November 29, 2021

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The Best Head to Head Battles in Football



Cristiano Ronaldo holding a football ball: Cristiano Ronaldo & Lionel Messi have been rivals for over 10 years | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images


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Cristiano Ronaldo & Lionel Messi have been rivals for over 10 years | PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Rivalries and battles makes elite football what it is, adding further intrigue and anticipation.

Some players famously don’t get on, while others simply bring the best out of each other whenever they go head to head.

Here’s a look at seven of the best head to head battles in football.

7. Robert Lewandowski vs Mats Hummels



Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski are posing for a picture: Hummels & Lewandowski have been teammates and opponents | TF-Images/Getty Images


© TF-Images/Getty Images
Hummels & Lewandowski have been teammates and opponents | TF-Images/Getty Images

Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels have lined up as both teammates and opponents on countless occasions, but now again sit on opposite sides of Der Klassiker between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

The pair know each other very well indeed and regularly come into contact. But there were rumours of a training spat while both were at Bayern in 2018.

Lewandowski later said it was ‘sad’ that Hummels didn’t fight for his place at Bayern in 2019 and chose to return to Dortmund instead.

6. Sergio Aguero vs David Luiz



Sergio Aguero holding a football ball: Aguero & Luiz have been battling in the Premier League since 2012 | Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images


© Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images
Aguero & Luiz have been battling in the Premier League since 2012 | Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

A healthy competitive rivalry that sometimes tips over into nasty territory is the best way of describing the battles between Premier League stars Sergio Aguero and David Luiz.

The South American pair have brought the best and worst out of each other, with Aguero in particular guilty of dangerous tackles on Luiz on more than one occasion.

With Luiz now at Arsenal and over eight years after they first went head to head in England, they continue to line up on opposite sides for hotly anticipated battles.

5. Mohamed Salah vs Sergio Ramos



a group of men playing a game of football: Ramos and Salah clashed in 2018 | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images


© Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
Ramos and Salah clashed in 2018 | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

The world is waiting for the next time Liverpool face Real Madrid, with the battle between Mohamed Salah and Sergio Ramos set to be a headline event when it happens.

The clubs haven’t met since a challenge from Ramos resulted in Salah dislocating his shoulder in the first half of the 2018 Champions League final.

Salah and Liverpool are yet to take revenge for that moment.

4. Jamie Carragher vs Gary Neville



a man talking on a cell phone: Carragher & Neville were passionate about Liverpool & Man Utd respectively | Michael Regan/Getty Images


© Michael Regan/Getty Images
Carragher & Neville were passionate about Liverpool & Man Utd respectively | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville were one-club men to the very end, representing Liverpool and Manchester United respectively quite like no one else.

Their clubs were fierce rivals, which meant they were too, striving for every inch in order to win and maintain bragging rights until the next time they met on the pitch.

In retirement, their on-field rivalry has turned into the best double act in football broadcasting.

3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Giorgio Chiellini



Giorgio Chiellini, Zlatan Ibrahimovic are posing for a picture: Ibrahimovic & Chiellini are back to battling in Serie A | Claudio Villa/Getty Images


© Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Ibrahimovic & Chiellini are back to battling in Serie A | Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Giorgio Chiellini were once teammates at Juventus, but the pair have been opposite of sides of two heated Serie A rivalries since.

Despite their advancing years, they are now back to battling once more and competing head to head following the Swede’s return to Italy with AC Milan in 2020.

Chiellini has subjected Ibrahimovic to rough treatment and heavy tackles on the pitch, while Zlatan has also taken revenge and said he once ‘dragged him like a disobedient dog’.

2. Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira



a baseball player holding a football ball: Keane & Vieira epitomised the Man Utd/Arsenal rivalry | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images


© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Keane & Vieira epitomised the Man Utd/Arsenal rivalry | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira clashed on many occasions over the years in the battle for Premier League supremacy between Manchester United and Arsenal.

One particularly fierce encounter came in 2005 when the pair erupted in the tunnel before a game when Keane suspected Vieira of trying to intimidate his teammates.

Their iconic rivalry and midfield battles were fuelled by competitive drive, but also a mutual respect, understanding that the other was at the top of their game.

1. Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo



a man standing in front of a crowd of people watching a football game: Messi & Ronaldo are battling to be remembered as the greatest of all time | Power Sport Images/Getty Images


© Power Sport Images/Getty Images
Messi & Ronaldo are battling to be remembered as the greatest of all time | Power Sport Images/Getty Images

They are never directly opposed on the pitch, but Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have the single best competitive rivalry in the history of football.

Both players have genuine reason to be considered the greatest of all time and have spurred each other on to achieve more and more…and more for over a decade.

Neither would have done anything like they have were it not for the other pushing them to new levels as they constantly battle to outdo their rival.

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