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When most people think about the biggest rivalries in the world of football they're drawn to clashes like the El Clasico, which is Barcelona vs Real Madrid, Liverpool vs Manchester United and, slightly removed from the mainstream, the South American clashes between Boca Juniors and River Plate aka the Superclasico. Australia barely gets a look in at all. Should it though? We think so and here we look at the biggest A-League rivalries to prove our point.
The A-League’s best rivalries
Newcastle Jets vs Central Coastal Mariners
First, up in our list of A-League rivalries is the rivalry between the Newcastle Jets and Coastal Mariners is more commonly dubbed as the F-3 Derby; the reason for this is because that's what the road that separates the two clubs is called – at least it was named that back when the grudge matches originally started to take place. When was that we hear you ask? The fixture first took place in 2005 and was instantly billed as a derby match owing to the relatively close proximity of the two cities combined with the fact there were no other teams in the league that could be dressed up in such a way.
Now, you might ask whether a rivalry can simply be ignited like that. The answer would be yes. At least it was in this case as the game played out full of drama and passion. The match itself ended goalless with the Central Coast Mariners winning courtesy of a penalty shootout; the real talking point was Nik Mrdja's leg-breaking tackle on Newcastle man Andrew Durante.
Since that inaugural meeting, the sides have locked horns on 54 other occasions. Their battle to be named the best is tied ridiculously tightly with both teams having won 18 matches and with a total of 65 goals each scored.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Sydney FC
You'll get no prizes for guessing what this derby match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC is nicknamed; the Sydney Derby, of course. Why? Well, it's very simple, the two teams dominate the footballing landscape of Sydney. Back in 2005, when the Jets vs the Mariners first took place, games of this nature didn't exist due to the ruling of team creation in the A-League, which prevented cities from having more than one team. If you've ever watched a Sydney derby, you'll understand why fans are glad that rule was changed because these head to heads give us one of the best A-League rivalries there is.
Sydney FC have been around since the start of the A-League but Western Sydney Wanderers weren't formed until 2012. There was already a fair bit of animosity towards Sydney FC after they had profited from the one team, one city policy allowing them to hoover up al the local talent unchallenged. As soon as the Wanderers came along the rivalry was born. The first Sydney showpiece was something fans were gagging for and not just because legendary attacker Alessandro Del Piero would be playing; he did, however, net the only goal of the game.
Every match since then has been full of blood, sweat and tears. The two teams have played each other competitively 28 times with half of those goals taking place in front of an official sell-out crowd. Sydney FC has won 13 and drawn eight meaning they've lost just seven; they have a significant difference on the cumulative goal tally too.
Adelaide vs Melbourne Victory
The rivalry between Adelaide vs Melbourne is a strange one. Well, it is by name anyway. It is referred to as the Original Derby, which is rather odd given it wasn't the first of all the A-League rivalries to be born. That said, it is definitely up there with the best A-league rivalries as it often pits two juggernauts of teams against one another. The duo has been playing each other since back in 2005 but the first few years were just your standard matches; things began to heat up as the two clubs battled it out for top honours.
The first heavy shot was landed by Melbourne Victory as they beat Adelaide to the A-League crown in 2007; it wasn't just a defeat for Adelaide though but an utter humiliation as Victory hit them for six. It remains the largest margin of victory in the Original Derby matchups. Even with that in mind, the game wasn't considered one of the A-League rivalries at that time. That only came a couple of years later when Victory and Adelaide were again fighting for the title. The margin wasn't as humbling this time round but, nonetheless, Melbourne left victorious. A ‘proper' rivalry was born.
All told, the two clubs have faced each other a total of 62 times going all the way back to their first meeting in 2005. It's Melbourne Victory that holds the edge in result terms having won 27 compared to the 22 Adelaide can boast.
Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC
Yep, we close our rundown of the best A-League rivalries with two teams we've already touched on but this time they're facing each other; it's Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC, which is otherwise known as the Big Blue derby. Why the Big Blue? Well, in part it's the fact it means to fight and, also, it's the colour both teams play in. It's what happens on the grass that grabs our attention though.
Not only are the two clubs based in Australia's two biggest cities but the teams are highly successful and come well supported. You could date the rivalry back well over a century if you wished albeit it wouldn't be under the names the clubs use today; those meetings only began in 2005 as Victory and Sydney FC faced off in the opening weekend of the A-League calendar. Nowadays the match carries spice owing to the fact that they're the two most decorated clubs in the country with Sydney leading the way with four Premiership crowns to their name.
As the derby goes, the two have met 56 times with Victory winning just 16 compared to Sydney FC's 23.
There you have it the best A-league rivalries. Will they ever get the global attention they deserve?