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Traveling the world is a awesome, traveling the world and watching football (soccer to you yanks) is even better. I’m a massive football fan and whether it’s pretending to be a scout at a Kenyan premier league game (long story) or watching Spain win the World Cup in the stadium in South Africa, I always have an eye out for my next footy experience. For all footy-loving travelers, these 5 games should be on your list too:


Superclásico, Buenos Aries, Argentina: Boca Juniors vs River Plate

Like all intense rivalries this transcends merely football. The hatred stems from more of a socio-economic tension where River Plate are seen as the rich boys from the nice side of the city and Boca, Mardonna’s team, are the working class heroes. The stadiums literally wobble when the crowd get going, especially at Boca’s stadium. This is my number one football bucket list event.

Superclasico Argentina 

The Istanbul Derby, Istanbul, Turkey: Galatasary vrs Fenerbahce:

Possibly the fiercest derby of all them all. These two giants split the city with Galatasary being on the European side and Fenerbahce on the Asian side. Turkish fans are known for being, ahem, ‘passionate’ and on game day expect flares, missiles and the odd spot of violence. If your backpacking, don’t pick a side and don’t wear one of the shirts. Stay neutral and soak it up.

Galatasary Fenerbahce derby 

The Old Firm Derby, Edinburgh, Scotland:  Rangers vrs Celtic

One of the oldest derbies in the world, this one is particular explosive thanks to the religious connotations each side carries with Celtic a famous Catholic team and Rangers a famous Protestant side. It was only in the last 15 years or so that players of opposing religions would even sign for the other side! Don’t wear anything blue or green on this day guys!

Old firm Derby rangers celtic scotland

El Classico, Madrid, Spain – Real Madrid vrs Barcelona

Perhaps the two most famous teams in the world play in El Classico each season to a backdrop of political confrontations. Not really a derby as one is in Madrid and the other in Barcelona, this game is often the most watched match on the planet each season. It’s intensified due to the fact that each side has opposing political positions (Spanish and Catalan nationalism) so that cranks the atmosphere up another notch. 

El Classico Pigs head
Luis Figo transferred between the two teams, on his first appearance in the El Classico, someone threw a pig’s head at him!

The Fla-Flu, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil: Flamengo vrs Fluminese

Each derby is played at unofficially the biggest football stadium in the world, the iconic Maracana, where it’s record attendance was said to be 200, 000!! Flares and banners are rife, as unfortunately is violence but it’s a football spectacle, that’s for sure.

Fla-Flu derby

These are all on my bucket list, even if it takes me a lifetime I’ll see all these games for sure! Happy travels!

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17 thoughts on “5 Best Football Matches to Watch Around the World

  1. Pingback: Barcelona by Night | One Step 4Ward
  2. Naaah! you should actually see Palmeiras x Corinthians in Brazil 😛 That’s actually the best one 🙂

  3. The Classic – Manchester United vs. Liverpool at Anfield should be on all your lists. The atmosphere is just extraordinary. The unique Kop just gives it a diff feeling.
    Ruhr derby – Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04 at the Westfalenstadion is the match you want to see in Germany.

  4. You should check Gremio X Internacional, known as GRENAL, from Porto Alegre.
    For sure, the most exciting derby in Brasil!

  5. I have been to the “old firm” in Glasgow now three times and nothing will ever match up to the excitement and atmosphere for me as an Irish-man roaring Celtic Symphony on the top of my lungs in a stadium where the raw tension can be felt.

  6. Celtic and rangers is not based in Edinburgh, it’s Glasgow. Also, Celtic have never been a Catholic club only and have always have Protestants in the team (Jock Stein, Kenny Dalglish, Henrik Larsson but to name a few)

  7. the two largest spectator sports football and nascar? 200,000 people is a large showing for on sports event. crazy stuff.

  8. Hey! You have described very well in your article, I am very thankful to you specially about the iconic Maracana, the biggest football stadium in the world. I didn’t know before.

  9. Brazilians are very very passionate about football. My Brazilian friends say it’s like a “religion” to them. They very much committed to the club they support! It’s gonna be really interesting to watch the 2014 World Cup there! Bring it on! and SEE YOU!!! 🙂

  10. Great list, Johnny. I did not know Istanbul was split like that. Have you been to Istanbul yet?

    My top 5 that I WILL see:

    Manchester United v. Liverpool at Anfield
    Dynamo Zagreb v. Hadjuk Split (Croatian chics man! LOL)
    AC Milan v. Inter Milan. Two clubs sharing the same home and in recent years, similar fortunes.
    Brazil v. Argentina in the Maracana
    Mexico v. U.S. in Los Angeles or Mexico City

    any country against Germany that Germany blitzkrieged through during WWII

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