it the fiercest in the world? No. Is it the most hyped? No. But it is the one that to me is the best because of what it means to so many in both the US and Mexico.What about some underrated rivalries?
Donald Wine II: For an underrated rivalry, gimme the Soweto Derby (South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs vs. Orlando Pirates). Kaizer Chiefs is a team with American roots (the founder named it after the Atlanta Chiefs, who he left Orlando Pirates to play for before returning to South Africa to start the Chiefs) and each match is fierce on the field and in the stands.
Mark Kastner: Notable shout for Portland vs. Seattle in MLS. Any time you have a player rip up a referee’s notebook IN A GAME, the rivalry must be intense.
Tell us about your favorite rivalries in the comments below!
Gallery: The 25 best European soccer clubs, ranked (Yardbarker)
The San Diego Loyal soccer club, which will resume its season Saturday after a four-month absence caused by the coronavirus pandemic, is looking much further into the future, hoping to secure its own home.
The Loyal proposes to pay for a modular stadium on the city’s sports arena site near Point Loma. Construction in 2022 of the impermanent stadium, which would hold up to 15,000 fans and cost an estimated $15 million to $20 million, would initiate a mixed development in the Midway District, said project developer David Malmuth.
“Our hope is that the soccer fan base in San Diego says: ‘Yeah, we want it; now, let’s go make it happen,’ " said Malmuth.
The Midway Sports & Entertainment District plan, which also envisions a renovated arena, 12-acre park, 3,500-seat music venue and 1,500 residences, is one of two competing proposals to redevelop the city’s 48-acre property into a village.
A city selection committee will eventually choose one of the proposals — both of which were posted Friday on the city's website — to recommend to Mayor Kevin Faulconer, whose staff would then negotiate a deal with the winning developer. In May 2017, Faulconer endorsed the “SoccerCity” land-use plan for east Mission Valley. It was defeated in the November 2018 general election, when voters instead approved the competing “SDSU West” measure.
Malmuth said if the soccer-led plan is chosen, it would go forward only if San Diego voters approved a proposed November ballot measure that would lift the city’s coastal 30-foot height limit for the sports arena site and 850 adjacent acres, known as the Midway District.
At 50 feet, the planned soccer stadium exceeds the current restriction. “We can’t do this project without that,” said Malmuth of lifting the restriction.
SD Loyal is a professional men’s team that was launched in June 2019 as a member of United Soccer League’s championship division. Its first official match was this past March.
The club is in the first year of a three-year lease with the University of San Diego to plays its home games at Torero Stadium, where a capacity crowd of 6,100 attended the season opener March 7. Its next home game is scheduled for July 19.
Team President Warren Smith, reiterating a long-term plan he spelled out before the team played its first game, said the club aspires to build up its home base to where a larger venue makes sense in 2022.
He said the planned stadium would increase the appeal of attending SD Loyal matches, and in turn boost the team’s revenues via rising ticket sales, concessions and sponsorships.
“We’re confident that we can build the right size to basically make sure that the environment is fun, exciting and ultimately the fans win,” said the executive, who oversaw the USL Sacramento club’s move into a modular venue. He added: “We want to give multiple reasons for fans to come to a match. Not just the soccer, but the bands beforehand, the ability for kids to play on miniature soccer fields.”
Smith said the team’s longer-range plan is to play in a modular stadium for up seven to 10 years and become popular enough to move into a “brick and mortar” venue that would hold at least 20,000 fans, as the Sacramento club did.
He said he gave consideration to SD Loyal becoming a tenant at San Diego State’s football stadium, which school officials plan to open in 2022. He decided the venue, at 35,000 seats, would be too big for the fledgling soccer club.
“The worst thing we can do in any sporting venue is to build an overabundance of seats,” said Smith, who also oversaw operations with an MLS team in Portland and a minor league baseball club in Oakland. “Basically when you have an oversupply, people won’t buy season tickets because they know they can get tickets on the back end. This is a way for us to, in essence, control the supply curve, like we’re doing at Torero, but be able to grow and accommodate in a meaningful way.”
