4 of the Region’s Toughest Football Rivalries

The Middle East’s very own El Classico

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If football culture is usually associated with England’s infamous wave of hooligans from the 1990s, the Arab World has also proved to be a region that lives and breathes for the people’s sport with some rivalries that could compete with some of the world’s most legendary of fixtures.

Bringing the best or sometimes the worst out of us, we’ve listed the Middle East and North Africa’s most compelling strifes from Morocco all the way to Saudi Arabia.

Raja vs Wydad

Sparking debates before, during and even after the game, the Casablanca classico is known for being one of the most vibrant in the country and on the African continent. Recognised for the grand-scale tifos carried by the die-hard supporters, the two teams have been fiercely challenging each other for decades and still can’t settle the score to figure out which one of them should be crowned as kings of Casablanca.

Esperance vs Club African

The first encounter between the two Tunis clubs goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, in 1924 to be precise, and has anchored itself in the hearts of the capital’s fans ever since. Dubbed as “the neighbours meeting”, the two clubs share a long history in battling against one another and has become a staple fixture to not miss in the mediterranean country’s football scene.

The two stripped teams go head to head each season to try and sit comfortably on Tunis’ throne. Given the excitement it has been providing everyone with, the battle between both clubs is a must-watch in our books.

Al Ahly vs Zamalek 

Arguably two of the most successful and decorated clubs on the continent, the encounters between Al Ahly and Zamalek are usually considered as the highlight of the season. Labelled by the Confederation of African Football as the 1st and 2nd African clubs of the 20th century, the annual meetings between the two sides put the whole city of Cairo on pause for the time of a game as the outcome can spark some tensions and even riots depending on the events throughout the 90 minutes.

Al Hilal vs Al Ittihad

Hailing from the kingdom’s two main cities, namely Riyadh and Jeddah, Al Hilal and Al Ittihad meet annually in the Saudi Premier League to try and snatch the title of the country’s most successful club. Having met over 150 times since 1960, year of their first encounter, the capital’s club of Al Hilal has taken the three points back home 60 times in a fixture that is now labelled as the Saudi Classico.

As the league is gaining more and more prominence with investors willing to splash the cash to attract more top-flight players, the rivalry between both clubs  is only expected to get tougher and tougher in the next couple of years and that’s for our pleasure only.

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