Books, magazine articles and philanthropic essays have been written about the emotions behind De Klassieker - the meetings between Ajax and Feyenoord, the two most popular clubs from Amsterdam and Rotterdam respectively.  For the fans of the teams, this match is on a par to Real Madrid-Barcelona, which ironically takes place on the same day - Sunday 22 October 2006.

Ajax thrash Feyenoord to stay top

De Klassieker or 'The Classic' is not only a football game, but a clash between two cities with extreme differences in attitude and culture.  Feyenoord are considered to be the club of the dock workers of south Rotterdam (the city has the Europe's biggest harbour) and as a result has the tradition of been a hardworking and closely-knit side.  Supporters view the team's legends as being Coen Moulijn, Wim van Hanegem and Paul Bosvelt - players who reflected the will-power and never-say-die attitude of the fans on the terraces.

In terms of footballing skill, the Dutch are thought to be the Brazilians of Europe.  If that is the case, Rotterdam mirrors Sao Paulo, the industrial heartbeat of Brazil, while Amsterdam is Rio de Janeiro, a cosmopolitan metropolis.  According to Rotterdam poet Jules Deedler, "The country's money is earned in Rotterdam, divided in The Hague and flushed down the toilet in Amsterdam!"  The analogy may not be the most pleasant, but it is indeed indicative of the feelings of the Feyenoord fans. 

Yet, they can be justifiably proud of what their team has achieved: 14 league titles, ten Dutch Cups, two Super Cups, two UEFA Cups, a European and a Club World Championship success in 1970.  However, when you compare this to Ajax's haul of 29 Dutch championships, 17 league titles, 16 Dutch Cups, and Intertoto Cup, four Super Cups, three European Champions Cups, one UEFA Champions League success, one European Cup Winners Cup, one UEFA Cup, three European Super Cups and two Club World Championships - Feyenoord's achievements are somewhat overshadowed.

Not words, but deeds
Sunday's match will take place in Rotterdam at the stadium which is officially named 'Stadion Feyenoord', but known to the footballing world as 'De Kuip' ('The Tub').  Even among Ajax fans, De Kuip is regarded as the most atmospheric ground in the country, as the fans are in close proximity to the players.  Indeed, it is widely claimed that the Feyenoord fans built the stadium for themselves, as it was an unemployment relief project during the economic crisis of the 1930s.  This highlights the clubs motto 'Geen Woorden Maar Daden' ('Not words but deeds').

The 'artists' of Ajax are favourites going into Sunday's match.  With six wins from their seven games so far - and boosted by a squad which includes Ryan Babel, John Heitinga and Klass Jan Huntelaar, the Amsterdam outfit will have no fear of making the 70km journey to Rotterdam.  Plus, the Godenzonen (Sons of the Gods) have history on their side.  In 153 matches between the two teams, Ajax have won 68 compared with Feyenoord's 51.

Ajax-Feyenoord is also a game which neutral football fans are guaranteed to enjoy.  Some of the most classic Classics have been littered with goals.  Just over 42 years since the first meeting the two sides, Feyenoord defeated Ajax 9-4 on 29 November 1964.  At the beginning of the 1983/84 season, Ajax thrashed their rivals 8-2, but the Rotterdammers got their revenge by winning the league and cup double in that season - and also defeat Ajax by four goals to one in the return match with a side that included Ajax legend Johan Cruyff, who was coming to the end of his playing career.

Regrettably, trouble on the terraces has marred recent matches between the two teams, yet there are signs of improvement.  Indeed, there is a healthy respect between both sets of supporters for, as one Ajax fan website puts it, "someone you really look down upon, can never be your rival."