El Clasico is one of the biggest rivalries in the world. Which moments stand out among the 232 times Real Madrid and Barcelona have met?
Real Madrid's record thumping of Barcelona
The biggest margin of victory for either team in El Clasico of course came with controversy. The first leg of the 1953 Copa del Rey semifinal ended 3-0 in favor of the Catalans, which made many question this 11-1 defeat. Accusations were that then Head of State and Spanish general Francisco Franco had influenced the result, but whether that is true or not, this result remains one of the greatest achievements for Real fans.
The first European Cup meeting
Barcelona were into their first European Cup after winning La Liga in the 1958-59 season and they were dreaming of a continental title. But the Catalans lofty goals were spoiled by Real Madrid in the semifinals when Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas led Real to a dominant 6-2 win on aggregate. Barcelona would struggle in the competition for decades and did not win a Champions League title until Johan Cruyff’s dream team did it in 1992.
Mourinho gouges Vilanova's eye
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho showed the world his ugly side with his eye gouge of then-Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova in the closing moments of the heated 2011 Spanish Super Cup match. The two benches were involved in a scuffle after Marcelo committed a nasty tackle on Cesc Fabregas and Mourinho is seen walking over to Vilanova and sticking his fingers in his eyes. Gerard Pique responded by saying “Mourinho is destroying Spanish football.” The two coaches moved on from it, as shown in the picture, but it is still an ugly chapter in the history of El Clasico.
Di Stefano's first Clasico
Barcelona and Real Madrid have faced tough on field battles, but the one off the field for Argentinian wonder Alfredo Di Stefano was as heated as any. International transfer bans and government interventions actually meant that the two teams shared the player before he eventually joined Real Madrid full time. In his first Clasico game, Di Stefano punished the side that let him slip through their fingers by scoring four goals in a 5-0 route of Barcelona. Behind him and new president Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid rebuilt their organization to become the European power we know today.
A Champions League final spot on the line
Barcelona hosted Real Madrid to open the 2002 Champions League semifinal and felt confident about their chances at home. However, the home side were unable to score and two away goals by Zidane and McManaman gave Barcelona their first home defeat at the hands of Real Madrid in 19 years. The second leg didn’t go much better and Barcelona were defeated 3-1 on aggregate and had to watch their rivals go on to win the title against Bayer Leverkussen.
Cruyff brings Barcelona out of Real Madrid's shadow
Prior to this 1973 Clasico matchup, Barcelona had largely been the little brother to Real, only winning eight titles to Real’s 17. But the signing of Dutch legend Johan Cruyff brought a renewed sense of optimism for the Catalans and he did not disappoint. In his first game at the Bernabeu, Cruyff scored his first Clasico goal and led the visitors to a 5-0 thumping of Real Madrid. This win helped the club win their first La Liga title in 14 years and still remains the largest margin of victory for Barcelona against their rivals.
Four Clasicos in three weeks
The 2010-2011 season gave soccer fans the ultimate Clasico treat when Barcelona and Real Madrid faced each other four times in a span of 17 days. These weren’t just random La Liga games either, they included the final of the Copa del Rey and the semis of the Champions League. It seemed like there was a Clasico on TV every week and the commercials for them hyped up the meetings more than ever. These games didn’t disappoint, either, as Real Madrid won the Copa del Rey final only to lose in the Champions League semis a week later.
Figo's return to Barcelona
Barcelona fans threw flares, bottles, lighters and even a pig’s head onto the field as a response to their former player Luis Figo “betraying” their side by joining Real Madrid. His return game in Barcelona wasn’t a particularly great soccer game, with little chances and a 0-0 draw, but the display by the Barcelona fans showed everyone how seriously they take their rivalry with Real Madrid.
Copa del Rey final Clasicos
El Clasico matchups are even more important when they have high stakes involved. To date, Barcelona and Real Madrid have faced each other in seven Copa del Rey finals, the most recent in 2014. Real Madrid fans will remember that game as the one where Garteth Bale turned on the jets and ran past Marc Bartra, despite the defender pushing him five yards out of bounds, to score the game winner in the 85th minute.
Ronaldinho standing ovation
Clasicos have produced magical goals and performances over the years, but few will ever compare to what Ronaldinho did in 2005 at the Bernabeu. With his side already leading 1-0, Ronaldinho took the ball at midfield and dribbled past two Real defenders to score his first goal of the night. His second was similar, and the performance left Real keeper Iker Casillas in disbelief. Ronaldinho’s joga bonito style was so impressive that night that the Real fans gave him a standing ovation. Sometimes greatness transcends rivalry.