Flares. Fights. Chants. Controversies.
The beautiful game has seen it all and more. At club level, El Clásico, the match between Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona remains one of the most watched fixture in the world, but it pales in comparison to two national teams gnawing at each other's throats through the course of history.
Be it on geographical or historical grounds, these countries have hated each other for a variety of reasons and tensions have exploded on the football field in spectacular fashion.
Here we look at 5 of the most competitive and intense rivalries in contemporary international football, with a focus on the intensity of their clashes.
Like most rivalries in football, the France-Italy rivalry has its roots in geographical proximity. The two countries hail as European powerhouses with near identical size and considerable success in the international level. However, these two have experienced a rollercoaster ride throughout their footballing history,
Italy had never lost a fixture against France before 1982 and had gone on to win 3 World Cups in that time span. Post 1982, Les Blues has held the upper hand, eventually triumphing over their neighbours in the 1998 WC Quarters on penalties and going on to win the tournament.
The immensity of this fixture culminated in two consecutive finals, the 2000 Euros and the 2006 WC Final, which saw one win for each team under controversial and heated settings. In the former, Italian hearts were broken by a David Trezeguet golden goal, while in the latter, an iconic moment from a certain Zinedine Zidane, stole the ‘head’lines. The Azzurri would go on to win the WC on penalty shootouts.
Their last competitive fixture came in Euros 2008. Italy would win the game 2-0, claiming their first win over France in regulation time in over 30 years, while also knocking out their rivals from the tournament.