Newcastle v Sunderland, Villa v Birmingham and the world's deadliest derbies
It's demolition derby weekend in the Premier League, with local rivals clashing in the North-East, Midlands and London.
Newcastle v Sunderland, Aston Villa v Birmingham and Arsenal v West Ham have all had their share of tasty moments in the past. Remember missiles raining down on sub Joey Barton during his warm-up in 2008, Dion Dublin's headbutt on Robbie Savage seven years ago and Patrick Vieira spitting in Neil Ruddock's face back in 1999 - when, said Razor, "he was near enough for me to smell the garlic on his breath"?
But even these traditionally feisty clashes aren't quite hot enough to make our list of the top 10 deadliest derbies...
10) Esteghlal v Persepolis (Iran)
The annual meetings of the Iran's capital's fierce rivals are dubbed the 'Battle of Teheran'. The city's Azadi Stadium is regularly packed with 100,000 fans for the match between the working class Persepolis and the more affluent Esteghlal, and trouble is never far away.
Fans tend to smash seats and throw rubbish on to the pitch as a matter of course, but when the violence really escalates, one can expect rioting, fireworks and fighting. To avoid accusations of bias, the Iranian FA brings in foreign refs for the affair - and gets them out o the country quickly afterwards
9) Glentoran v Linfield (Northern Ireland)
The most successful football clubs in Northern Ireland’s history - Belfast's Big Two - traditionally play each other on Boxing Day but seldom is goodwill shown to all men.. Matches have frequently been marred by outbreaks of hooliganism; indeed the 2008 game had to be halted for some time after missiles had found their way on to the pitch.
In the 1985 Irish Cup Final, Glentoran fans smuggled a cockerel - their club's symbol - and a pig painted in Linfield colours to wind opposing supporters up.
8) Benfica v Porto (Portugal)
Benfica traditionally represent the south of Portugal and Porto, the north. As a result, their derbies constantly teeter on the brink of violence, with upwards of 800 police officers drafted in for the games. Matters have been stoked up still further in recent years by mutual accusations of match-fixing and by the controversial transfer of winger Cristian Rodriguez from Benfica to Porto in 2008 - only the third time in history that a player has moved from one rival to another.
Nothing personified the inter-city conflict more than the long and often brutal 1990s battles between international team-mates Joao Pinto of Benfica and Porto's Paulinho Santos. "Paulinho was very violent," said Pinto. "He went into games with one well-defined objective: to get me. He became another person and no-one could say anything to calm him down. But we accepted it because the derbies are war."
7) Ajax v Feyenoord (Holland)
The biggest rivalry in Holland is not a true derby - Ajax hail from Amsterdam, while Feyenoord are 40 miles away in Rotterdam - but like Real Madrid v Barcelona it's known as The Classic - De Klassieker. Alas, the nickname is belied by a history of violence on both sides and anti-semitism from sections of the Feyenoord support.
In 1997 opposing fans clashed in a field. The incident, in which one fan died and many more were injured, became known as the Battle of Beverwijk and led to a nationwide anti-hooligan campaign. But the uneasy truce did not last long. In 2004 Feyenoord's Jorge Acuña was hospitalised after being ambushed by Ajax Ultras at a reserve match, with team-mate Robin van Persie narrowly escaping the same fate.
6) Real Madrid v Barcelona (Spain)
Few away fans journey to El Clasico, and with good reason. The antipathy between Real and Barca springs from the General Franco era and the dictator’s suppressing of Catalan culture and identity. When Madrid lost the away leg of a 1943 Copa del Generalísimo tie 3-0, Franco was outraged and before the second leg Barcelona players got a dressing room visit from the Spanish director of state security, who is said to have told them "you are only playing because of the generosity of the regime that has forgiven you for your lack of patriotism". Wisely, Barca rolled over 11-1
Real’s greatest-ever player, Alfredo di Stefano, is another bone of contention between the clubs. The Argentinean came to Barca's attention while playing for Colombian side Bogota in a 1952 charity match against Real, and initially agreed to sign for the Catalans. But complications in the deal allowed Real to step in and in 1953, Fifa ordered him to spend four seasons in Spain, alternating between the rivals each season. Eventually, allegedly under duress from the Franco regime, Barca gave up their claim on Di Stefano in return for 4,000,000 pesetas. Two weeks later, he promptly scored twice against the club he should have signed for in a 5-1 hammering.
The 1-1 Nou Camp draw in March 2002 might be remembered now as the first time Xavi and Zinedine Zidane scored in El Clasico, were it not for the fact that the game took place during Real’s centenary season. Thoughtfully, the Catalans unveiled a giant banner reading ‘100 anos de historia, 100 anos de escoria’ – which translates as ‘100 years of history, 100 years of scum’.
