Derby Week: Budapest's Ferencvaros and Ujpest go to battle in city full of rivalries


Derby Week: Budapest's Ferencvaros and Ujpest go to battle in city full of rivalries

Ferencvaros will take on Ujpest in the Budapest derby on Sunday
Ferencvaros will take on Ujpest in the Budapest derby on, Flashscore
Budapest is home to 2.5 million people, a quarter of Hungary's total population. When it comes to football, the concentration of power in the capital is even more pronounced - since 1901, when the local football league was founded, teams from the capital have won 110 titles. Most of these have been shared between the 'big four' - the four historically strongest Hungarian clubs and the four great city rivals.

Budapest's Big Four

Ferencvaros have won 35 championship titles (including this season's, which was secured with four rounds to go), MTK Budapest 23, Ujpest 20 and Honved 14. Ferencvaros took the reigns in the early years of the 20th century, winning their first eight titles between 1903 and 1913. MTK were able to break their reign and, after triumphs in 1904 and 1908, subsequently dominated themselves from the period around the First World War until 1925, when they won the league for the tenth time in a row and the twelfth time overall.

The first great Budapest rivalry, between Ferencvaros and MTK, known as the 'Eternal Derby' (Orokrangado in Hungarian), was thus established. In 1930, another team from the capital, Ujpest FC, won their first title, defended it in 1931 and dominated the league five times in the decade before World War II. In the same period, Ferencvaros added three titles and MTK two.

After the war, another competitor, Honved, entered the battle not only for Budapest but for the whole of Hungary.

The powerful Hungarians set the trends

Honved started playing under the name Honved in 1949; until then they were called Kispest AC. They were renamed and fundamentally changed after the Communist Party took over the country and the Ministry of Defence took the club under their wing (the term 'Honved' means defender of the homeland).

The army recruited the best footballers in the country and success came immediately. Honved won the title in the 1949/50 season, and in the first half of the 1950s only MTK could compete with them (they won the league in 1951 and 1953). The latter was also a club promoted by the regime and under the administration of the State Protection Bureau, or secret police.

Ferencvaros fans at the derby
Ferencvaros fans at the derbyProfimedia

At that time, the biggest derby in the city was a duel between the military Honved and MTK, renamed 'Voros Lobogo' (Red Flag) and representing the secret police.

In addition to domestic domination, both teams achieved success on the international stage. Their best footballers formed the basis of the Hungarian national team, who conquered the world at the time. Most of them were Honved players, led by Ferenc Puskas. The first great success of the national team was winning gold medals at the 1952 Olympics, where they won the whole tournament without dropping a point and with a total goal record of 20-2.

In 1953, the 'Golden Team' (Aranycsapat in Hungarian), as the team came to be known at home, achieved another great success, even though it was only a friendly. The Hungarians took on the English in their sanctuary at Wembley and were the first continental team to beat them on their soil (6-3). In a rematch in Budapest in 1954, the Hungarians won 7-1, inflicting on England their heaviest-ever defeat. The English press referred to their conquerors as the 'Mighty Magyars'.

The Hungarians were clear favourites for the 1954 World Cup, where they won all their matches until the final and scored 27 goals in five games. In the final, however, they surprisingly lost 3-2 to West Germany, whom they had beaten 8-3 in the group stage.

Coach Gusztav Sebes' team played in a revolutionary way based on dynamic interplay between the lines. Players did not just rigidly play the role of a given position, but changed positions on the pitch and covered a much larger radius than was customary until then. The mighty Hungarians laid the foundations of total football, which was later perfected by the Dutch and which is the guiding principle of modern football even today.

The successful era of the Hungarian team and Honved ended in 1956. That November, when the Honved team was in Spain for a match against Athletic Bilbao in the European Champions Cup, an uprising broke out in Hungary which was violently suppressed by the communist regime with the help of the Soviet army. Many Honved players, including the star Puskas, took advantage of the situation and remained in exile in Spain.

