On Sunday Serie A soccer will see two of the most iconic matches taking place. The Derby della Capitale between AS Roma and Lazio and the Derby d'Italia between Inter and Juventus will conclude the final matchday before the International break (remember you can catch Serie A action all season long, only on Paramount+) and that's a perfect chance to rank the top ten Italian rivalries of all time. Italian soccer is full of grudge matches and great stories about some of the most iconic clashes that usually every season take place. Let's go around the country to see which games made it in the list.
10. Fiorentina vs. Juventus
This rivalry became particularly tense during the 1990's when former Fiorentina player Roberto Baggio joined the Bianconeri in the summer of 1990. The Italian soccer icon was one of the most loved players at the club and his move to Juventus heated up the rivalry between the two sides. Baggio's move was a big scandal back then, but in the last years more Fiorentina players joined Juventus, such as Federico Bernardeschi, Federico Chiesa and lastly Dusan Vlahovic.
9. Inter vs. Napoli
The rivalry between Inter and Napoli comes from the 1980's when the two teams where considered among the best and were fighting to win the Scudetto when Diego Maradona was playing in Serie A. However, the two fanbases have a history due to the historic tensions between the North and the South of the country. Inter are from Milan and embrace the power and the wealth of the North while Napoli is the most populated southern city and are always considered as the big rivals to the northern cities, Milan in particular. Inter and Napoli's ultras groups had some big clashes in recent years that have less to do with this history, and more to do with ultras rivalries, especially after 2018 when a member of the Nerazzurri's group was killed by a Napoli ultra. After this episode Napoli fans that live around Naples still can't attend away matches, such as the one on January 6 of this year, to prevent new clashes.
8. Genoa vs. Sampdoria
One of the most iconic Italian city derbies: Genoa vs. Sampdoria is also called Derby della Lanterna for the lighthouse that is one of the symbols of the city. The rivalry doesn't need many explanations as the two clubs are from the same city and it's by far one of the best atmosphere that you can experience in Italy. Sadly, this year this match is not taking place because the two teams play in different leagues as Genoa are in the Serie B after they were relegated last year and there is a big chance that it won't take place also next season as Sampdoria are currently at the bottom of the Serie A while the city rivals are well positioned to be promoted back into the first division.
7. Atalanta vs. Brescia
One of the most tense rivalries between fanbases is the one between Atalanta and Brescia. The two cities, Bergamo and Brescia, are historically antagonistic beyond soccer, but as always happens sports are a good (or bad) place to reinforce a rivalry. The tension escalated in 1993, when the Atalanta fans invaded the pitch and started to fight on the pitch with the home fans. Another episode is the one that happened in 2001 when former Brescia coach Carlo Mazzone became famous for his run towards the Atalanta fans in the Brescia-Atalanta derby. After they insulted him for the whole match, Mazzone "promised" to the rival fans that he would have run under their away section if Brescia managed to equalize (they were down 3-1 at halftime). After the two goals scored by Roberto Baggio for Brescia, Mazzone kept his word.
6. Palermo vs. Catania
The Sicilian derby is one of the most iconic clashes in Italian soccer. The two clubs represent also the two biggest cities of the region and their rivalry escalated in the 1980's for some violent episodes between the two fanbases. The game is sadly also remembered for the death of policeman Filippo Raciti in 2007 during clashes between the Catania ultras group and the police. After this episode the whole Serie A tournament stopped for a week and Catania couldn't play at their home stadium for the remainder of the season.
5. Inter vs. AC Milan
Let's enter the top five of the rivalries with the Derby della Madonnina, one of the most iconic games of Italian soccer. Despite the fact we are talking about the most awaited Serie A match of the season every year, the rivalry between the fans is very different than the others. Both Inter and AC Milan are used to winning trophies and they've shared the biggest stage for their whole history so far, with only a few exceptions. That's why their rivalry is much more focused on the pitch, and main is about winning trophies, like what happened this past season when the Rossoneri won the Scudetto against the city rivals on the last matchday of the season. Also, starting in 1983, the two most influential ultras groups of the two teams agreed to not have any episodes of violence between the two sides. This definitely helped the whole atmosphere calm down right before the 1980's and 1990's, when the ultras groups around Europe started to become a crucial issue for the safety of the games, not only in Italy.
