In football, as well as in other team sports in general, a derby is known as the match between two great teams that have the greatest rivalry between them within the same competition. This rivalry between the two teams usually goes back many years, and normally occurs between clubs from the same country, although the term can also refer to a match between national teams, or even between teams belonging to different countries, which throughout history have had to face each other on multiple occasions and, therefore, a great rivalry has arisen, with a match played between them being considered a true classic in the world of football.

It is worth mentioning that many media and fans use the words “derby” and “clasico” interchangeably to refer both to a match of maximum rivalry and to one played between teams from the same city. However, despite the fact that the Real Academia Española does not use the term clasico to refer to a football match, and that the term derbi defines it as a match played between teams that have a well-known rivalry without mentioning at any time that they have to be from the same city or region, although in the past it did, the truth is that they are popularly considered to be different terms.

However, the same match can be a derby and a classic at the same time, as for example the one between Club Atlético River Plate and Club Atlético Boca Juniors, two great teams located in Buenos Aires with a huge rivalry between them that goes back many years. This match is known as “El Superclásico”.

Sometimes the rivalry between the teams goes beyond the purely sporting sphere and can even have other connotations, such as cultural or political. A clasico is much more than just a football match, it is the moment when thousands of fans gather to witness how the impossible ceases to be impossible. A goal can suddenly change the history of a club and turn a player into a legend.

Spain’s top La Liga derbies

  • Real Madrid vs Futbol Club Barcelona

The most important derby in the Spanish league, more commonly known as “El Clasico”, is the match between. The Catalan club was the 19th club to be founded in Spain and the Madrid club the 21st. The first clashes between the two teams took place in the Copa del Rey, the country’s first official national competition, but the two sides also showed absolute superiority in their respective Autonomous Communities, becoming the two most successful teams in their respective regional tournaments.

However, the rivalry between Real Madrid and Footbol Club Barcelona began to take on greater relevance in the middle of the 20th century, when the white club signed Alfredo Di Stéfano, thus making a great qualitative leap forward. It is worth noting that at that time, Footbol Club Barcelona dominated the league championships along with Athletic Bilbao and Atlético Madrid, but since the signing of this player, both the white club and the azulgrana club have managed to win all the official tournaments in Spain and even in Europe, becoming the two rivals to beat and, consequently, dominating the confrontation between the two.

In the 21st century, the term “El Clásico” emerged in order to highlight the importance of the match between Real Madrid and Footbol Club Barcelona, claiming that it was the most repeated match between Spanish clubs to justify its adoption, although this was not true until the 2011/2012 season, as prior to this the most common match at national level in official tournaments was the match between Real Madrid and Athletic Club de Bilbao.

In a way, to speak of “El Clásico” referred, before being the most repeated match in Spain, to the match that pitted the two teams with the greatest successes and records in this country against each other. Both clubs had an even stronger rivalry with other teams, but as time went by, “El Clásico” turned out to be the most competitive in Spain.

  • Real Madrid vs Athletic Club de Bilbao

The match between these two teams is commonly known as the “Old Classic”. As mentioned above, until the 2011/2012 season, these matches were the most repeated encounters in the history of the sport, with a total of no less than two hundred and fifteen times between the Spanish league championship and the Copa del Rey. Therefore, many fans and media also refer to this match as a classic, as it is the third most repeated match at national level.

However, it is worth noting that this match remains the most repeated match in the history of the Copa del Rey, Spain’s oldest tournament, in which both have some of the best historical records, and which they dominated in its origins.

From this football rivalry emerged one of Real Madrid’s greatest rivals, which to this day remains so: Atlético de Madrid. This club was born in 1903 as a Madrid branch of Athletic de Bilbao.

The matches between the Madrid team and the Bilbao team acquired certain political connotations because of their different positions in this area, but despite this, there has never been a lack of respect and sportsmanship.

  • Athletic Bilbao vs Futbol Club Barcelona

This is another Spanish football classic, which is well known among fans and the media. This rivalry dates back to the 1920s and has grown over the years. Both clubs are among the oldest in Spain and, therefore, both have participated in every edition of the Spanish league.

These teams have played each other in the Copa del Rey on many occasions, which is why the match between the two has been called a classic. It is also one of the oldest rivalries in world football, as these teams met in the 1920 Copa del Rey for the first time, the oldest official tournament in Spain. Both Athletic Bilbao and Fútbol Club Barcelona are the clubs with the most titles in the history of this championship.



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