In football there are few things more boring than a friendly. Or what to watch a whole game on TV when we already know the result … unless it is to recreate ourselves with a crushing victory against the great rival. Rivalry is one of the mainstays of football.
In British football, the rivalry of rivalries occurs in one of the most boring leagues on the planet: the Scottish. The derbies between Celtic and Glasgow Rangers are something from another world. In English football, we may agree that the crunchiest rivalry is between Manchester United and Liverpool, a re-enactment of historical quarrels: Manchester spent a fortune to build a canal in the 19th century to access the Sea. from Ireland and not pay the abusive fees of the port of Liverpool.
In London, Arsenal and Tottenham dispute the supremacy not of the British capital but of North London. Spurs deny the biggest: Arsenal, they say, was born south of the Thames and is not a North London team. Millwall and West Ham don’t give a damn about the river: they vie for supremacy in the East of the capital.
- Goodbye to Jimmy Greaves, the Torpedo Müller of the best England
- The spotlights on Cristiano, the drama on a certain Antonio
There are rivalries between cities, of course. Few more fierce than the one between Newcastle and Sunderland in the North of England. Or the one that separates Cardiff and Swansea for the supremacy in Wales, very similar to that of Portsmouth and Southampton on the south coast. Or Ipswich Town-Norwich City on the East Coast, Oxford United-Swindon Town more in the center or that of two historic struggles today: Derby County and Nottingham Forest.
For many, there is no more genuine rivalry than that of the derbies, that match between two teams from the same city. Between City and United in Manchester. Everton-Liverpool. The Villa-Birmingham. United and Wednesday in Sheffield. Or Dundee FC and Dundee United.
But in these years of new normalities we are also seeing the birth of new rivalries. Perhaps the most attractive is the one that faces Chelsea and Manchester City. Two historically second-rate clubs that by art of birlibirloque have become masters of the Premier. It is a rivalry that has several readings. The broad reading is that of two new ways to become a world power in soccer: through the oligarchs or through the petrodollars. An oligarch is a person who has absolute power. In football there is no better example than Roman Abramovich, a nobody who accumulated such a fortune in the transition from the former Soviet Union to capitalism that in 2003 he bought Chelsea and with his almost infinite fortune has managed to make him European champion.
Manchester City is the perfect example of a club-state: a mediocre club raised to altars on petrodollars. But there are two types of club-state: those with good taste (City has used the money to build a harmonious team) and those with bad taste (PSG has spent a fortune buying the best soloists of the moment, hardly thinking about the orchestra). On Tuesday, in a Champions League match (in the almost never transcendental group stage) these two club-state models finally face each other.
There is another way to look at the new rivalry between City and Chelsea: the battle between their two coaches, Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel. Since his arrival at Chelsea in January, Tuchel had eaten Guardiola’s morale, whom he eliminated from the English Cup, beat in the league in the opposite half and, above all, swept against the odds in the Champions League final. On Saturday the opposite happened. It was Pep who swept Tuchel at Stamford Bridge (0-1).