Fans will be unable to attend SD Loyal’s remaining home games unless progress in fighting COVID-19 results in easing of state health restrictions.
Smith said he was “pretty confident” the team would have sold out most of its home games this year, absent the pandemic.
Modular stadiums have design limitations, which can limit a team’s revenue streams.
But they are far less expensive than “permanent” stadiums. Two local examples: 42,000-seat Petco Park, which cost more than $450 million to build and entailed a public subsidy of $300 million; and SDSU’s football stadium that is projected to cost about $310 million.
USL is one tier below the top American soccer league for men, Major League Soccer. So, the soccer is clearly “second tier” by U.S. standards, even though USL teams have won occasional matches against MLS competition.
On the cost side, the gulf is vast and can affect the financing of stadium construction and related costs, both direct and indirect.
For example, the USL expansion fee for SD Loyal, at $15 million or less, was about five percent of the $325 million the MLS commanded from its recent expansion into Charlotte. Average total compensation for USL players — including housing provided by the team — is near the MLS minimum player salary of $65,000.
“SoccerCity” envisioned an MLS team in Mission Valley and dense development to help support the project.
SD Loyal’s underlying funding comes from the team’s chairman, Andrew Vassiliadis, of a family-owned San Diego real estate business.
Vassiliadis, acknowledging the team will run a deficit for a number of years, said in March he took a long-term approach to funding the Loyal.
Soon after Vassiliadis outlined his rationale for buying into professional soccer, the team was dealt a series of financial blows by the pandemic-induced shutdown.
Suspension of play has reduced SD Loyal’s home schedule by about 60 percent; home games are the top source of revenue for USL teams, which get no money from media outlets.
Vassiliadis, said SD Loyal coach Landon Donovan, has continued to pay in full all of the team’s players and coaches for the 2020 season.
Smith likened paying for a new stadium to investing in the club’s long-term future.
Because a modular “erector set” stadium can be deconstructed and re-assembled, SD Loyal conceivably could sell it to another USL franchise, said Smith.
Malmuth also lauded the flexibility of a modular stadium.
He estimated construction would take four months, in effect launching a staggered development. And if SD Loyal were to grow enough to move to a new home seven to 10 years later, Malmuth said it would be appealing to have the vacated, 10-acre parcel on the south end of site available for other development.
As for the field surface, SD Loyal would face the same difficult decision the Chargers faced when they decided to leave the Mission Valley stadium that had housed them since 1967: Go with grass, which is generally preferred by players, or opt for the economic advantages a synthetic surface provides.
The Chargers decided on synthetic turf for the 65,000-seat stadium they proposed for the East Village. The 70,200-seat Inglewood stadium they and the Rams will occupy is to have a synthetic-turf field.
“It could be turf, it could be grass,” said Smith. “A decision’s not made on that.”
Smith said the SD Legion rugby club, which plays at Torero Stadium, would be a potential tenant at the Midway venue.
July 10 (UPI) -- With men's and women's soccer leagues resuming play in the United States, the only active team-sport athletes in the country will take the field simultaneously this weekend. Meanwhile, NASCAR and PGA Tour seasons continue.
The MLS Is Back Tournament this week marked the return of Major League Soccer after its season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Orlando City SC beat Inter Miami CF in a dramatic comeback Wednesday in the tournament opener at the ESPN Wide Word of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.
The NWSL Challenge Cup marked the return for the National Women's Soccer League. More than a dozen United States Women's National Team stars are involved in the tournament, which began June 27. The tournament continues through July 26 in Herriman, Utah.
Outside of soccer, NASCAR's Cup Series continues with the Quaker State 400 on Sunday at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky.
PGA Tour golfers will continue play at the Workday Charity Open from Friday through Sunday in Dublin, Ohio.
The KBO League -- a baseball league in South Korea -- will have two games airing this weekend on ESPN.
MLS is Back
The MLS is Back Tournament continued with three games Thursday after Inter Miami and Orlando City played in the opener. The reigning MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders battle the San Jose Earthquakes at 9 p.m. EDT Friday before a slate of five weekend clashes.
