The Best Footballing Rivalries From the 2010s

Updated on February 17, 2020
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20 Times. Avid United fan through the hard times and the good. Still believes Wes Brown is the real hero of Old Trafford.

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (2010-2013)


El Clásico

The rivalry between Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid has always been a fierce one, but it was stepped up another notch when Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho joined Madrid in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and co. were well on their way to becoming the most successful side in Barcelona history, romping to a historical treble in 2008-09 and would win the Champions League in 2011. It is widely considered to be amongst the best football sides ever amassed, and was especially special given how many members of the side had come through the Barcelona youth academy, La Masia.

Jose Mourinho had just won a historic treble of his own at Inter Milan, beating Guardiola's side in the Champions League semi-finals, whereas Cristiano Ronaldo was arguably the best player in the world when he arrived at Madrid so there was plenty for the Madrid faithful to be positive about going into the three year feud.

Guardiola would win La Liga twice more against Mourinho, taking his league tally with Barcelona to three before his departure. As mentioned, he bested Mourinho in the 2011 Champions League and never finished outside the semi-final places in his four years at the helm of the Catalan giants. Alongside his two Champions Leagues and three La Ligas, Guardiola would win another nine more trophies during his time in Catalonia.

Mourinho, for his part, probably did the best he could in coming up against the world's best side at the time, even besting Guardiola in his final season in 2011/12. During that season, Mourinho amassed a legendary counter-attacking side that registered over one hundred points.

This was the pinnacle of Spanish football and the pinnacle of Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. El Clásico became the best football match on the planet and, with the stakes so high, tension and controversy was never far away.

Manchester United vs. Manchester City (2009-2013)


The Rise Of The Noisy Neighbours

The influx of Sheikh Mansour's billions into Manchester City was a serious, serious statement of intent. Across the city, Sir Alex Ferguson was on the verge of singlehandedly making his Manchester United side the most successful in English football. With twenty years of experience behind him Ferguson had seen off challenges from countless managers, ranging from the likes of Kevin Keegan and David Moyes, to Rafael Benietez and Arsene Wenger.

And whilst the start of Manchester United's recent decline might have had its roots in the club's sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, Ferguson's genius, in the short term at least, still ensured the club were never far away from silverware.

Manchester City, once dubbed as United's 'noisy neighbours' by Ferguson, were determined to not only reach their level, but surpass it. Under Roberto Mancini and talents such as Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero, the Citizens began their assault on United's dominance.

For four years, the two Manchester clubs were the best in the land, jostling eachother at the top of the table and in the country's domestic cups. A previously one-sided rivalry was suddenly the biggest game in the land.

Memorable moments for United included Robin Van Persie's last minute free kick at the Ethiad and Wayne Rooney's overhead winner against City, which was later voted the best goal in Premier League history.

City secured some equally memorable moments however. Their 1-6 demolition at Old Trafford would turn out to be the first indication of a power shift in Manchester, and their last second grasp of their first Premier League title from United remains the best moment in Premier League history. And whilst City have found a tough challenger in the form of Liverpool recently, nothing will ever top this iconic piece of English footballing history.

Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund (2011-2013)


Der Klassiker

As the power of world football slowly shifted away from Spain at the start of the 2010s, it was Germany that emerged as the continental powerhouse through its two top teams: Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Under Jupp Heynckers and Jurgen Klopp, both sides constructed highly successful, yet very contrasting teams.

After a slight slump at the back end of the 2000s, Bayern has reestablished themselves as serious contenders thanks to the additions of the likes of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos. They had finished behind Dortmund in the 2010/11, 11/12 and DFP Pokal Final in 2012, as well as missing out on a Champions League on home soil in a legendary match against Chelsea in the same year. However, they remained a team on the up and would soon find an ungodly amount of success.

Jurgen Klopp had already masterminded a league title win in 2010/11, but continued to build on his side and secured an even more impressive title and cup double in 2011/12. Such was Dortmund's talent that the likes of Mats Hummels, Mario Gotze, Ilkay Gundogan, Shinji Kagawa, Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all eventually sold to fellow world class sides around the continent, with Klopp also departing for Liverpool in 2015.

The pinnacle of the rivalry would come in May 2013 and the Champions League final held at Wembley. Dortmund talisman Mario Gotze had already kicked Bayern's future dominance into gear by announcing that he would be joining the Bavarian giants, but there was still hope for Klopp and co. as they started the match the brighter of the two sides.

Alas, an infamous last minute Robben winner secured redemption for Bayern and the side hasn't looked back since.


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