10 Biggest World Cup Rivalries In International Football

The World Cup is finally here. There’s nothing like watching top-notch matches in the biggest sports event in the world. What are you expecting for the World Cup this year? Be it the appearance of big names in worldwide football, the result of France - the current World Cup championship, or the performance of young players.
On top of that, many football viewers are interested in matches between rival teams. As football is a competing sport, it sometimes causes conflict between players. And as every team wants to be the best, it's hard to “love” the other who is at the same level and bound to surpass them. On top of that, the World Cup is an international battle in which various nations participate, then some political elements trigger the heated rivalry between teams.
In this post, we’ve curated 10 massive World Cup rivalries in international football. This list includes Spain - Portugal, the US - Mexico, and Korea - Japan. Scroll down to check them out.

#1 Spain - Portugal

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Spain and Portugal's rivalry is entirely political, and this is what gave rise to their on-field rivalry. Portugal and Spain have always been on separate teams throughout the majority of the Wars, which is what sparked the feud between them in the first place.
However, in pure football terms, they have had quite a few huge clashes on big stages in the last two decades, which has only added to their rivalry. Spain defeated Portugal in both the World Cup in 2010 and the Euro 2012, both of which they won.
They recently met in the 2018 World Cup, as they were put in the same group. Cristiano Ronaldo's amazing hat trick helped the match result in a 3-3 draw. So, anytime these two teams meet, you can expect an epic battle.

#2 Italy - France

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Over the years, France and Italy have played each other in a remarkable number of high-profile and important matches. Games at 1938, 1978, 1986, and 1998 World Cups all had varying degrees of drama. The French, who would later win the entire tournament, won the latter, for instance, which was decided on penalties.
Then there are the two championship matches from Euro 2000 and the 2006 World Cup, both of which saw one team prevail for each after being cruelly and dramatically decided. The second of those had the addition of Zinedine Zidane's farewell to spice it up a bit.
Two years later, Gigi Buffon said, "Beating France was the best way to apologize to our supporters." after Italy overcame a shaky start in the European Championship to defeat France 2-0.

#3 Japan - South Korea

Source: Kyodo News

In the 1950s, just after Japan's colonization of South Korea ended, there was a ferocious sporting rivalry between these two nations. A World Cup qualifier between the two nations was not allowed to take place in Seoul, thanks to Korean President Rhee Syngman.
Then he said that it could be beneficial for his team to stay away from home if they lose in Tokyo. Although there is still a hostile environment when the two nations face off against one another, relations between the two have warmed over the years to the point where they were happy to co-host the 2002 World Cup.

#4 Iran - Saudi Arabia

Source: Reuters

There isn't much love lost between these two nations because they have a lengthy history of serving as the major powers in West Asia. This competition is based on the fact that Saudi Arabia and Iran both have majorities of Shia and Sunni Muslims, respectively.
This matchup has a lengthy history of game playing. The Iranian football squad experienced an eight-hour detention at a Saudi airport. More recently, Saudi Arabia insisted that the game be moved to a safer location outside of Iran since they would not play there because it was "too risky." All other nations, however, had participated in sporting events in Iran without incident.
The two teams played several incredible games and remained competitive over the years. Although Iran is currently thought to be the superior team, Saudi Arabia has recently enjoyed an advantage in head-to-head matches.

#5 Germany - Netherlands

Source: Fifa

Many people in England believe that Germany's main rivalry is with them, however, the German's actual foe is the Dutch. This huge rivalry may be rooted in greater social issues, but it has also played out on the field.
For example, at the 1990 World Cup, the two countries notably battled, with Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Voller exchanging both niceties and phlegm.
The main game between the two will always be the 1974 World Cup final when West Germany defeated the Netherlands. The Dutch went into the game not simply wanting to win, but also to humiliate their opponents. "It was a perfect example of Dutch arrogance," Dutch international Johnny Rep remarked.

#6 Croatia - Serbia

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Between 1918 and 1991, both nations were part of Yugoslavia. The Croatian War of Independence began in 1991, and Croatia was established in 1995. Domestic club football is where these nations' football rivalries began.
Red Star Belgrade and Dinamo Zagreb were two of the top teams in Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A riot that broke out during a game between these teams in May 1990 is widely regarded as the start of the war.
A police officer who had attacked a Zagreb supporter was karate-kicked by Zvonimir Boban, who later played for AC Milan. He evolved into the emblem of Croatian resistance. Despite the absence of violence in recent matches between Croatia and Serbia, this is not a game that fans should attend.
Both nations are regarded as being secure tourist destinations when they are not engaged in football competitions. Particularly in recent years, Croatia has emerged as one of Europe's top tourist attractions.

#7 Mexico - United States

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Mexico and the United States of America are neighbors in North America. As we all know, one of the oldest football-playing countries in the world is Mexico. Contrarily, while seeing exponential growth in the last few decades in terms of business and development, the USA has not historically been very successful in football, demonstrating once again that you cannot simply invest money and play good football.
Returning to the topic at hand, the rivalry between these two countries began in 1934 when they faced off in a World Cup Qualifying match. The USA prevailed 4-2 and advanced to the World Cups. They struggled against Mexico for the following 40 years, though!

#8 England - Scotland

Source: Fansided

One of the oldest rivalries in football history is between England and Scotland. Their first encounter took place in Glasgow in 1872. Since these two countries have a lengthy history of conflict, antagonism between them is natural, even outside of football matches.
An annual contest between England and Scotland was played between 1872 and 1989, and it was quite the event. Unfortunately, Scotland's brilliance as a nation and a football squad faded with time, and the rivalry has now subsided. However, whenever they play (like in Euro 2021), we see a filled stadium with supporters from both teams cheering loudly.

#9 Brazil - Argentina

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There’s a good reason for this heated rivalry: Argentina and Brazil are historically two of the giants not only of South America but world football. Both of them have won 22 Copa America championships and seven World Cups collectively.
Besides, there is the ongoing, smoldering disagreement between Pele and Diego Maradona over who is the best of all time, which is, to be honest, rather entertaining. It is a microcosm of their countries' battle.

#10 Honduras - El Salvador

Source: centerlinesoccer

Political war heating the football rivalry seems to be the theme of this list, yet a terrible battle between the nations began in 1969 as a result of a series of three World Cup qualifiers between these two sides. The "Soccer War" or the "100 Hour War," as it was often called, claimed the lives of about 6,000 people.In the background of the game, there were growing conflicts between the two nations over commerce, social changes, and disputed borders. Newspapers began using World Cup qualifying matches to stir up nationalism in both countries. A woman shot herself in the heart out of desperation after El Salvador lost the opening game. She had a live television funeral.
The Honduran flag was substituted with a frayed piece of cloth for the national anthems during the rematch, which was played in El Salvador. Honduras supporters were harassed, and the team's survival was more important than winning games. Fortunately, El Salvador won the match, forcing a championship game. It was staged in impartial Mexico City for security reasons.
The two nations had cut off diplomatic ties before the game, and soon the war broke out. After El Salvador invaded, more than 100,000 people fled. A peace treaty wasn't signed for another 11 years. Although relations are better now, for people of a certain age, this is still the most important game for both teams.
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