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The 10 Most Heated & Biggest Sports Rivalries You’ve Ever Witnessed

Stories Top 10 Most Heated & Biggest Sports Rivalries
Dec 14, 2021 06:12Andrej Trajkovski

The main objective of every sports team or athlete is to outplay the opponent and win the match. However, there are games where the athletes are extra motivated to succeed because they face a specific opponent. We are talking about an incredible level of competitiveness that makes sporting events special.

Some of the biggest sports rivalries in the world make these matches the most anticipated events of the year. Literally, thousands of fans are focused on these games, including experienced bettors.

What’s interesting about the top sports rivalries is that they have different stories behind them. In some cases, it’s a rivalry between teams from the same city. There are also regional derbies and even international rivalries. Both team sports and individual sports can be involved in something like this. Also, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the athletes/teams are of the same quality. Still, due to the rivalry, the outcome is unpredictable.

There are dozens of examples around the globe, but we will focus on the top 10 most heated and biggest sports rivalries in the world.

1. Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

Only a handful of American football rivalries can be compared to this one. It started back in 1921 when the Green Bay Packers joined the NFL (the Bears have been part of the National Football League since 1920). So, we are talking about dozens of duels that have brought incredible moments to football fans. Making a list of the biggest rivalries in sports without mentioning these clubs would be wrong.

It’s worth mentioning that the Chicago Bears had a much better score in the early years, but the Packers have finally found a way for payback in recent years. Today, the Green Bay Packers have a lead against the Bears, but it’s only with a few wins. In the 1990s, the Bears has an advantage of over 20 wins.

2. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier

As we said before, some of the biggest sports rivalries include individual sports. This time, we are talking about boxing and two legends of this sport – Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. People loved these boxers because they followed unique boxing styles and had original personalities.

Muhammad Ali was at the peak of his career when he met with Joe in 1971. He lost that match and stunned the world. Since it was a great match and the fans enjoyed the skills and talents of both athletes, it was no surprise that we had a chance to watch two more Ali vs. Frazier matches. The last two games were won by Muhammad Ali. Those who follow this sport claim that this may be the most hyped boxing trilogy of all time.

3. Celtic F.C. vs. Glasgow Rangers

Big cities can have more than one good sports team, and sometimes these teams can compete against each other in the highest-ranking competition. That’s the case with Celtic F.C. and Glasgow Rangers. Both clubs come from Glasgow, Scotland (U.K.), competing in the Scottish Premiership. Just to be clear, these are football clubs.

What’s interesting about this rivalry is that it’s primarily based on religious and ethnic differences. Celtic F.C. is supported by Catholics and people of Irish descent, while Glasgow Rangers fans are Protestants and Scottish. This rivalry started in the late 19th century (1888) and is known as the Old Firm. These two soccer teams have met over 400 times, and Glasgow Rangers is the more successful team, but only by a one-digit margin. This may be one reason why people eagerly anticipate every duel between these teams.

4. Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

Even if you are not a baseball fan, you’ve definitely heard these names. These are iconic teams that have played in the major leagues for decades. According to some experts, this is the biggest sports rivalry in the United States. Another interesting fact about this duel is that the Red Sox and Yankees have met over 2300 times.

Even though the Red Sox were way better in the first few decades, the New York Yankees are better overall. It takes more than 200 wins for the Sox to change the stats in their favor. While discussing this rivalry, we should also point out that when Red Sox sold babe Ruth to the Yankees, the team waited 86 years before winning the World Series. This event is known as the Curse of the Bambino.

5. River Plate vs. Boca Juniors

Once again, we have soccer squads on the list of top sports rivalries. The names of these teams may not sound familiar to people who are not following soccer. Still, the rest know that these are the two most popular clubs in Argentina. Both River Plate and Boca Juniors come from the capital city – Buenos Aires. This soccer match is known as Superclasico, the fiercest derby in South America.

In addition to being from the same city, these two teams have origins in a working-class neighborhood known as La Boca. However, River Plate moved to the wealthier neighborhood Nunez in 1925, which is probably the main reason behind this competitiveness. Fans had a chance to watch more than 250 meetings between the rivals in all these years. Almost every match between these two is unpredictable and too close to make predictions in advance. The figures can confirm that. Boca Juniors has a lead over Plate but has only a few wins more. So, a year or two without wins and River Plate can become more successful.

6. Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers

It looks like some of the biggest rivalries in sports are related to basketball. To be more precise, we’re talking about the Celtics-Lakers rivalry as part of the NBA. In case you didn’t know, the Lakers were based in Minneapolis from 1950 to 1960. So, back then, it was an exciting East Coast duel. After the relocation, the rivalry became more intense mainly because both teams had great success. For example, they’ve met a dozen times in the NBA finals.

Since the schedule in NBA is denser, these teams had plenty of opportunities to measure their strength. So far, there have been more than 350 meetings, and the Celtics have been a more successful team, and they have a lead of over 40 wins at this moment. Interestingly, every decade brought different squads and aspects of this duel that made the matches fun to watch, like the period when Abdul-Jabbar was playing for the L.A. Lakers or when Larry Bird was part of the Boston Celtics. Speaking of Boston, did you know that there was a point-shaving scandal in Boston during 1978/1979 that’s known as the “worst fix ever”?

7. Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

It’s not easy to pick the best one. Still, the Battle of Pennsylvania is undoubtedly one of the biggest sports rivalries in the United States. The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins are two successful ice hockey teams that have competed in the National Hockey League (NHL) for decades. The rivalry between these Pennsylvania-based teams started in 1967, and that’s the year when both teams joined the NHL.

This is also one of the rivalries that have become more intense in the past two decades, thanks to these teams’ excellent results. They’ve met four times in the Stanley Cup playoffs between 2008 and 2018. There are over 340 matches on record, and we can freely say that the Philadelphia Flyers were the better team with a 50+ win lead.

8. Indiana University Hoosiers vs. University of Kentucky Wildcats

There’s no doubt that college sports can be exciting too. This is especially true for college basketball in the United States and the NCAA championship. They have a long history of duels that started in 1924. Most of the matches were played in Rupp Arena, Lexington, and Assembly Hall, Bloomington. Of course, both squads have big fan bases.

Even though the number of games between the Hoosiers and Wildcats (basketball games) is not as high as the one between other teams present on this list, almost all of them were memorable. They’ve played nearly 60 games, and the Hoosiers are currently a better team with more than 5 wins.

9. India vs. Pakistan

It’s time for an international rivalry to be analyzed in our article. Cricket may not be as popular as basketball or soccer, but it’s not like that in the two neighboring Asian countries. Yes, we are talking about India and Pakistan. These two countries have a long history of political tensions (they even went to war against each other several times). So, it’s no wonder why this is one of the biggest sports rivalries we’ve seen.

It was 1952 when the Pakistan national cricket team went to India to play the first match. India was victorious in the first series. However, Pakistan is now the more successful team with more Test, and ODI wins. The only meetings where India is better are at Twenty20 International games. Don’t forget that thousands of fans on the stadiums and millions on T.V./computers watch each of these meetings.

10. F.C. Barcelona vs Real Madrid

Have you ever heard about El Clasico? That’s the nickname given to one of the world’s biggest rivalries in sports. Any soccer match between the two Spanish giants is part of the rivalry. So, we are talking about La Liga (the Spanish premier league), UEFA Champions League, and Copa del Rey matches. It’s worth mentioning that there’s a political side in El Clasico, with Real Madrid often associated with the king and Spanish unity and F.C. Barcelona as a Catalan team.

The two sides met in 1902 for the first time when Barca won against Real Madrid (just Madrid FC back then). The total number of matches exceeds 280 now, and Barcelona has a slight advantage against Los Blancos. Another curiosity surrounding this event is that Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) have 45 appearances on the duels, making them the two players with the most appearances.

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Andrej Trajkovski
Lady Liberty
Andrej Trajkovski Avatar
As a gambling editor, Andrej aims to provide readers with everything new from the world of gambling. Since he is our columnist, his topics are often a bit more extensive and fun. Whether it’s analysis on the reunification of Ireland, Spotify gambling playlists, or history posts, he gets the job done.
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