Liverpool are one of the biggest and most recognised football clubs in world football. The Merseysiders have won many domestic trophies over the years and are the most successful English team in Europe. Since the club’s inception back in 1892, the Reds have struck up several rivalries with both English and European teams. Here we run through the most notable and, although Everton fans might disagree, we start with Liverpool’s most bitter of rivals.
Although Everton are Liverpool’s local rivals, the Reds’ rivalry with Manchester United is arguably even greater and deeper-seated. The rivalry arguably started before the football teams existed, in the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, which saw the two cities go head-to-head in business and commerce.
The two sides are also close enough on the map for a geographical rivalry to exist. Liverpool and Manchester are around 30 miles apart, and the inter-city railway between the cities was the first in the world when it opened way back in 1830.
Always Head to Head
Over the years, the English giants have been close on the pitch. Both have challenged for European and domestic titles, FA Cup, League Cups and just about every other trophy you can think of. They are the two standout clubs in England in terms of league title success: Man United have 20 top-flight titles to Liverpool’s 19. The duo have always tended to compete against one another on the biggest stages.
The Liverpool versus Manchester United fixture is one of the biggest matches in world football. It is regarded by many as the top fixture on the English calendar, and we have been treated to numerous memorable games between the two rivals over the years.
1977 FA Cup Final
One of the standout games was the 1977 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool were the red-hot favourites in the national stadium after winning the league title and booking their place in a European final, but the Red Devils had other ideas. Lou Macari’s shot deflected off Jimmy Greenhoff to give United a 2-1 win.
The Great Stalemate of 1994
There have been several thrilling draws between the sides over the years, including the famous 3-3 stalemate at Anfield in 1994. United were dominating at the time and went 3-0 up at the home of their rivals after just 25 minutes. However, a Nigel Clough brace and a Neil Ruddock strike gave the Reds a share of the spoils.
Liverpool’s More Recent Victories
United had the better of things during the Sir Alex Ferguson era. However, since his departure, Liverpool have recorded several sizable victories over the Red Devils. In the 2021/22 season, for instance, the Merseyside outfit won 5-0 at Old Trafford and 4-0 at Anfield.
Liverpool also put seven past their rivals without reply in March 2023, which was one of the biggest Premier League routs of all time. Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah all scored two each, while Roberto Firmino was also on the scoresheet. The two cities are constantly competing on and off the field. It will always be one of the biggest rivalries in England and is right up there with the best in world football.
In terms of local teams, Everton are Liverpool’s biggest rival. Despite the two clubs being in the same city, the Merseyside derby is often called the “friendly derby”. However, on the pitch, there have been more players sent off in the Merseyside derby than in any other Premier League fixture.
Naturally, with the clubs so close geographically, there was always going to be a rivalry between Liverpool and Everton. Anfield and Goodison Park are famously just a mile apart. Everton even used to play their home games at Anfield. Many families in Merseyside have a mixture of blue and red supporters, and there is real respect between the two teams despite the sometimes bitter-seeming rivalry.
On the field, the Reds have had the beating of the Toffees over the past couple of decades or so. Liverpool went unbeaten against their neighbours at Anfield for 20 years from 2000 to 2020. Everton’s win in 2020 was their first success at Anfield since 1999. The 2020 victory was also their first win over the Reds in any competition since a 2-0 league triumph at Goodison in 2010.
Since the money has been pumped in at Chelsea, Liverpool have struck up a rivalry with the London side. The pair have met in several major finals throughout the years and had a whole host of ding-dong battles in the Premier League.
The first major final between the pair was the 2005 League Cup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were starting to make waves in the English game, and the Portuguese picked up his first trophy in England with an extra-time victory over the Reds.
2012 & 2019 FA Cup Finals
The pair also locked horns in the 2012 FA Cup final and in the 2019/20 UEFA Super Cup. In the 2021/22 season, Liverpool and Chelsea squared off in both domestic cup finals. The finals went to penalties, with the Reds holding their nerve on spot kicks to win both trophies.
It is rarely a dull affair when Liverpool face Chelsea, and the two teams are often evenly matched when they share the field. This game is always one to look out for when the fixtures are announced.
Along with Chelsea, Arsenal are another club with something of a rivalry with Liverpool. These two teams are among the most successful in England, and the pair have battled against each other in the Premier League era.
Only Man United have won more domestic titles than these two, while the Gunners lead the way on FA Cup wins. These two English powerhouses initiated a fierce rivalry on the pitch when Arsene Wenger took the reigns in north London in the 1990s and it was been maintained (to en extent at least) to the present day.
2001 FA Cup Final in Cardiff
This is one of the most exciting fixtures of the Premier League season, and there have been some memorable matches between the two clubs over the years. One of the standout fixtures was the 2001 FA Cup final in Cardiff. The London side dominated most of the game, but two late Michael Owen goals swung the final in Liverpool’s favour.
2009 Eight-Goal Thriller
The teams also played out an eight-goal thriller at Anfield in a Premier League game back in 2009. The match will always be remembered for Andriy Arshavin’s four goals for the Gunners. Yossi Benayoun rescued a point for the Reds in injury time.
Away from England, Liverpool also have rivalries, albeit relatively minor ones, with some European sides. The most memorable UEFA Champions League final was played out in 2005, as the Merseyside giants rose from the ashes to stun Italian side AC Milan to get their hands on the trophy in Istanbul.
First-half goals from Hernan Crespo (2) and Paolo Maldini gave Milan a 3-0 lead at the break. However, the Reds battled back in stunning style in the second period, with efforts from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso forcing extra time. Liverpool went on to win 3-2 on penalties to get their hands on the trophy.
Incredibly, the two teams met in the Champions League final just two years later. Milan got their revenge, with Filippo Inzaghi netting both goals in a 2-1 win for the Italians. They met again in the group stage in the 2021/22 season, with Liverpool beating the Rossoneri home and away. There will always be a great rivalry and bond between the clubs after the 2005 Champions League final, though perhaps one that is enjoyed more by fans of Liverpool than those of Milan.
In recent decades, Liverpool and Real Madrid have become European rivals. The rivalry officially started in 1981 when Liverpool beat Los Blancos 1-0 in the European Cup final in Paris. They have battled in two recent Champions League finals since then, with Real winning both.
The teams clashed in the 2018 final in Kyiv. Gareth Bale proved to be the hero for Merengues, scoring two second-half goals in the 3-1 Madrid success. Four years later, Vinicius Junior netted in the 1-0 Real victory in the 2022 Champions League final in France.