4. Napoli vs. AS Roma
This rivalry comes from a friendship between the two fanbases that escalated into one of the most intense rivalries of Italian soccer. During the 1970's and 80's this game was called the Derby of the Sun because of the good relationships between the fans, but after a contentious match in 1987 everything changed. The rivalry heated up and was mostly between the fans outside the pitch, until it all escalated badly before the 2014 Coppa Italia final when the Napoli ultra Ciro Esposito was shot and killed by a Roma ultra, Daniele De Santis. The incident led to a long delay and negotiation between the police and the Napoli ultras group, led by a person who was wearing a t-shirt supporting the Catania's ultra who killed the policeman Filippo Raciti in 2007. Then in January of this year 180 people were identified in relation to possible involvement in violent clashes that took place on Italy's A1 motorway between AS Roma and Napoli fans, and after this episode the Italian government banned the two club's fanbases from attending away games for the next two months.
3. Napoli vs. Juventus
This rivalry has multiple stories and meanings. First of all, like the one between Napoli and Inter, Juventus represent the values of the nothern Italy and that makes Napoli and Juventus are the opposite of each others creatin a rivalry exacerbated by the story of the two cities as well. In the last few years it became even stronger since Napoli started to compete to win the title, like in 2018, when the Azzurri scored 91 points but it was not enough to beat Juventus, despite winning the key match in Turin thanks to the goal scored by Kalidou Koulibaly. Also, the transfer of Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus became one of the symbols of this rivalry, as the Bianconeri paid the 90 million release clause to sign the Argentinian striker in the summer of 2016.
2. Inter vs. Juventus
Here it comes the Derby d'Italia, (airing Sunday on Paramount+) one of the most important games of Italian soccer. Inter and Juventus have a long list of extraordinary games that made the history of the Serie A. The rivalry reached its pick in the 1990's when the two sides were fighting for the title race, especially during the 1997-98 season when Ronaldo (the original, not the Cristiano version who would later play for Juventus) was not awarded a penalty for Inter at a critical moment, which created a big scandal among the Inter fans. Then, in 2002, Inter lost the Scudetto on the last matchday after losing away against Lazio, and the Bianconeri won the title. The rivalry became even bigger in 2006, when Juventus were involved in Calciopoli, the big referee scandal which led them to get relegated to Serie B the following season. In the meantime, Inter were awarded the 2005-06 title, though Juventus fans still consider that title theirs, unofficially at least. More recently, the rivalry came up again when Antonio Conte joined Inter after the former Juventus captain had restored the Bianconeri to the top of Serie A, launching a period of dominance that lasted for a decade. It lasted, in fact, until Conte ended it at the helm of Inter.
1. AS Roma vs. Lazio
By far the most heated rivalry of Italian soccer. AS Roma and Lazio fans live for this match and the whole city literally stops when the game is happening. There is a saying about the Derby della Capitale: "In Milan you talk about the Derby for a week, in Rome for a year". And this is absolutely true. However, there were also some serious episodes of violence between the ultras groups of the two clubs over the years. The most notable happened in 1979 when Lazio supporter Vincenzo Paparelli was killed. Roma fans in the Curva Sud launched two nautical flares in the direction of the Lazio fans at the opposite end. Neither hit their intended targets. The third traversed the entire field from end to end and hit Paparelli directly in the left eye. In 2004, the Derby della Capitale was suspended after the supporter groups of both Roma and Lazio reacted to the news that a boy was killed by a police car before the match and demanded for the game to be suspended. It came out later that it was not actually true, but the two ultras groups forced the game to be stopped anyway and then had clashes outside the stadium.