The 2014 World Cup is now over, but if you’re missing out on the buzz from the sport and want to travel to the most soccer-crazed places in the world, check out these top soccer cities.
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The capital of Argentina and home to the Superclásico, Buenos Aires holds the famous derby between the city’s popular River and Boca teams. This rivalry is, undoubtedly, the most intense in the country and perhaps in the entire continent of South America. What makes this derby so popular is that it is beyond just 90 minutes of soccer; it’s especially about the passion, color, and noise from the diehard fans, or as they are best known in Argentina, hinchadas.
2. Madrid, Spain
At the mention of Madrid, what first come to mind for soccer fans are Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid, the top two teams that compete at least twice a year for the city’s pride. Real Madrid’s biggest rivalry, however, is with FC Barcelona. In the last few years, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium has seen many battles between the two best players in the world, Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid). If you are lucky to be in Madrid during a Clásico, be sure to check it out live in a bar or in the stadium itself.
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Brazilians put their soccer obsession on display for the whole world to see at this year’s World Cup, held in Rio de Janeiro. This city breathes futebol 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. On the streets and beaches, there is always a football being kicked around. Rio holds the derby between rivals Flamengo and Fluminense, which is commonly known as Fla-Flu, at the legendary Maracana Stadium. Like with the Superclásico, when the game is boring, the action is in the stands, where over 78,000 torcedores gather to support their team.
4. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona also has its own intra-city derby, which is between FC Barcelona and Espanyol. There are big economic differences between both Catalan teams, so FC Barcelona usually comes out on top. If you are in Barcelona, watching a match at Camp Nou Stadium is a must do, even for non-soccer fans. If you can’t make it for money issues or because you aren’t there for soccer season, the Camp Nou Experience Museum & Tour is a great alternative to visit Messi’s stomping grounds.
5. Milan, Italy
This city is home to the Milan Derby (Derby della Madonnina) between Inter Milan and AC Milan. What makes this game special is that both teams always on their own home turf, since they share the Giuseppe Meazza stadium, commonly known as San Siro. Throughout history, Inter Milan has won more derbies in the Italian League, but AC Milan has won more derbies overall. In the fashion capital of Milan, fancy up and enjoy this battle for the city’s pride.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch a soccer match in any of these areas, go and experience it! The passion the fans in these top soccer cities have is contagious, and whether or not you like the sport, you’re almost guaranteed to have a good time.