Top 10 Best Rivalries in Sports

There's nothing like the adrenaline-pumping drama of a killer rivalry. Whether it's two squads with decades of bad blood or a fresh face-off that's just getting spicy, rivalries ignite that fire in athletes and fans that we can't get enough of

You've got endless options, too, spanning every sport you can think of. NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL - you name it, there's a rivalry for it, at every echelon of the game

So, what are the GOAT rivalries in sports history? That's where you come into play. We've got a list lined up with some of the most epic clashes ever, but we're not finalizing it without your say. Cast your votes, rep your favorites, and help us crown the ultimate rivalries!

Whether you bleed your team's colors or just love the electric charge of a fierce match-up, we've got a rivalry that'll make your heart race. So suit up, slap on that game face, and let's get amped for a deep dive into the sports rivalries that you can't afford to miss.
The Top Ten
1 Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona Soccer

Baseball and American football, or rugby as some may refer to it, are played primarily in America and a handful of other nations, which collectively represent only about 10% of the world's population. Ask an Indian like me, or someone from China or Russia. We don't even know who the Michigan or Yankee teams are. On the other hand, soccer is universal. Even a child in Sudan knows who Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are. Hence, the greatest sports rivalry ever simply has to be the greatest soccer (football) rivalry in history.

By the way, a match between Madrid and Barcelona is called "El Clásico" or "The Classic." Every professional football player has admitted this: when they play, every football player and manager around the world stops whatever he or she is doing and sits to watch this game.

2 Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Football

This isn't a one-day-a-year rivalry. This game defines both states for the entire year. No one from Ohio is caught dead with blue on, and no one from Michigan is caught dead with scarlet on. This is more than football.

When I was a child, even before I knew what sports were, I was taught to hate Michigan. I didn't just hate the University of Michigan. No, that is too easy. We are taught to hate the whole state and all of its inhabitants.

I know people who drive through each other's state and refuse to stop and get gas or eat a meal because they don't want their tax money going to the other state. This is more than a sports rivalry. This is just pure, unadulterated hatred between two groups of people.

3 India vs. Pakistan Cricket

Arguably the biggest rivalry in sports! There is immense excitement prior to the match. People skip their offices, shut their businesses, and students bunk their schools and colleges just for this game. A game watched by 1.2 billion mad cricket fans from both countries.

The match gets so close and intense at times that fans from both sides lose their cool, leading them to break their TV sets in anger. A few even suffer cardiac arrests, unable to digest the loss. Such is the love and craziness for this game here in the Subcontinent. It should have been ranked 1 on the list.

4 New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox Baseball

Former baseball and Red Sox pitcher Bill "Spaceman" Lee once said, "The people of Boston live in silent dread of the Yankees. Whenever the Red Sox prepared to play the Yankees, it was as if they were dressing up for battle... We knew we were getting ready to take the field and uphold our values, as though we were knights in armor. That's how I felt. And I wasn't alone."

It's Joeysworld

The most intense rivalry in the world: the 2003 and 2004 ALCS just define it. Think about the curse of the Bambino: The Red Sox trading the best player in baseball history to the Yankees, a move that would put a curse on them for 86 years. The intense brawls in the 1970s, then more brawls in the early 2000s, occurred in an overall peaceful sport. An 80-year-old pitching coach being thrown down by a pitcher.

In 2003, there was the walk-off home run in Game 7, Bottom of the 11th, that would send the Yankees to the World Series. Then the next year in 2004, after the Yankees took a 3-0 series lead, the Red Sox won four straight to go to the World Series and reverse the curse. Games with some of the best players, like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and Pedro Martinez. There is no question that this is the best rivalry in all of sports. Case closed.

5 Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens Hockey

I'm a Habs fan and I despise the Bruins. Growing up in Montreal, hockey is a part of life. The folk heroes are Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, and Jacques Plante.

When Chara almost killed Pacioretty a few years ago, I flipped out. I couldn't believe those Bruins were trying to beat the clearly superior team. Go Habs Go!

The biggest, and most brutal rivalry in sports. Any time the two teams meet, it's extreme high intensity, and a blood battle. Should be top 3, if not, then first place on this list. Most Bostonians would agree this rivalry is much more intense than Sox vs. Yankees.

6 Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers Basketball

They are the biggest of the NBA, the green vs. yellow. Also, they had some of the best players. Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, just to name a few.

Plus, the Celtics have 17 championships, and the Lakers have 16. First and second place. Undoubtedly the best in the NBA.

Green and Yellow Jerseys. What a good matchup.

When they play, it gets tense. Go Celtics!

7 Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal Tennis

Two of the best athletes ever in the world's hardest sport. It may not have the hate of other rivalries, but the competition is intense.

Fiercely contested and always exciting, a strong candidate for the best rivalry.

Two of the greatest players ever in a rivalry spanning so many years.

8 Duke vs. North Carolina Basketball

This is by far the best because both are continuously great. Ohio State and Michigan took long breaks from winning national championships. So long for Michigan, in fact, that between their last two championships we sent a man to the moon. For Ohio State, the US exited the Vietnam War, communism fell, and much more. If you aren't in the national conversation, your rivalry is consistently insignificant.

The best rivalry in college athletics is, without any doubt, Duke vs. Carolina in basketball. The fact that both programs are consistently excellent is unparalleled in any rivalry in any sport. They account for eight national championships since 1982. Not to mention, one or the other has been in the Final Four for 20 of the 28 years since 1982, and once, both made it!

