Do you know why a Barcelona vs Real Madrid match takes the centre-stage in La Liga? Can you explain why fans go crazy over an encounter between Manchester United and Manchester City or between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal? Because nothing excites fans more than seeing their team take the spoils in an intense derby.
These games are not just between two local teams, they are between rivals, enemies and competitors. No other match is given as much importance to as derbies. These are more than just matches, these are matters where the pride of the club and the fans is at stake, and it is an all-out war between both the clubs with the winner earning the bragging rights over their rivals.
The same kind of rivalry exists in the Indian football scene. The most intense derbies in Indian football are:
1. Maha Derby.
Teams: Pune F.C., Mumbai F.C.
A match between two major football clubs of Maharashtra, the Maha derby is one of the most famous derbies in India. The first Maha Derby was contested in 2009, but the rivalry began early in 2007 when the two clubs were created. Since then there have been twelve competitive meetings of the two teams, five of which were won by Pune F.C. and two by Mumbai F.C. The rest five matches went to a draw. Subhash Singh of Pune F.C. is the leading goal scorer (3 goals) in the Maha Derbies.
2. Goa Derby. (A four-sided derby.)
Teams: SP Goa, Dempo S.C., Salgaocar F.C., Churchill Brothers S.C.
The four clubs from Goa have faced each other for a combined 126 times. Among the four teams, Dempo S.C. has won maximum number of times, winning 15 times against SP Goa, 11 times against Salgaocar and 12 times against Churchill brothers. Ranti Martins (14) of Dempo S.C. and Ryuji Sueoka (14) of Dempo S.C. and Salgaocar F.C. are the leading goal scorers of the Goa Derby. Apart from Salgaocar F.C., Ogba Kalu Nnanna has played for all the teams of the Goa Derby.
3. Kolkata Derby.
Teams: Mohun Bagan, East Bengal
The most famous derby in India, the Kolkata Derby is also featured in FIFA’s classic derby list. Mohun Bagan, one of Asia’s oldest clubs, has an 89-year-old rivalry with East Bengal. Both the Kolkata superpowers have huge fan base across spreading all over the world. The rivalry between the two clubs is more than a sporting conflict. It is a cultural struggle between the natives (represented by Mohun Bagan) and the immigrant (represented by East Bengal).
The total number of derbies between these two clubs reaches an incredible 310 games. Among them, 117 matches were won by East Bengal and 107 matches went to a tie. Mohun Bagan only managed 86 victories against their city rivals. A Kolkata derby played in 1997 has the record attendance for any sport in India (a crowd of 131,000). Bhaichung Bhutia has scored the maximum number of goals in the Kolkata derby. Among his 19 goals, 13 are for East Bengal, while the other six are for Mohun Bagan.
Football is about pride, about the beauty of the game. The passion for the game and the diehard supporters make these derbies an incredible success.