5 Fiercest Rivalries in International Football Ahead of Brazil vs Argentina Showdown

5 Fiercest Rivalries in International Football Ahead of Brazil vs Argentina Showdown

Edwin Kiplagat
November 20, 2023 at 12:24 PM
  • Brazil face Argentina in a mouth-watering 2026 World Cup qualifier
  • It is arguably the biggest rivalry in international football
  • Sports Brief looks at some of the biggest rivalries in international football

International football elicits tensions among fans when rivals square off.

In the last century, we have witnessed nations collide on the biggest stage, creating raw hostility and rivalry among fans.

Brazil host Argentina this week in a 2026 World Cup qualifier clash, and this match might be the biggest rivalry in international football.

Brazil vs Argentina, USA, Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, England, 2026 World Cup, Egypt, Algeria
Brazil vs Argentina is probably the biggest rivalry in international football. Photos by Mauro Pimentel and John Dorton/USSF.
Source: Getty Images

International football gets little attention until there's a major competition. However, when rival nations meet in a friendly, the intensity and hostility are there to see.

Brazil and Argentina have met many times in the last century, and the fixture is filled with iconic memories. Sports Brief looks at the 5 biggest rivalries in international football.

Honourable mentions: Japan vs South Korea, Croatia vs Serbia, Serbia vs Albania, Denmark vs Sweden, Chile vs Peru, France vs Italy.

Biggest rivalries in international football

5. Germany vs Netherlands

This rivalry has gone quiet in the last few years, but these two European giants always went at it when they met. Most of the time, they clashed on the biggest stages. The most memorable meeting between these two was during the 1974 World Cup final, which West Germany won.

The iconic Johan Cruyff led the Dutch team, who scored in the first few minutes, but the Germans smothered their hot start. The two teams also famously clashed at the 1990 World Cup. Rudi Voller and Frank Rijkaard did not like each other during the match.

Rudi Voller, Frank Rijkaard, Germany, Netherlands, 1990 World Cup
Frank Rijkaard of the Netherlands looks towards West Germany striker Rudi Voller during the infamous spitting incident. Photo by David Cannon/Allsport.
Source: Getty Images

4. Egypt vs Algeria

These two sides are continental giants, having won the Africa Cup of Nations multiple times. When they meet, authorities always prepare tens of thousands of police officers to prevent escalation. There have been so many instances of violence throughout the history of this fixture.

For instance, in 1989, all hell broke loose when Algeria and Egypt met for a World Cup place. Every time they meet, the stakes are always high, per the Guardian.

Egypt, Algeria, Mohamed Salah, Africa Cup of Nations, 2010 World Cup
Tensions flare during the FIFA 2010 World Cup qualifying match between Egypt and Algeria on November 14, 2009, in Cairo, Egypt. Photo by Clive Mason.
Source: Getty Images

3. England vs Scotland

This is the oldest international fixture, and they first met in 1872, a match which ended 0-0 in Glasgow, per Four Four Two. They have met a few times, and fans of these two sides have never hidden their disdain for one another.

England, of course, won the 1966 World Cup but are yet to lift the trophy since then. Now, they are one of the best teams in the world and are always favourites in international and continental competitions.

Scotland, on the other hand, have not beaten England this century and struggles to qualify for major competitions.

2. USA vs Mexico

These two neighbours in North America are always at each other's throats whenever they meet. USA's growth has put them on par with Mexico, who dominated this fixture early on. In the first 24 meetings, the USA won just one game. Since 2000, the USA have become a tough nut to crack.

The Americans beat Mexico 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup Round of 16 to send them home.

1. Brazil vs Argentina

No international fixture comes close to this one. They have won a combined eight World Cups between them and are always ranked among the top teams in the world. The great thing about this rivalry is they are neighbours and construct world-class teams.

The most memorable meeting between these came in the 1990 World Cup, in which Argentina won 1-0 thanks to a goal by the flaxen-haired Claudio Caniggia. However, Brazil said their water had been spiked with tranquillizers, a claim Diego Maradona appeared to confirm a few years later, per ESPN.

The only shame is we have never gotten a Brazil vs Argentina in a World Cup final.

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Brazil vs Argentina preview

Sports Brief earlier previewed the highly anticipated Brazil vs Argentina 2026 World Cup qualifier clash set to be hosted at the famous Maracana Stadium.

These two sides have met over 100 times and won World Cups and Copa Americas. Both sides lost their last matches, but Argentina still topped the CONMEBOL standings after five games.

Brazil will be without Neymar and Vinicius Junior, but Albiceleste have eight-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.
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