Football, over time, has become one of the most competitive sports with increasing stakes and audiences. This has given rise to players trying even harder and harder to make a name for themselves. The level of play increases every day and everybody is thriving to be the best at the game.
This increasing competition has also fueled many rivalries along the way. The world of football has witnessed numerous vying among payers on and off the field. Here are the top 5 greatest player rivalries in football history.
5. Neymar and Zuniga
On the night of the Quarterfinal matchup of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, nobody would have anticipated the host nation to lose their ace. Zuniga didn’t just crush Neymar’s back in the collision with Brazil’s star player but he also crushed the hopes of all the Brazilian fans.
Neymar couldn’t play in the upcoming matches because of this severe injury and Brazil had to suffer a humiliating loss against Germany, who went on to win the World Cup. The Columbian wingback was not penalized for this and no actions were taken against this incident which just added oil to the fire.
This marked the start of the rivalry between the two players which even spread between the two teams and their fans as this incident marked the demise of Brazil fans’ World Cup hopes. It has always been a tension-packed atmosphere when these two collide since then.
4. Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira
In the early 2000s, the rivalry between the two giant clubs in the region, Arsenal and Manchester United was already taking shape. The two clubs clashed in the fiercest way and it was a spectacular sight to watch this battle.
What made this rivalry more interesting was the Highbury tunnel incident. This was a verbal spat between the two mainstays of their respective clubs. Vieira and Keane were seen having an argument before going to the field which created an atmosphere of tension between the two teams.
It had always been a bitter experience whenever these two came against each other. But things went for worse after this verbal dispute between the two. The two were seen exchanging strong physical tackles against each other throughout the match later on.
This rivalry also made way for the fans and the two teams to make it more personal and it eventually turned out to become one of the fiercest derbies whenever the two encountered each other.
3. Luis Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini
It would be no surprise to see Luis Suarez on this list. The list is actually void without his name being mentioned. His entire career was surrounded by multiple controversies along the way. He was engaged in multiple rivalries with numerous fellow footballers.
And the rivalry with Giorgio Chiellini of Italy is definitely one of the bitter ones. In the group stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Uruguay was destined to clash with Italy to fight for the entry to Knockout stages. Uruguay won the match but the relationship between the two nations and their players never was the same anymore.
Luis Suarez had a crash landing with Giorgio. And in this collision, he bit the defender on his shoulders. This was his third biting offense and hence he was penalized after the match and suspended from playing the coming nine matches.
But this penalty was not enough to please Giorgio and the Italian fans as they went on to hate Luis for his actions and this rivalry between the two parties was born.
2. Mauro Icardi and Maxi Lopez
This is one of the most exciting rivalries as this one involves a love triangle in it. Maxi Lopez was married to Wanda and had three kids with her. He also had a fellow friend Icardi who was close to him and they would always be spotted together.
But Lopez didn’t know that he was inviting a snake over for dinner all this time. Lopez’s wife, Wanda was spotted cheating on him with his fellow mate Icardi and soon married him leaving Lopez on his own.
This betrayal marked the start of the bitter relationship between the two players and it was never the same as before. Lopez was heartbroken after this betrayal and could not revive himself from this shock.
Lopez was soon seen retiring from the game while Icardi went on to carry on with his life and currently plays for the Ligue 1 club PSG.
1. Messi vs Ronaldo
One of the most iconic rivalries in football, Messi vs Ronaldo is always a bliss to watch. The two greatest players of all time when seen on the same field break all records for the amount of the audience.
Their rivalry is also one of the major reasons that El Clasico is what it is today. Both players are the best in the world and hence this rivalry is one of the eternal types. The football fans are divided into two sections on the basis of their answer to the question “Which is better? Messi or Ronaldo?”
The players also have an equal share of individual achievements to make the debate more intriguing. This is yet again a fanmade rivalry and purely based on statistics and club differences.
However, the notion of this rivalry as seen by the two players is quite different from how the fans perceive it to be. The players both respect each other and keep this rivalry healthy by always trying to give their best and deliver an excellent performance every time.