Top 10 Most Heated Rivalries in Sports

Script written by Clayton Martino Although they might not admit it publicly, many supporters of these teams would rather beat their enemy than win a championship. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Rivalries in Sports. For this list, we're looking at the best rivalries between professional teams. As such, we won't be including college teams, such as North Carolina and Dukein basketball, or national clubs, like India and Pakistan in cricket. Special thanks to our users ryan, Vincent DeQwann Fripp, Woody Raynor, Ethan Epstein, and Daniel Fong for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Clayton Martino

Top 10 Most Heated Rivalries in Sports


Although they might not admit it publicly, many supporters of these teams would rather beat their enemy than win a championship. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Rivalries in Sports.
For this list, we’re looking at the best rivalries between professional teams. As such, we won’t be including college teams, such as North Carolina and Duke in basketball, or national clubs, like India and Pakistan in cricket.

#10: River Plate vs. Boca Juniors
Football

Every good rivalry needs a name, and it’s hard to beat the Superclásico, which describes the matches contested by these two Buenos Aires, Argentina rivals. In an event labeled one of the 50 sporting things you must do before you die by The Observer, the teams have played over 200 times, with Boca holding a slight advantage in the wins department. The rivalry gets even more heated off the field, however. Though both teams draw fans from all walks of life, stereotypically Boca supporters come from the working class while the wealthier members of society typically support River Plate. This sometimes results in violence, for example in 1968, when a brawl got out of hand and 71 fans were killed by a falling gate.

#9: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants
MLB

These teams first met on the diamond in 1890 when they were both based in NYC, and the hatred between them hasn’t softened, even after both franchises relocated to the West Coast. These California teams have squared off over 2,400 times, with the Giants holding a slight advantage in the wins and championships columns, boosted by their success in recent seasons. Based not only on a rivalry between teams but also on hostility between cities, the conflict has at times spilled off the field and turned violent. For example, in 2011, a Giants supporter was assaulted by two Dodgers fans in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, while in 2013, a Dodger fan was stabbed to death not far from AT&T Park after a Giants win.

#8: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
NFL

Motivated by a rivalry once ranked by ESPN as the NFL’s best, these two franchises have combined to win eight Super Bowls. And they often have to go through each other to get there, as they’ve played twice during the regular season every year since 1961. The rivalry began off the field, with Cowboys founder Clint Murchison, Jr. and Redskins owner George Preston Marshall trading insults and bad blood before Dallas was even a team. And although the Cowboys hold a regular season advantage of 65-43 as of 2015, the Redskins are 2-0 in the playoffs against their hated foe. With both teams struggling in recent years, the rivalry has simmered; but it’s still one of the best.

#7: New South Wales vs. Queensland
Rugby League

This rivalry doesn’t have the international publicity as some of the others on this list, but it’s been called Australian sport’s greatest rivalry and has been attracting bigger television audiences in recent years. Called the State of Origin, it pits The Blues against the Maroons in a best-of-three series held once a year. Players are selected to each team based on where they played their first ever-senior rugby league game. A rough and often violent series – even for rugby league – the series was exceptionally even for the first twenty or so years, but Queensland won 9 of 10 contests between 2006-15.

#6: Liverpool F.C. vs. Manchester United F.C.
Football

While Arsenal/Tottenham is another great English Premier League rivalry, we chose Liverpool/Manchester United. First competing in 1894, the clubs have since played each other a couple hundred times. While both teams’ glory days are behind them, Man U has won more contests between the two. Also, despite the fact that Liverpool fans used to love boasting about having the most League titles in history, Man U now holds that distinction too with 20. In this rivalry, the hatred extends to fans, coaches and even players, who publicly declare their hatred for the other side: Man U’s Wayne Rooney once stated that he grew up hating Liverpool, while Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard claimed he’d never keep a Manchester United shirt in his house.

#5: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
NFL

The first game between these two rivals resulted in a Bears player breaking the nose of a Packers player with a sucker punch to the face. Is it any wonder there’s been a heated rivalry ever since? Given the dominance of the Packers post-2008 in the Aaron Rodgers era, it might be surprising to learn that the Bears hold the advantage in the series as of 2015 – albeit barely. In 2011, the teams played each other in the NFC Championship Game, the first postseason meeting between the teams since 1941. The Packers won the game 21-14 and went to win the fifth Super Bowl in the franchise’s history that February.

#4: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
NHL

The Canadiens’ storied history has resulted in rivalries with several teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Quebec Nordiques. However, nothing compares to their conflict with fellow Original Six-ers, the Boston Bruins. The clubs have faced off more than any other two teams in NHL history, with the rivalry leaning in favor of Montreal. With the Big Bad Bruins known for size and strength and the Habs praised for speed and skill, there’s no love lost between these two teams – and that feeling’s lasted generations. In 1955, a violent encounter between Boston and Montreal helped spark the politically motivated Richard Riot that tore through the Canadian city, while one game during the 2010-11 season ended with an astonishing 187 penalty minutes.

#3: Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers
NBA

This rivalry is less about hatred and more about success. They are two of the most successful teams in NBA history, combining for 33 Championships as of 2015 – or nearly half of all NBA Championships ever won. Considered by many to be the best rivalry in the NBA, they’ve met up an incredible 12 times in the NBA Finals, with the Celtics holding a 9-3 advantage. The rivalry reached its peak in the 1980s thanks to Boston’s Larry Bird and LA’s Magic Johnson, when the teams met in the Finals in three of four seasons.

#2: New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
MLB

This rivalry dates back to 1919 when the Red Sox owner sold the iconic Babe Ruth to the Yankees, kicking off the Curse of the Bambino and a decades-long championship drought for Boston. The animosity really escalated in the early 2000s, however, with multiple on-field fights and confrontations. Although these teams first faced each other in 1901, they have only met in the ALCS three times as of 2015 – in 1999, 2003, and 2004. In 2003, the Yankees stunned the Red Sox in Game 7. Boston would get its revenge the following year, however, becoming the first team in baseball history to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win, culminating in their first World Series title in 86 years.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
NHL
- A.C. Milan vs. Inter Milan
Football
- Chicago Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons
NBA

#1: Real Madrid C.F. vs. FC Barcelona
Football

As they’re two of the most popular and valuable teams around, this is as intense a rivalry as you’ll ever see. In fact, every game contested between these football clubs is called El Clásico – or “The Classic” – and for good reason. And while El Clásico has been overshadowed in recent years by the competition between individual players like Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the tension remains. Motivated by politics as much as it is by the thrill of the game, these teams represent the two largest cities in Spain, and – historically – two different sides of the political field. Infractions on the pitch and verbal jousting off have made this one of the more compelling rivalries in any sport.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the best rivalry in sports? For more exciting Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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