Despite international breaks being poorly timed and always intrusive, international football brings about something that club football can’t: it pits two nations against each other and brings political issues into play on the pitch and in the stands.
Countries that are bitter enemies are able to play out frustrations in intense matchups on the field as well as run riot in the stands.
Argentina – Brazil
Usually a game fought between the two best South American teams, but now the rivalry has died down.
Neymar, Messi, and Mascherano all took the same plane to the game, some rivalry that is...
USA – Mexico
Even more of rivalry with the election of Trump. This North American rivalry is a constant battle between neighbors.
Scotland – England
The OG rivalry in world football. The Scots will never forget what they did to William Wallace and always look to find a way to get back at the English. Scottish Independence anyone?
France – Italy
Two world powerhouses that have a knack for playing each other in big tournaments. No love lost here.
England – Argentina
The rivalry has always been a heated affair with contributing political factors playing a part. This rivalry is dipped in controversy from the Hand of God to Beckham's red.
Sweden – Denmark
Not much of a violent encounter as much a game between Nordic states. Zlatan made the encounter more interesting and more rival-like, but now it is quite sad of an encounter.
Turkey – Greece
It all started with the 300. Despite a very volatile past, these countries' relations have improved over the years, but still provide a decent football rivalry.
Serbia – Croatia
Nothing quite like a good Balkan state affair. This rivalry is almost always sure to have hard tackles, less than subpar football, and a shit ton of flares.
Spain – Portugal
Neighbors that share the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal has been largely overshadowed by Spain's success as of late, but the rivalry lives on.
Source: Soccer-Football scores
Egypt – Algeria
This rivalry has it all. Politics, soccer, fan violence, and player violence. These teams really fucking hate each other and aren't afraid to show it. Shit gets wild in these matches.
This Friday marks the last time that the Mexican national team plays anywhere in the US in a state that is not on the border, normal stadium use in the North can resume following the next four years.
International rivalries ascend the usual footballing matchups that discuss why a team is shit and brings more pressing issues into plain sight. Football may not be war, but it allows for an avenue of expression and a way to fully express national pride whether that be celebrating a win or beating the shit out of the opposing nation’s away support.