In the late 1960s came the revival of the Ujpest team. This was mainly due to the fact that this club was also supported by the regime - it was administered by the Ministry of the Interior. Named after the Hungarian medieval hero and warrior Gyorgy Dozsa, they won seven titles in a row between 1969 and 1975.

People vs regime, city vs country

Unlike the other three big clubs from the capital, Ferencvaros remained a 'people's club' not affiliated to any branch of the state communist apparatus. With the rise of Ujpesti in the 1970s, the derby between the two became the new main rivalry in the city.

Ferencvaros, MTK and Ujpest are currently in the first division; Honved and four other teams from Budapest play in the lower leagues
Ferencvaros, MTK and Ujpest are currently in the first division; Honved and four other teams from Budapest play in the lower leaguesP3K / Google Earth

In addition to political connotations and sporting rivalries, geography also plays a large role in the Budapest derby. While Ferencvaros are traditionally a city club from the district in the very centre of Budapest, Ujpest is originally a separate municipality on the periphery of the capital, of which it only became a part in 1950. 

All five Budapest derbies this season have been won by Ferencvaros, most of them comfortably. They won 6-1, 5-1 and 2-1 against MTK, while Ujpesti suffered defeats of 3-0 and 5-0. Will the league champions finish the season with another derby win?

The match kicks off on Sunday, May 19th at 20:15 CET. Ujpest have been waiting for a win against their big rivals for 25 matches, going back to 2015.

Other derbies of the week:

Thursday, May 16th

USA - Major League Soccer

DC United vs New York Red Bulls

Atlantic Cup

The better of the two rivals in their clashes win the Atlantic Cup trophy. The Red Bulls are the winners of last season's, having won the last derby against DC United with a thrilling 5-3 victory.

Norway - Eliteserien

Bodo/Glimt vs Tromso IL

Slaget om Nord-Norge (Battle for the North of Norway)

The cities of Bodo and Tromso are located above the Arctic Circle. In the first Battle of the North of Norway of the current season, the top (Bodo) and the bottom team in the table will face off.

Friday, May 17th

Finland - Veikkausliiga

FC Ilves vs FC Haka

Pirkanmaan derby

Ilves from Tampere and Haka, based 35km south in Valkeakoski, face each other in the derby of the Pirkanmaa region in southern Finland. The two rivals were in the 2023 season's relegation group, but both managed to save themselves. Now the first derby of the 2024 season will take place.

Saturday, May 18th

Chile - Primera Division de Chile

Universidad de Chile vs Universidad Catolica

Clásico Universitario (University Clasico)

The Clasico Universitario is the oldest derby between two clubs with roots in academia. The first time the teams from the metropolis of Santiago met was in 1909. After Colo Colo, the other city rival, the two university clubs are second (Universidad de Chile, 18) and third (Catolica, 16) in the number of titles won.

USA - Major League Soccer

New York City FC vs New York Red Bulls

Hudson River derby

After Wednesday's (Thursday morning CET) clash with their Washington DC rivals, the New York Red Bulls will face another derby, this time against local rivals New York City FC.

RB are one of the teams that played in the first edition of MLS in 1996, but back then they were called the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and have operated under the Red Bulls name since 2005. In 2013, a new club was formed in the city and a rivalry was immediately born. The Red Bulls are based in New Jersey and City in the Bronx across the Hudson River, playing their home games at Yankee Stadium, a stadium originally designed for baseball only.

Yankee Stadium was originally designed just for baseball only
Yankee Stadium was originally designed just for baseball onlyProfimedia

USA - Major League Soccer

Houston Dynamo vs FC Dallas

Texas derby

The Texas derby is on the schedule again after taking place three weeks ago, when we covered it in Derby Week in detail. Dallas FC won the first match of the 2024 season 2-0 and so far they are closer to winning the El Capitan trophy, which they and Houston Dynamo are fighting for in the derby.