Atlanta United FC -- the 2018 MLS Cup champions -- face the New York Red Bulls in the first game of the weekend at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday.
The Red Bulls won the 2018 Supporters Shield, the award given to the MLS team to finish with the best record for a season. The Red Bulls-Atlanta United clash will air on Fox.
Saturday's final match will be an Ohio rivalry between FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew. That match will air at 10:30 p.m. EDT on FS1.
Toronto FC and D.C. United will match up in the first game on Sunday. Sunday's slate also features Sporting Kansas City against Minnesota United and Real Salt Lake against the Colorado Rapids.
Thomas favored at PGA Tour event
The Workday Charity Open -- the fifth PGA Tour tournament since the season was suspended -- began Thursday and runs through Sunday at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin. The course will also be the venue for next week's Memorial Tournament.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy is sitting out this week, which gives several other players a chance to jump in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Bovada has No. 5 Justin Thomas at +1000 as the favorite to win the tournament. That means bettors would win $1,000 if they placed a $100 bet on Thomas.
Patrick Cantlay (+1200), Brooks Koepka (+1400), Jon Rahm (+1400) and Hideki Matsuyama (+1600) also are among the favorites to win the Workday Charity Open.
Weekend coverage of the featured groups will air from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT Saturday and Sunday on PGA Tour Live. Third- and fourth-round coverage also will air from 3 to 6 p.m. EDT Saturday and Sunday on CBS.
NASCAR in Kentucky
The Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., will host a pair of NASCAR races this weekend. The Truck Series Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 will air at 6 p.m. EDT Saturday on FS1. The Cup Series Quaker State 400 will be the main event of the weekend in Sparta. It will start at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and air on FS1.
Cup Series leader Kevin Harvick has won two of the last three races, including his victory last Sunday in the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400.
Harvick also won the first race of NASCAR's resumed season May 17 at the Real Heroes 400. The driver of the No. 4 Ford has placed in the Top-5 in seven of 12 races since the Cup Series season resumed. He has placed in the Top-11 in 10 of the 12 events.
Bovada also has Harvick favored to win Sunday's race at +400. Clint Boyer (+440), Chase Elliott (+550), Denny Hamlin (+550) and Kyle Busch (+550) are among the other favorites to win in Sparta.
KBO: Doosan Bears vs. Lotte Giants at 4:55 a.m. EDT on ESPN
Workday Charity Open: Third round featured groups from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT on PGA Tour Live; 1 to 3 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel; 3 to 6 p.m. EDT on CBS
Premier League: Liverpool vs. Burnley at 10 a.m. EDT on NBCSN
Premier League: Sheffield United vs. Chelsea at 12:30 p.m. EDT on NBC
La Liga: FC Barcelona vs. Valladolid at 1:30 p.m. EDT on beIN Sports
Premier League: Manchester City vs. Brighton at 3 p.m. EDT on NBCSN
Serie A: Juventus vs. Atalanta at 3:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN+
MLS is Back Tournament: Atlanta United FC vs. New York Red Bulls at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox
MLS is Back Tournament: FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC at 10:30 p.m. EDT on FS1
Truck Series: Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at 6 p.m. EDT on FS1
KBO: NC Dinos vs. LG Twins at 3:55 a.m. EDT on ESPN
Workday Charity Open: Fourth round featured groups from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT on PGA Tour Live; 1 to 3 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel; 3 to 6 p.m. EDT on CBS
MLS is Back Tournament: Toronto FC vs. D.C. United at 9 a.m. EDT on ESPN2
Premier League: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur at 11:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN
NWSL Challenge Cup: Washington Spirit vs. Houston Dash at 12:30 p.m. EDT on CBS All Access
MLS is Back Tournament: Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN
NWSL Challenge Cup: Chicago Red Stars vs. Utah Royals FC at 10 p.m. EDT on CBS All Access
MLS is Back Tournament: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids at 10:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN
Cup Series: Quaker State 400 at 2:30 p.m. EDT on FS1