Class ! The 10 biggest games in European football right now
TV channels will tell you that every match is a must. Of course, they want you to believe that you are the only one who did not participate in this early start of the championship.
But really, some games are so watchable that you count the days before them. We thought about the best – and not just the derbies: not just the clashes between the two biggest teams either. Naturally, that helps in a game – but so does the current state of both clubs.
We have chosen games that absoutely happen every season, too. You might want to know when these are in the calendar…
10. Chelsea v Manchester City
Last season’s Champions League final could be one of the semi-finals.
Manchester City and Chelsea are two of Europe’s newest superpowers, but over the past decade have established themselves as two of the most consistent English sides in contention for trophies. They’re the richest – and these days, two of the brightest too.
With Thomas Tuchel locking horns against Pep Guardiola – often in the cup as well as in the league – the two managers approached this game like a chess encounter, slowly moving a left-back, adjusting the build structure or throwing a tactical surprise on another. There is so much to learn from this game and so many stars to light it up.
3. Inter Milan v AC Milan
Like Scotland, Juventus won nine titles in a row, before a shining blue machine stopped them in their tracks. These two teams are now closer than ever in quality.
What the Juventus/Inter rivalry lacks in personal animosity, however, it more than makes up for in other ways. Historically, they’ve been two big hitters in Italian football and it’s a game that can be used as a benchmark for both teams.
Juventus and Inter have been on the move relatively recently: but both know what a win over the other means.
8. Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund
Der Klassiker is no longer what it used to be. A previously even match between the traditional Bavarian superpower and those rambunctious underdogs from the west, this match descended into David throwing rocks against Goliath.
And while it’s a shame, there’s still plenty of intrigue to see Germany’s closest challengers try to dethrone the serial winners. There are top players on either side, incredible minds in the dugout and everyone knows the name of the game: Bayern should win, and Dortmund must find a way to stop them.
Lately, it’s Bayern’s best-deserved win of the season and the best chance to see Julian Nagelsmann flex his brains. In the event of a shock, we often witness a virtuoso performance. Who said one-sided matches had to be boring?
7. Lazio v Roma
The two giants of the Eternal City are small fry compared to the northern sides. The last of them to win a title was over 20 years ago when Roma achieved the feat in 2001.
In 2022, however, Lazio vs Roma is a bigger affair, with two managers well known to the English public in the dugout. The artistry of Maurizio Sarri at Lazio meets the uncompromising pragmatism of Jose Mourinho: both are fiery clients too (as if this game needed more).
Roman clubs couldn’t get bigger than Inter and Juve, so they adapted to try to be smarter. This game has become one of the funniest in recent years.
6. Liverpool v Chelsea
Mainz have a lot to answer for, with two managers leaving the Bundesliga side to come and lead these two English clubs to Champions League trophies.
In the big four of the 2000s, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, the front two were the upstarts, seeking to disrupt the Fergie/Wenger monopoly status quo. That sense of chaos has somehow always remained in this match, with the 2022 League Cup final arguably the most entertaining 0-0 in recent memory.
The league encounter after Christmas was equally frenetic, while the first between the Reds and the Blues at the start of the season was rhythmic and intense. When two press-savvy German coaches go head-to-head, it’s always high octane.
5. Arsenal v Tottenham
Tottenham weren’t even on Arsenal’s radar in the 2000s. It was Manchester United that the Gunners so desperately wanted to beat – then Chelsea, with the injection of Abramovich’s millions.
It wasn’t until Pochettino dragged Spurs above the Gunners in the table that the North London Derby regained their fire, helped of course by former academy product Harry Kane scoring just about every game . It’s often messy, messy and characterized by who can score who out of play: sometimes it’s a tactical masterclass on one side or the other.
But make no mistake: these two camps hate each other these days. The North London Derby is once again becoming one of the most passionate in football.
4. Celtic v Rangers
Scottish football is enjoying a resurgence. More and more Scots are playing at the top level of the Premier League, the national team have won Euro 2020 and their two biggest teams are back in full force.
Celtic and Rangers never need too many introductions – but every Old Firm side is getting tactically shrewdest and Gers closing the gap at the top has rekindled the flame at the heart of this age-old game. Rangers stopping Celtic dominance really hurt the Bhoys – but they bounced back to make this season a two-horse race.
The hate has only increased over the past few seasons: now the quality has also increased.
3. AC Milan vs Inter Milan
This season’s Champions League was the first in a decade to feature either Milan side. It’s a testament to how these two are coming back to the top.
Hakan Calhanoglu’s change of allegiance has only created more friction as Serie A has gone from a one-horse race to an open season for the Italian giants. Milan and Inter are now on a similar level, with both phenomenal young stars and cunning coaches in both dugouts.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll see this pair face off again in the Champions League in the future.
2. Barcelona v Real Madrid
El Clasico has been king for so long. Then came the shock of the system with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, before the autumn Clasico hit rock bottom without Messi.
But Real Madrid and Barcelona are reborn once again, both led by club legends (for totally different reasons). Barca look like a superpower again after a phenomenal January window as Real Madrid march towards the title.
This fixture may have lost its shine for a little while, but you just can’t dim it.
1. Manchester City v Liverpool
It is now the reference for everyone. The two best managers in the world, the two most exciting attacks and some would say the best goalkeepers, centre-backs, full-backs and midfielders on either side.
Manchester City and Liverpool fans have started to hate each other a little more in recent seasons, but for the rest of us this is the most exciting clash of the season. Nobody else is on the level of either team and recent history hasn’t disappointed either, either in the league or in Europe.
With the pair meeting in April at the Etihad, the title could be decided by this match once again – while a Champions League final between the pair is entirely possible. We just can’t get enough.
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