Decisive derbies dominate fixture list
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Regular users of are accustomed to reading features on the greatest rivalries in world football in weekly previews and reviews. And because many of these tense, passionate affairs are set to take centre stage at the same time this weekend, it seems appropriate to take another look at the history of these great derbies and clásicos.

Examples of the latter phenomenon include the upcoming Paris Saint-Germain-Marseille and Porto-Benfica clashes, while the former will see the cities of Madrid, Rome and Santiago come to a veritable standstill on Sunday, as teams battle it out for local bragging rights.

Click on the links on the right for a historical overview of these legendary matches

In France, fans of the on-going soap opera between PSG and Marseille will be treated to a new instalment this weekend, while across the Pyrenees, the much-anticipated derby between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will, as usual, split the Spanish capital right down the middle.

Adding spice to these two high-pressure encounters is the much improved form of Los Merengues and L’OM after unimpressive starts to the season. In recent weeks, the reigning French champions appear to have finally regained some of last season’s consistency, while Real have hit the front in La Liga, overpowering recent opponents in the process.

Another common denominator is that both PSG and Atletico go into these crucial games with misfiring forwards. Neither French international Guillaume Hoarau, nor Uruguayan star Diego Forlan, have found the back of the net since 11 September. What better occasion to end their drought than against their club's traditional rivals?

Another north-south duel is on the agenda in Portugal, where Porto will cross swords with Benfica in what could be a pivotal game in the destination of the league title. Relieved of their crown by their old foes last season, Os Dragões came out of the blocks flying this year and already hold a significant seven-point lead over As Águias, who lie second.

Aside from the obvious boost to morale and pride that such a victory would deliver, the reigning champions are well aware that Sunday's match is the perfect opportunity to reignite the championship race.

The stakes are of similar magnitude in the Italian capital, where an underperforming Roma side takes on surprise leaders Lazio, with both teams still harbouring hopes of winning the title. Sent off during his last league match, talismanic Giallorossi captain Francesco Totti will be forced to watch the match from the sidelines.

Roma’s great rivals, meanwhile, are expected to be at full strength, signalling a derby debut for the Brazilian Hernanes. The playmaker should not be unduly affected by the crowd, however, having experienced the often raucous atmosphere of Brazilian football during his time at Sao Paulo.

Across the Atlantic, all eyes in Santiago, and up and down Chile for that matter, will once again be on another mouth-watering skirmish between eternal foes Colo Colo and Universidad de Chile. The country’s two most popular clubs enjoy a rivalry that dates back to the late 1930s, with clashes between them frequently producing tense, passionate and memorable affairs.

With both teams flying high in the Chilean top flight, another high-octane clash is on the cards. Seven points separate league leaders Colo Colo from their third-placed neighbours, who know this may be their best chance to close the gap in what remains of the season.

One team paying careful attention to the outcome of the match will be Santiago’s other behemoth, Universidad Catolica, who lie second. They will have a more direct opportunity to influence events in a few weeks’ time, however, when they take on Universidad de Chile in the city’s other big derby, a fixture with more than a century of history behind it.

For derby lovers whose appetite has not yet been sated by this expansive menu, more appetising cross-town clashes will be on offer later this month, such as Manchester City-Manchester United in England, Alianza Lima-Universitario in Peru and Nacional-Penarol in Montevideo, Uruguay, an age-old derby that pits two of the world's most titled clubs against each other.

Nor will football fans have much time to draw breath after this plethora of big-name showdowns, with the small matter of Argentina's superclásico between River Plate and Boca Juniors illuminating next weekend. Enjoy!