USA - Major League Soccer

Real Salt Lake vs Colorado Rapids

Rocky Mountain Cup

The Rocky Mountain Cup is also taking place in the MLS. The Rocky Mountains tower between Salt Lake City in Utah and Denver in Colorado and the rivalry between the two clubs from those cities is named after them. The Rocky Mountain Cup, like the Atlantic Cup and the El Capitan Cup, is a physical trophy. It is won by the team that accumulates the most points in the derby. The first one this year was won by Colorado 2-1.

Brazil - Serie A

Vasco da Gama vs Flamengo

Clássico dos Milhoes (Clasico Millions)

The derby of the big clubs from Rio de Janeiro is called the Clasico Millions, because millions of people represent huge fanbases. These were acquired by both teams in the 1920s when they dominated football in the Rio area and a national competition was not yet formed.

Sunday, May 19th

Sweden - Allsvenskan

Hammarby IF vs AIK

Stockholmsderbyt I (Stockholm derby 1)

Hammarby IF and AIK are two of the three big clubs in the Stockholm metropolitan area (the third is Djurgardens IF) and the rivalry between them is one of the biggest in Sweden. The derby is often accompanied by fan skirmishes, and the hooligans of Hammarby and AIK are among the most notorious and largest hooligan factions in the country.

Netherlands - Eredivisie

PEC Zwolle vs FC Twente

Overijsselse derby (Overijssel derby)

The match between PEC Zwolle and Twente is a battle of the capital (Zwolle) against the largest (Enschede) within the province of Overijssel. This time the derby will take place in the last round of the Eredivisie season. Zwolle, as a newcomer, have had no problems in the top competition, while Twente are within reach of a great third-place finish and participation in the Champions League.

Eredivisie standings
Eredivisie standingsFlashscore

Netherlands - Eredivisie

Feyenoord vs Excelsior

Rotterdamse derby II (Rotterdam derby 2)

Rotterdam is home to three first-division clubs. In addition to Feyenoord, who will finish second this year, there are Sparta and Excelsior. Sparta have clinched a playoff place for a Conference League spot while Excelsior are still fighting for survival. In the last round of the regular season, they will try to avoid the drop by claiming points in the derby with Feyernoord.

Belgium - Jupiler Pro League

Anderlecht vs Club Brugge

De Topper (Top match)

De Topper will take place in the Belgian league in the championship round and it will be a big one. After all, just two rounds are left to be played and Anderlecht and Club Brugge are leading the table with the same number of points before the match.

Greece - Super League

Panathinaikos vs Olympiakos

Derby of the eternal enemies

In the last round of the Super League, the two most successful Greek clubs (Olympiakos have 47 titles, Panathinaikos 20) and thus the two biggest rivals from Athens will face off, potentially for the title. However, the third member of Athens' Big Three may defend it, with AEK at the top of the table with two rounds to go. It would be the 14th league triumph in their history.

Turkey - Super Lig

Galatasaray vs Fenerbahce

Kıtalararası Derbi (Intercontinental Derby)

Fenerbahce have 28 titles while Galatasaray have 24 and a six-point lead over their rival with three rounds to go. The match between Turkey's most successful clubs is called the Intercontinental Derby because Galatasaray are based on the European shore of the Bosphorus Strait while Fenerbahce are in the Asian part of Istanbul. We wrote about this and other Istanbul derbies in Derby Week previously.

Poland - 1. Liga

Lechia Gdansk vs Arka Gdynia

Tri-City Derby (Tri-City Derby)

In northern Poland on the Baltic coast, the cities of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot together form the so-called Tri-City, with Gdansk and Gdynia being home to two big clubs. In the 2023/2024 season, Lechia and Arka's clash was a second-division match but from next season the Tri-City Derby will most likely be seen in the Ekstraklasa. Lechia are already assured of promotion and Arka are very close. Now the local rivals will duke it out to see who will win the title. Arka are three points behind with two rounds to go.


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