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From Manchester to Turin, it's derby weekend in Europe

19 March 2016, 10:04

London — They produce some of soccer's most acrimonious occasions, where emotions run higher than usual. Moods of cities swing on the results.

And by coincidence, several European leagues have derby matches on Sunday.

In England, there's a meeting of Manchester foes City and United. That will come shortly after Newcastle and Sunderland face off in the northeast.

In Italy, Torino hosts Turin rival Juventus. And Turkey sees the latest intense installment of the Istanbul derby between Galatasaray hosting Fenerbahce.

Here's a closer look at Sunday's derbies.



Founded in 1878, United is the oldest of the Manchester rivals by two years. But the disparities between the teams have been vast — until the few years.

United was historically the dominant force, winning a record 20 English titles to City's four. But the balance of power has been shifting since 2008 with City's takeover by a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family.

United, while still English soccer's biggest moneymaker, has been in decline on the field since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 after 26 years in charge. Ferguson's successors, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, have fallen far short of his high standards. Elimination from the Europa League on Thursday has essentially assured the three-time European champions a third trophyless season.

United's priority on Sunday is closing the four-point gap on City, which is in the final Champions League qualification place.

City is underachieving in the league by modern standards, but the 2012 and 2014 champions are already preparing for the post-season arrival of Pep Guardiola, the most successful manager of the 21st century. Still, outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini collected the League Cup last month and City is through to the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time.

This derby rarely witnesses significant crowd disorder and there were touching scenes in 2008 when the adversaries used their game to pay tribute to the eight United players who died in the Munich air disaster 50 years earlier.



Like Man United, Juventus attracts supporters from across the country, while Torino boasts a more localized fan base in Italy with parallels to Man City's following.

The oldest derby in Italian soccer first took place in 1907, barely a month after Torino was founded by Alfredo Dick after his acrimonious exit as Juventus president.

Torino won the first Derby della Mole, which is named after the Mole Antonelliana landmark, but it has largely been eclipsed by Juventus since then.

Torino is a seven-time Italian champion but last won Serie A in 1976. By contrast, Juventus is on course for a fifth straight title and record 32nd overall while Torino is mired in mid-table obscurity.

Torino's surprise derby victory last season was its first in 20 years.

The matches have often been marred by violence. There were clashes between fans in 2007 when cars and shops were vandalized.

Juventus fans have also been condemned for unfurling banners mocking the 1949 Superga air disaster which claimed 31 lives, including the "Grande Torino" side that had won five straight league titles.



This is Europe's Intercontinental Derby, with Fenerbahce crossing from the Asian side of Istanbul on Sunday to face Galatasaray on the European side.

Fenerbahce fans shouldn't be making the same trip because away fans are banned for such tense games in Turkey to avoid violence.

In the wake of Sunday's deadly Ankara bombing, Fenerbahce supporters failed to get those stadium restrictions relaxed so they could join their rivals in a show of unity against terrorism and honor the victims of the attack. The father of Galatasaray player Umut Bulut was among the 37 people killed in the car-bomb attack.

Galatasaray and Fenerbahce are Turkey's most successful clubs, with 39 titles between them. Galatasaray has the current bragging rights after winning the league for a 20th time last season but it is out of this season's title race.

Instead, Fenerbahce is chasing the trophy in second place, one point behind 13-time champion Besiktas, another Istanbul team.



The Tyne-Wear derby is an inter-city contest but only 14 miles separate Newcastle's St. James' Park from Sunderland's Stadium of Light in northeast England.

In the Premier League, only one point separates them — at the wrong end of the standings. Sunderland has the edge heading into the final nine matches, hovering just above the relegation.

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce still hopes to protect a proud coaching record of never being relegated while Newcastle has just hired former Liverpool and Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez in a desperate, late-season move to avoid dropping into the second division.

Confrontations between rival fans reached a nadir with riots in 2013 producing the memorable image, which drew outrage, of a Newcastle supporter punching a police horse.

- AP


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