Italian top-flight teams are followed by some of the most passionate fans in the world. Every Serie A game is hotly contested, but some are worth more than three points to the fans in attendance. These are games steeped in history and local rivalry, and they are some of the most anticipated matchups in world football. Scoring a hattrick or last-minute winner in a Serie A rivalry game (which streams live on DIRECTV STREAM in the US and Sky Sports in the UK) can turn an obscure player into a local hero, and the outcome of these matches often decide which team wins the Scudetto and lifts the Coppa Campioni d’Italia.
This is the Serie A equivalent of Manchester United vs. Liverpool or Real Madrid vs. Barcelona. It is a contest between the two most successful clubs in Italian football, and the two sets of fans circle this matchup as soon as the fixture list is released. Emotions always run high when these two teams meet, and sometimes things reach a boil before a ball is even kicked. In 2009, the Inter team bus was pelted with eggs when it arrived at the Stadio Delle Alpi.
The Derby d’Italia has decided the Serie A title many times. Inter fans were furious in 1998 when Ronaldo was denied a penalty after being brought down by a cynical challenge when through on goal, and their howls of disapproval turned to screams of fury when Juventus were awarded a spot kick a short time later. The game sparked a national outcry, and even members of the Italian parliament discussed the referee’s performance.
This derby match is named after a statue of the Virgin Mary, and it is known for class rivalry. Inter Milan have traditionally been followed by the city’s wealthy and middle class, while their crosstown rivals AC Milan have blue-collar roots. When AC Milan was purchased by Italy’s richest man and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the rivalry became political as well as economic.
The Milan rivalry also has a racial element that sometimes spills into the stands. AC Milan was founded by former Inter executives who left the club because of its refusal to sign foreign players, and the Derby Della Madonnina was born. Many experts think the greatest of these derbies was played in November 1949. AC Milan were three goals ahead after only 20 minutes, but Inter stormed back to take the lead in the second half. With the game tied at five goals each and just minutes to play, Amedeo Amadei broke through the AC Milan defense, poked home the winner and won the game for Inter.
Not all Serie A rivalries feature teams that are considered perennial winners. AS Roma and SS Lazio have lifted the Coppa Campioni d’Italia a combined five times, but they have played some of the most famous games in Italian football history. Rome grinds to a halt when these two teams face each other, and many of the match goers are ultras who like to cause disruptions when things do not go their way. There is always a strong police presence at the Derby Della Capitale, and they are not afraid to call the match off to maintain public order.
The animosity between the two sets of fans was on display for all to see following Lazio’s victory over Roma in the 2013 Coppa Italia Final. Instead of celebrating their win with style and restraint, the Lazio fans found a mural depicting Francesco Totti and sprayed black paint over the Roma legend’s face.
Genoa were once a major force in Italian football. The Genoa Cricket and Football Club won nine titles between 1898 and 1924, which rankled members of Italy’s nationalist government. The government was upset because Genoa had British heritage and lacked a fierce local rival. Politicians put pressure on Sampier and Andrea Doria to become stronger and challenge Genoa, so the two clubs merged to form Sampdoria.
The Genoa derby is named after a local lighthouse, and it is widely considered one of the friendliest rivalries in football. Genoa fans call Sampdoria cyclists because of their striped shirts, and Sampdoria supporters respond by calling the griffin on the Genoa badge a turkey. The two teams played one of their biggest games in November 1990. Sampdoria entered the contest unbeaten and top of the table, but Genoa left the field victorious. The defeat did not stop Sampdoria from winning the Scudetto, but it put an end to more than a decade of Genevese derby dominance.
The Derby of the Sun was once a fixture that football fans everywhere looked forward to. During the 1980s, some of the game’s greatest ever players lined up for either Roma or Napoli. After barely avoiding relegation at the end of the 1983-84 Serie A season, Napoli shocked the world by signing Diego Maradona. No southern team had ever won the Italian league when Maradona put pen to paper, but all of that changed in 1987 when the Argentine legend lifted the Coppa Campioni d’Italia.
That is widely considered one of the greatest seasons any player has ever had, but Maradona had his hands full when he played Roma. I Giallorossi had Agostino Di Bartolomei controlling midfield and Roberto Pruzzo leading the line, which was one of the best attacks in Europe.