It is a well-known fact that Football Club Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the biggest clubs, not only in the Spanish footballing circuit but in the whole world. Apart from that, the two clubs are also famous for their age-long rivalry, they put up such a show that a match between the two teams which is also known as the El Clasico, is also one of the most viewed sporting events around the globe. Such is the craze of these two teams that on average an El Clasico match is watched by 85 to 100 million people around the globe. It is a rivalry that has lasted for over 100 years now, and with another Clasico coming up this week let’s take a look at the top 10 El Clasico moments of all time:
10. Madrid 11-1 Barcelona; a political fiasco: 13th June 1943
The date of El Clasico always comes ringing red, but its effects always intensify when it’s a cup game. That is exactly what happened when Barcelona visited Madrid in 1943, to play the second leg of the Copa del Rey Semi-final, it was the intensity of the Real Madrid players and the mob behind them that got to the Barcelona players making it hardly an even contest.
There is a reason behind the outburst of Spaniards on the Barcelona players. Ever since General Franco’s neo-fascist party came to rise in Spain, a strict rule was imposed upon the people of Spain to follow a singular religious practice and speak a single language which was Spanish. This was a direct aim at the Basque Country and Catalonia, where people still enjoyed the semi-autonomy of speaking the tongue they preferred. As a result, when the Catalonian side visited the heart of Spain, the people of Madrid decided to make it a point.
Also, during the match, it is revealed that the Director of Sport’s security visited Barcelona players, to remind them how they should be generous of the fact that they were still a part of the Spanish Republic. What happened on the field was a pure effect of the threat passed on to the players, as fearing for their and their families lives, the players could only see how the Los Blanco’s players Pruden, Sabino, Barinaga, Antonio Alonso, Curta, and Botella scored 11 goals past them.
Witnessing such atrocity Enrique Quiralt, then president of FCB and a Franco loyalist, resigned from the post immediately after the match. Even Juan Antonio Samaranch, a journalist who wrote about the behaviour of the crowd and the injustice to Barcelona players, was banned from writing anything for the next 10 years.
9. The Stefano Saga
One of the best El Clasico moments came in the aftermath of World War II in the form of the transfer of Alfredo Di Stefano from Argentine club Millionarios to one of the two Spanish giants, Barcelona or Real Madrid. The saga turned into a controversy when in the summer of 1953 different entities such as FIFA and the Spanish federation with different agendas in their mind got involved in the tussle between the two clubs. Following this, Barcelona decided to withdraw from the attempt to sign in the Argentine. As a result, Real Madrid got their man and two weeks later they faced Barcelona, in which they defeated the Catalans 5-0, with Stefano scoring 4 goals.
8. Johan Cruyff’s arrival
Another classical moment came just a few years down the line, with both the clubs tussling over another star of the time, Johan Cruyff. It was a very similar situation to the Stefano saga, but this time Cruyff chose Barcelona over its counterpart in Madrid because he did not want to play for a team that was associated with General Franco. What followed next was a do-over from Barcelona as this time they duped the Madrid side in a 5-0 victory. Cruyff played a vital role in that game with his 3 assists and 1 goal.
7. Cruyff’s Dream Team 1993-94
In a new era of football, with Cruyff being the coach of Barcelona, which was already being called a dream team, the transfer of Romario completed the team, as they took on the field against Madrid in the El Clasico to emerge victorious by the margin of 5 goals to nil. The little Brazilian was too much to handle for the Los Blancos defenders as they helplessly watch his nimble feet dribble past them to score a magnificent hat-trick. This match was later inducted as one of the best moments in the history of El Clasico.
6. Figo’s transfer to Los Blancos
Coming to the dawn of a new century, the history of El Clasico witnessed another moment which was to go down in the history of the great Rivalry. This time it came in the form of the betrayal by a great star who was held up as the pride of Nou Camp. It was none other than Luis Figo and his then World record transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid, that gave birth to a fiasco that was witnessed during a derby match at Barcelona’s home.
Also dubbed as the derby of Shame, Figo encountered a blood-thirsty mob in the match played in November 2022. As the Portugues star went to take a corner, he received abuses along with beer cans, cigarette lighters, Whisky bottles, and the most significant of them all: a suckling pig’s head. The match ended goalless, although many people believe that had Figo scored in that match, he wouldn’t have reached Bernabeu in one piece.
5. The Ronaldinho show at Bernabeu
The recollection of the best moments in the history of El Clasico will remain incomplete without Ronaldinho’s mentions. The star’s performance against the Los Blancos in 2005, that too in their backyard was a reminder to the world of the prowess that the Brazilian possessed. The greatest moment of the match was when Ronaldinho made a beautiful run from the halfway line, smoothly cruising past the defenders with nimble footwork. At the end of the run was a cool finish past Casillas. Such was the sublimity of this performance that even Real Madrid fans stood up in appreciation of the fantabulous goal.
4. Arrival of Messi: the beginning of a new era
Just like Ronaldinho, the list will also always remain incomplete without the name of Lionel Messi linked to it. The Argentine made his El Clasico debut at the tender age of 19 and became one the youngest hat-trick scorer in it. His 3 goals helped Barcelona save the game against their rivals. The club was quick to recognize the incredible talent the young boy had and turned that into what we call today the Greatest of All Time. This list is just not enough to count the contributions that Messi has made to this rivalry, however, one of his most noticeable is that he’s the highest scorer of this derby with 26 goals to his name.
3. Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona: a no contest
As the era of the first Galactico came to an end at Real Madrid, a great gulf was created between them and their rivals Barcelona. This was upon show, when Barcelona defeated their rival by a 4-goal margin, in which the attackers and defenders scored alike. The scoresheet had the name of strikers such as Henry and Messi, while Puyol and Pique too contributed to the massive margin of victory.
2. UCL Semi-final 2011
The 2010/11 season was one of the most intense times in the rivalry of the two Spanish clubs. With Guardiola and Mourinho going at each other’s throats, there was extreme drama witnessed during the semi-final legs played between the two teams. Barcelona stole the win in the away game as Messi scored two late goals at Bernabeu to give his team away goal advantage. Coming into the second leg of the game, Marcelo scored a goal to cancel out the advantage provided to Barcelona by Pedri’s goal, but they could just never make a comeback to content for a place in the final.
1. Messi rubs salt on the wounds: Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona, April 2017
Late goals are the most enjoyed moments in Football, but they turn even more special when a late goal is scored in an El Clasico match to change the complexion of the game. Something similar happened in the second El Clasico of the 2016/17 season when Messi got in his strides to score a brace to win his team the match.
The match had been an even contest until the dying minutes of the game. Both the teams had scored twice already, and it felt as if it was going to end that way until Barcelona caught Real Madrid in a great counter. It was Jordi Alba who broke away with the ball and made a beautiful pass inside the box to find Messi who placed a shot well past Keylor Navas, to score his 500th goal for Barcelona.
He wasn’t done just yet, as celebrating his goal Messi removed his T-shirt and held it up to the Madrid supporters to taunt them.