SUPERCLASICO: Best rivalry? Let's ask

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
11:56
PM PT

Barca vs RealLluis Gene/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry is one of many in the world that rank at the top of the list.


CARSON -- The Galaxy and Chivas USA renew their SuperClasico rivalry Saturday night at Home Depot Center, so what better time to weigh in on the best rivalries in soccer -- in MLS and around the world.

We asked a handful of players and coaches with both teams their thoughts on what matchups are the real Clasicos. Here's what they said.

  • BEST WORLD RIVALRY
There are so many classic derbies in world soccer, from Boca Juniors-River Plate (Argentina) to Inter Milan-AC Milan and Lazio-Roma (Italy), Tottenham-Arsenal and Liverpool-Everton (England) to Rangers-Celtic (Scotland), Real Madrid-Barcelona (Spain) to Galatasaray-Fenerbahçe (Turkey), America-Guadalajara (Mexico) to Red Star-Partizan (Serbia). There, that scratches the surface.

What's the best?

Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy: “The Real Madrid-Barça match has been pretty special the past few years. You don't want it to get diluted, because they play each other 12 times a year. Now that Manchester City is having their way in the English Premier League, them with Manchester City is pretty special. And I always like watching Tim Howard and Everton play against Liverpool.”

Galaxy midfielder Juninho: Brazil-Argentina.”

Chivas forward Juan Pablo Angel: Boca-River.”

Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza: “There's so many out there, man. Barcelona-Real is a pretty good one, I think. I think that one's got to be the top one.”

Chivas defender Ante Jazic: Barça-Real.”

Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan: Barcelona-Madrid.”

Chivas defender James Riley: “Ooh, that's a tough one. I think Celtic-Rangers has the best history, and Boca-River Plate. I would go with Celtic-Rangers.”

Chivas midfielder Ryan Smith: Tottenham-Arsenal. What's special is that you cannot be an Arsenal supporter and step foot in Tottenham, and you can't be a Tottenham supporter and step foot in Arsenal. Obviously, with the shirt on. That's what's special about it.”

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena: “I think years ago people would say Boca and River, but for me today it has to be Real Madrid-Barcelona. That's for me -- everyone has their own opinion. It may grow to Manchester City-Man United, Inter and AC are good, but right now I think Ream Madrid and Barcelona, because you can argue those are the two best club teams in the world.”

Chivas head coach Robin Fraser: Real Madrid-Barça.”

Galaxy forward Robbie Keane: “I've played in a few. Tottenham-Arsenal, Celtic-Rangers. It's very hard, because I'm sure every league has its own rivalry. The ones I played in, Tottenham-Arsenal was crazy, obviously Celtic-Rangers was very crazy, probably for different reasons, you know?”

Chivas forward Casey Townsend: Real Madrid-Barcelona.”

Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee: Real Madrid-Barcelona.”

Chivas midfielder Peter Vagenas: “Oh, Christ, I don't know. I can't answer that. There are places where you're divided upon religion lines -- so those are pretty intense, right? Rangers-Celtic has got to be something else from what I hear.”

Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas: “It's Madrid and Barcelona, for sure.”

Chivas forward Cesar Romero: Barcelona-Real Madrid. That's pretty much the biggest one out there.”

  • BEST MLS RIVALRY
This one's easy, right? SuperClasico. But what about Sounders-Timbers or Red Bulls-D.C. or Rapids-RSL or Fire-Revs?

Jazic: The Clasico.”

Sarvas: “I think it's Chivas and L.A.

Vagenas: “I know the best rivalry in MLS is Galaxy-Chivas.”

Donovan: “Mmmm ... probably L.A.-Chivas.”

Smith: Everyone, for me. Because I wasn't raised here. It's new compared to the leagues in Europe, but everyone is my rival here. There's no one I value more as a rival than others.”

Keane: “Obviously, the Galaxy and Chivas.”

Riley: Seattle-Portland.”

DeLaGarza: “Wow. ... So many, man. The Clasico is obviously a good one. The California Clasico [Galaxy-San Jose], another West Coast clasico [Galaxy-Seattle], so many different ones. You've got D.C.-New York, us and D.C., us and Chivas. I don't know. I would say us and Chivas is good. San Jose is a good team this year, so it will be fun to go up there twice this season.”

