Ever since Phil Taylor completed his 5-0 whitewash victory over Andy Hamilton in the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship, attention has been focused squarely on yet another encounter with Raymond van Barneveld.
In football, there’s Barcelona and Real Madrid. Rugby League has Wigan and St. Helens, while cricket has England and Australia.
Darts has its own massive rivalry between two of the sport’s greatest figures.
Fifteen-time world champion Taylor takes on five-time world vhampion Van Barneveld in a semi-final that many feel could be every bit as epic as the famous final they contested back in 2007. Even though they’ve met over 50 times, darts fans see every meeting between them as special, but why?
One of the reasons why every match they contest captivates fans all over the world is that they’re the two most popular players around. Every arena that Taylor plays in, the crowds sing for him, while there are always representatives from the ‘Barney Army’ at every tournament.
In terms of achievements, very few can match them. Only the great Eric Bristow and perhaps John Lowe can currently hold a candle to them when it comes to winning trophies. Both are crowd-pleasers too, and often try their best to entertain the fans.
The 2007 final was just one of many epic matches that Taylor and Barney have played together. The 2010 World Matchplay final, 2009 final of the Las Vegas Desert Classic and the quarter-finals of the 2006 and 2007 UK Open all linger long in the memory of darts fanatics.
On Sunday, with both players in form, the expectation from many experts is that it could be a close match.
The duo are certainly relishing the chance to lock horns once more.
“Things are coming together well and I’ve got to keep it going now and improve in the next round,” said Taylor, who defeated Andy Hamilton in the quarter-finals on Friday.
“I’m really looking forward to the semi-final with Barney now and it’s creating a lot of interest.
“It’s good for the game and Barney’s been the best player in the tournament so far. I can’t wait!”
Van Barneveld insists he is in confident mood ahead of the game – and with good reason as the in-form player at the tournament.
He said: “I’m looking forward to playing Phil in the semis.
“He’s an unbelievable player, but I have no fear of him at the moment.”
As it’s the best of 11 sets in the semi-finals, a 6-5 score in favour of either The Power or Barney could be a strong possibility. Here’s hoping!
Please Note: All Odds and Markets are correct at the time of publishing