Italy is passionate about football and has produced some incredible footballers over the years. When the top Italian football derbies come around, in Serie A or the lower divisions, it’s an intense occasion.
With Serie A home to some of the best teams in Europe, it’s hardly surprising that many Italian clubs have tens of thousands of die-hard fans. Derby games are heated affairs both on the pitch and in the stands and it is certainly not uncommon to see tensions boil over, especially when trophies are on the line.
We decided to take a look at the eight biggest derbies in Italian football which have lit up Serie A over the years.
Biggest Italian football derbies
Sampdoria vs. Genoa (Derby Della Lanterna)
The city of Genoa finds itself home to the oldest of the Italian football derbies – the battle between Sampdoria and Genoa. The first tie dates back to 1902 when Sampdoria were known as Andrea Doria but the merger with another local side saw the formation of I Blucercichiati in 1946.
Since then, Sampdoria have certainly had the advantage over their crosstown rivals, winning 40 ties to Genoa’s 26. Although Genoa have been outclassed by Sampdoria in recent history, with both teams using the Stadio Luigi Ferraris as their home ground, the two are never far apart. It’s a football rivalry that continues to ebb and flow and provides fascinating battles well into its second century.
AC Milan vs. Inter Milan (Derby Della Madonnina)
One of the premier clashes in European football, let alone Serie A, the Milan derby is perhaps the most famous entry on our list of Italian derbies.
Both AC and Inter have vast fan bases who create an electric atmosphere at derby games unlike anywhere else in Europe. This derby has played out in almost every stage imaginable, from Serie A to the Coppa Italia and even the Champions League.
There have been plenty of memorable moments over the years, including AC Milan’s Champions League semi-final victory in 2004 or their 6-0 win in 2001 against their cross-town rivals. There is always something happening when the two clashes in the hallowed grounds of the San Siro with more history ready to unfold as years pass by.
Lazio vs. Roma (Derby Della Capitale)
The Rome derby between Lazio and Roma is a grand affair and certainly one fitting the spectacle of a city as grand as the Italian capital. Both sides bring legions of fans to the Stadio Olimpico in one of the most colourful backdrops anywhere in football. Indeed, it’s one of the biggest European derbies.
Most of these Italian football derbies are intense affairs on the pitch, with plenty of notable incidents over the years. No one has enjoyed these games though more than Francesco Totti who had an astounding record for scoring in this tie. The Roma legend played 44 matches against Lazio, scoring 11 times and making him a cult hero to the Giallorossi – a record unmatched by any other player for either side.
Juventus vs. Torino (Derby Della Mole)
Juventus are comfortably the larger side in the Turin derby, despite their relegation after the Calciopoli scandal, but that doesn’t put Torino off from putting up a fight against their bigger brother. Indeed, the divide between the two teams is what makes the rivalry flourish with Juventus representing the upper classes whilst Torino are well associated with the lower classes of society.
Understandably, Torino are always desperate to prove themselves in this tie and were never more successful than in the 1970s where they won six consecutive Turin derbies. However, they also had a 20-year barren spell from 1995-2015 where the Bianconieri would dominate the ties. However, this David vs Goliath battle is one of the best Italian football derbies in Serie A.
Chievo vs. Hellas Verona (Derby Della Scala)
Much like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Verona sees itself torn between two warring factions when it comes to football – with fans choosing between Chievo and Hellas Verona. The derby is relatively new with both sides only meeting for the first time in 1994 but the rise of both sides into regular Serie A participants has made this a clash worth watching.
Both sides are often found close to one another in the table meaning that more than bragging rights are on the line. The balance between both sides in league meetings is tied at seven wins apiece showing just how tight each match is when it comes around. A great battle that is always guaranteed to generate some tense action.
Palermo vs. Catania (Derby Di Sicilia)
One of the Italian football derbies known for fierce hatred, the action between Sicilian sides Palermo and Catania is always on a knife-edge. This is a clash that spans every inch of the island and is known for poor fan behaviour, making it one of the most dangerous derbies in the world.
Riots between both sides in 2007 saw a policeman killed and all Italian football suspended until the matter was settled. It led to the point where away fans were banned from visiting stadiums for several seasons until hostilities settled down.
Both teams have struggled off the pitch in recent seasons, with the sides now in Serie C. However, the tension continue whenever these derbies occur, which both clubs hope will eventually be in Serie A once more.
Roma vs. Napoli (Derby Del Sole)
Southern Italy is often looked down upon by their northern neighbours and this clash of classes has given birth to a rather intense rivalry between Roma and Napoli. The two sides have often found themselves locking horns in the upper reaches of Serie A, adding fuel to a simmering fire waiting to explode.
With both teams seen to represent their regions, they bring large supporter bases whilst travelling, cementing the cauldron-like feel in the stadium just before kick-off. It’s one of the great Italian derbies and often settles the minor placings when teams are fighting for European qualification spots.
Bologna vs. Fiorentina (Derby Dell’Appennino)
Situated at either end of the Apennines mountain range, the football rivalry between Bologna and Fiorentina is more heated than you would expect. Both sides have enjoyed long runs in Serie A to mixed success and their proximity to one another has made it a popular clash between each side of supporters.
Not all of this has been positive though, as clashes in the 1988/89 season in a game in Florence saw a match abandoned as Bologna fans raided the stadium with Molotov cocktails, severely injuring several fans. This incited deep hatred between both sides that continues to boil over to the current day ensuring an intense affair when these sides clash in one of the big Serie A derbies.