Fraser: “That's hard to say if you're on the outside of that. I can think of the two I've been in -- Real Salt Lake-Colorado and Galaxy-Chivas. I think they're similar. As I've come to find out, there's genuine animosity between the teams, and I think that exists with Real Salt Lake-Colorado and I've come to realize that exists here.”

Arena: “For me, I would say D.C. United and New York.”

Townsend: Chivas-Galaxy.”

Angel: “I don't know. I mean, I've only seen Chivas-L.A. I haven't seen the other ones. I hear the one up north is great, with Seattle-Portland. Haven't seen it.”

Magee: Galaxy-Chivas.”

Romero: Every game should be important. Every game is a rivalry. Every game we have to look at as a clasico.”

Kennedy: “Obviously, the Clasico we have here is pretty special. I've had a chance to play in a few of them. Exciting games, great atmosphere. ... We need to make sure we're competitive in the Clasico.”

Juninho: We and Red Bulls.”

  • BEST RIVALRY YOU'VE BEEN INVESTED IN
Where does your heart lie? Was the best rivalry you played in from high school or college or youth soccer? Or was it as a fan, watching the team you love against its hated archrival? Or was it one of world's great derbies?

Juninho: “The Clasico is the big clasico, you know? For us it's Red Bull.”

Fraser: “Considering they won our first two MLS Cup finals, I look back at the late '90s, Galaxy-D.C. I don't think there was a lot of animosity in that, but there was a real sense of pride. The Galaxy team played with a ton of pride, and so did D.C. United, and it produced some great games and certainly some interesting results. There was a lot of talented players on both teams and a lot of talented and proud players who took those games extremely seriously. I remember being in some of those games, looking up at the clock about 20 minutes in and saying, 'This is a great game. We're playing well, they're playing well, it's intense, guys are getting into tackles -- to win this game is going to take something special.' And I remember having that sense a lot playing against D.C. United.”

Arena: USA-Mexico.” [Arena was U.S. national team coach from 1998 through 2006.]

Donovan: U.S.-Mexico.”

Townsend: Maryland-Virginia. [Townsend played at the University of Maryland.] A lot of hard feelings between the two teams. We don't like each other, and it's always a battle.”

Magee: “I'd have to say Galaxy-Chivas. If I say anything else, I'm gonna be in trouble. I had a pretty good one growing up in soccer, too, [Chicago youth powerhouses] Sockers-Magic. When I was around, that was big, but it can't compare with Galaxy-Chivas.”

Angel: “Without a doubt, I think any player who has been involved in those types of games will tell you with no hesitation that the biggest derby in the world is Boca-River. [Angel played for River Plate.] I've been in the stands for Celtic-Rangers, Milan-Inter, nothing compares with this.”

Riley: Seattle-Portland. [Riley was with the Sounders from 2009 through last year]. That's deep-rooted. That goes back to the 1970s. That's a special, special thing to be a part of, without a doubt. So I'm looking forward to this one and being part of this one as well.”

Romero: Tigres-Monterrey, in Monterrey. [Romero played in Tigres' system.] Big game.”

DeLaGarza: “I would say Chivas. Every game is so competitive. There's bad tackles because guys are ultra-competitive in these games. You always want to show up when you're playing Chivas. So that's probably the biggest one for me.”

Jazic: As a player, it was definitely in Croatia, Hajduk Split-Dinamo Zagreb. [Jazic played for Hajduk in 1999-2000.] Those games were crazy, with tear gas and all of that stuff.”

Smith: “When I was at Leicester City on loan from Arsenal, and we beat Tottenham in the F.A. Cup. That was really sweet.” [Smith, as a “Gooner,” has a healthy distaste for Tottenham.]

Sarvas: Saprissa-Alajuelense. [Saprissa came to the Galaxy from Alajuela, in Costa Rica.] It's half the country is Alajuela and half the country is Saprissa. It's like a national day -- everything stops and they close the stores, everybody stops to watch the game. It's a full stadium, and the passion, it's a little bit more than here.”

Vagenas: “Hmmm. You know, those early years in the Galaxy when San Jose got good, that period was pretty intense.”

Keane: “I think the Celtic-Rangers one was crazy. Not for football reasons.” [Celtic is the Catholic club in Glasgow. Rangers is Protestant. It's not pretty.]

Kennedy: “As a player, it definitely would have to be this one. I grew up here, and Chivas has been very loyal to me. I'm all for this one.”

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