The 0-0 draw in November 2002, said Spanish newspaper Marca, was “s**t”, but the Catalans’ reaction to former hero Luis Figo - now departed for Real - was extraordinary. Midway through the second half, the Portuguese needed two minutes to take a corner as the Nou Camp crowd showered him with plastic bottles and lighters, coins, golf balls, beer cans, a broken whisky bottle, a knife and – memorably - the disembodied head of a suckling pig.
5) Partizan v Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)
The 'Eternal derby' takes place between the fierce Belgrade rivals. Nearly 50 per cent of all Serbians support Red Star, while some 30 per cent side with Partizan, whose Ultras are known as the Gravediggers. With those sort of numbers involved, it's no wonder violence and hooliganism regularly marks the derbies.
Partizan keeper Vladimir Stojkovic - who conceded 12 goals in six starts for Wigan last season - is a former Red Star player who is said to have insisted on the inclusion of a clause in his contract which prevents him playing against his old club. The rumour caused Stojkovic to receive death threats from Partizan fans and embarrassed club bosses paid for security guards to protect his family.
4) Boca Juniors v River Plate (Argentina)
Just seven kilometres separates these two fierce Buenos Aires rivals but a huge class divide fuels their bitter hatred for each other. Some 70 per cent of Argentines will tie their colours to the mast of either ‘millionaires’ River (known as "the chickens" by Boca fans, because they are deemed scared of everything) or the traditionally working-class Boca (who are labelled "pigs" because they are smelly and poor in comparison to their neighbours).
Their derby is dubbed the ‘Superclasico’, and while it plays host to a carnival-like atmosphere, deep-lying antagonism bubbles under the surface - and often explodes. Fans exchange songs, flares and missiles, and flag-burning is a regular occurrence.
3) Galatasaray v Fenerbahce (Turkey)
Though both based in Istanbul, these rivals are virtually in different continents, the Bosphorus Sea strait splitting Gala (traditionally wealthy and from the European side) from working-class Fener on the Asian side. Though flares are lit and seats are uprooted and thrown, a heavy police presence has stopped the hand-to-hand combat which bedevilled the fixtures during the 190s.
However, the Turkish cops weren't on hand when the pair met in a pre-season friendly in Moenchengladbach this summer. The game was held up for 10 minutes as rival supporters threw fireworks at each other and seven fans were hospitalised with burns.
A domestic cup final between their pair is always a lively affair, but in 1996 Graeme Souness added his own brand of malice. Having won the first leg 1-0 at home, Gala travelled to Fenerbahce for the second meeting, and the hosts soon levelled the scores. But Galatasaray sealed victory with an extra-time goal from Dean Saunders, prompting Souness to grab a Gala, run on to the field and plant it slap bang in the middle of the centre circle - sparking a riot in the process.
2) Rangers v Celtic (Scotland)
What the Old Firm derby lacks in footballing quality it makes up for in raw passion and blood-curdling nastiness. The rivalry is based on sectarian lines – the Catholics side with Celtic, while the Protestants opt for Rangers – and problems blaze when the two clubs meet.
The 1970s proved particular spicy as fans reacted to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Celtic chanted for the IRA while Rangers let their loyalist tendencies be known with songs about William of Orange and the joys of being "up to our knees in Fenian blood". In 1995 Mark Scott, who was wearing a Celtic shirt, was stabbed to death as he walked past a pub full of Rangers fans.
In truth, it doesn't take much to get these two sets of fans scrapping, though. In 2002 a group of Celtic fans began flying Palestinian flags; Rangers supporters responded by unfurling the Israeli equivalent.
1) AS Roma and Lazio
The Derby della Capitale between AS Roma – the club set up by Fascists in 1927 – and Lazio in Italy’s capital is considered the fiercest local rivalry in the country. Expect flares, throat-cutting gestures and tons of violence.
Thirty years ago Lazio fan Vincenzo Paparelli died after being struck in the eye with a flare lobbed by a Roma supporter – the first fatality in Italian football.
And five seasons ago, Roma’s Ultras forced the derby to be postponed mid-match after disseminating false rumours that police had run over and killed a boy before kick-off. Four minutes into the second half a riot kicked off and Roma captain Francesco Totti was asked by the hooligans to call for the abandonment.
A lengthy battle between both sets of fans and police ensued, stands went up in smoke and people fled the stadium screaming. Eventually over 13 arrests were made and over 170 police alone were injured.