Although rivalries like Red Sox-Yankees and Liverpool-Manchester United are professional and therefore attract much larger urban and national fanbases in a way that Duke-Carolina cannot, no other rivalry has sustained a record of success for both teams in their respective leagues for so long. This makes it possibly the best rivalry in all of sports.

The fact that these two teams play each other twice does not diminish the rivalry aspect, despite what many proponents of the Ohio State-Michigan football rivalry like to claim. (No one claims that the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is in any way diminished by the fact that they play multiple games against each other, to prove the point.)

Both programs are also at top universities with perfectly clean records, which adds to the rivalry's pedigree, class, and mutual respect, as well as its vitriol. The added element of the public "everyman" versus private "elite" introduces a class warfare element that can only be replicated by intra-city rivalries like Yankees-Mets, White Sox-Cubs, or even USC-UCLA and Stanford-Cal. However, none of these rivalries have the incredible success of Carolina-Duke.

The fact that the two campuses are only eight miles apart only adds further fuel to the fire. There is nothing quite like Carolina-Duke in the entire world. The fact that this rivalry also includes alumni who were integral parts of each community is something that no professional sports rivalry can ever replicate.

9 Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears Football

The Chicago Bears. A team built on toughness and centered in the great city of Chicago. One of the most respected teams in the sport, no matter what their record might be.

The Green Bay Packers. A team built on cheese in a small town that could easily fit into the stadium.

I'll let you choose which one you like better.

Don't care if Rodgers is number one. Don't care about how many Super Bowls. Don't care about how many championships. Don't care about Vince Lombardi. Don't care about Bart Starr. Bears rule forever, no matter how they perform.

10 New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders Hockey

The Rangers have an Original Six legacy and 4 cups. The Isles have the longest playoff series winning streak in North American Sports history (1980-1983, 19 consecutive series won) and 4 cups.

You can't take away either of those from either team. Both teams have history, and while the Rangers are more popular, the Isles have earned their keep in New York much more quickly by getting the same amount of cups in half the time.

Neither team is going anywhere...

Two teams from New York, each with huge fan bases, and it's always a close game. This is one of the top NHL rivalries by far.

The Contenders
11 Notre Dame vs. USC Football

The two greatest teams in college football history are the Irish and Trojans. Historically, they have fought for a national championship as the two programs each claim 11 National Championships, although Notre Dame has 11 consensus championships compared to USC's 6. Both schools have 7 Heisman winners and have produced the most NFL players, NFL Hall of Famers, and College Football Hall of Famers in history.

This rivalry is a respectful one, but the stakes are always high. They fight on the field and in the recruiting war. Michigan-Ohio State may have more hate for each other, but Notre Dame-USC is the rivalry of champions.

12 Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings Hockey

Should be way higher up, I think. One of the oldest Original 6, and Western Division rivalries before the 2013 realignment. Intensity and hatred similar to Habs vs. Bruins.

13 Army vs. Navy Football

No matter who wins this college football game, America wins. Go Army! Beat Navy!

Best, most patriotic game in the land. Go Navy, beat Army.

14 Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots Football

It's just not the same anymore ever since Peyton left, but the games are still pretty fierce. Just wait until Andrew Luck becomes more experienced, and Colts vs. Pats is going to be the game to look for again.

15 Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier Boxing

Great rivalry. Ali was overall the better boxer but, boy oh boy, Joe punished him brutally.

16 Cracovia vs. Wisla Krakow Soccer
17 Liverpool vs. Manchester United Soccer

Liverpool vs. Manchester United is undoubtedly the greatest football rivalry, if not the greatest in sports. The most competitive and intense game. Last season, it was Manchester United winning both games 2-1, and Liverpool finished 7th.

This season, Liverpool beat United 1-0 and 0-3, and United are finishing 7th. This shows the unpredictability.

18 Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce Soccer
19 River Plate vs. Boca Juniors Soccer

If we are going beyond the pitch, one can make a case for top 3 because it is so volatile. Sadly, violence is guaranteed when these two clubs meet.

Should be top 10, but some American (United States) made this list. NCAA Basketball rivalry top 2? Are you kidding me?

20 Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State Spartans Football

Everyone in Michigan either bleeds green or blue. The winner gets bragging rights at every family reunion!

21 Montreal Canadiens vs. Quebec Nordiques Hockey

There has been blood, some bad calls, and mostly, great series. It's the most intense rivalry of all!

22 Rangers vs. Celtic Soccer (Old Firm)

This should be hands down number one. You should go to a match and see the measures to stop fans from killing each other. It is pure hate in its purest form.

Easily number 1. Do a bit of reading on this, and you'll change your mind.

23 Red Star Belgrade vs. Partizan Belgrade Soccer
24 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Ottawa Senators Hockey
25 Auburn vs. Alabama Football

I grew up in Alabama. You were either yelling War Eagle or Roll Tide. That's it. There are no other distractions. No professional teams in any sport to get in the way. Zero.

It's all about college football. I'll be honest with you - there's nothing else to do in Alabama. The world revolves around this rivalry that involves two of the best programs in the nation every year. Seven out of the last eight years, the winner of this game was in the National Championship Game. Can Michigan and Ohio State say that? Close? Uh, no. Not close.

It's the Heisman Trophy. It's the National Championship. It's the Iron Bowl. It's what exemplifies college football. I can't speak for other countries in the world, but in the United States, this is the best rivalry in sports.

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