THE WORLD'S GREAT DERBIES
Saturday 17 October 1998
In Rio de Janeiro, football rivalries are drawn along battle lines of wealth and poverty - the team of the slum-dwellers, Flamengo, have a vulture as their club symbol, while Fluminese, traditionally the side of the rich, are known as "white powder" - a nickname gained when they started throwing white powder at Flamengo's darker-skinned players. Fluminese fans are also touchy about the fact that Flamengo's football tradition is more glamorous, having fielded players such as Zico, Socrates and, more recently, Romario.
BOCA JUNIORS v RIVER PLATE Buenos Aires
Similar to the Rio derby in so far as River Plate, founded by English immigrants, are seen as the "rich" club, while Boca represent the slum districts. Boca are renowned for their tough, uncompromising style both on and off the pitch (their brava brava fans are the most notorious in Argentina), while River Plate fans demand style from their team. Think Wimbledon against Tottenham in front of 100,000 fans.
FENERBAHCE v GALATASARAY Istanbul
Graeme Souness clearly underestimated the level of feeling for this match when, as manager, he planted a Fenerbahce flag in the Galatasaray centre- circle - an act which led to much slaughtering of goats around Istanbul. The British influence clearly rubbed off, however. The opportunity to study the technique of Barry Venison and Dean Saunders at Fenerbahce helped results improve at both club and international level.
CELTIC v RANGERS Glasgow
Arguably Britain's biggest derby, if only because both teams are perennial title contenders. Political and religious backgrounds separate the supporters as much as football: Celtic's Catholics versus Rangers' Protestants. The atmosphere is always highly charged despite the teams meeting at least four times a season and now fielding as many foreigners as Scots.
REAL v ATLETICO Madrid
Real Madrid are one of the aristocrats of European football and cast a giant shadow over their neighbours, Atletico. The Bernabeu stadium is situated in the middle of Madrid's thriving financial district while Atletico play in less impressive surroundings near the local prison. Real's seven European Cup final victories do not impress the Atletico chairman, Jesus Gil, though. The man who practically owns Marbella has put billions of pesetas into knocking Real off their perch. His finest hour came when Atletico won the league and cup double in 1996.
LAZIO v ROMA Rome
The Roman clubs may not have quite the glamour of the Milanese duo, but they have more passion. Between them they can boast only three Scudetti (Italian championships) - two for Roma and one for Lazio, and their relative lack of success has made results in the derby all the more important. Roma's high point came in the European Cup final in 1984, but it proved a crushing disappointment when they lost to Liverpool on penalties in their own Stadio Olimpico. Lazio clearly feel their best is yet to come, having recruited Vieri, Salas, De la Pena and more over the summer.
AMERICA v UNAM (PUMAS) Mexico City
A good example of a city derby that does not breed overwhelming animosity. America are one of Mexico's two biggest teams, and their fans direct most of their ill-feeling towards the other big club, Guadalajara. The atmosphere is at its best when the match is played at the Azteca stadium, scene of the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals, and normally provokes a riot of flag- waving and colour among a good-natured crowd. However, Puma's 3-1 win over America last Monday may change that.
CSKA v LEVSKI SOFIA Sofia
In a Bulgarian league a little short of glamour, the people of Sofia have to make do with one of Europe's fiercest derbies. CSKA were originally the Communist army team and Levski have great support among the city's police, making the game an opportunity for settling scores. However, with Hristo Stoichkov now playing in Japan, his former club CSKA are faring about as well as the Communist army as they languish in mid-table - all the more embarrassing as Levski are top of the league.
BENFICA v SPORTING LISBON Lisbon
Graeme Souness's Benfica are a club in financial crisis and, with past glories now very distant, fans are desperate for a return to the European Cup-winning days of the early 1960s. Whether Scott Minto and Mark Pembridge are really the players to do that remains doubtful but, for now, Benfica are battling for leadership of the league. In recent years Porto have dominated Portuguese football, but Benfica do have the satisfaction, of playing in the Stadium of Light, one of Europe's premier grounds. Not to be confused with Sunderland's equally magnificent facility, of course.
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