El Clásico (Spanish pronunciation: [el ˈklasiko]; Catalan: El Clàssic,[2] pronounced [əɫ ˈkɫasik]; "The Classic") is the name given in football to any match between fierce rivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Originally it referred only to those competitions held in the Spanish championship, but nowadays the term has been generalized, and tends to include every single match between the two clubs: UEFA Champions League, Copa del Rey, etc. Other than the UEFA Champions League Final, it is considered one of the biggest club football games in the world, and is among the most viewed annual sporting events.[88][5] The match is known for its intensity.[71]

The rivalry comes about as Madrid and Barcelona are the two largest cities in Spain, and they are sometimes identified with opposing political positions, with Real Madrid viewed as representing Spanish nationalism and Barcelona viewed as representing Catalan nationalism.[6] The rivalry is regarded as one of the biggest in world sport.[72][9] The two clubs are among the richest and most successful football clubs in the world; in 2014 Forbes ranked them the world's two most valuable sports teams. Both clubs have a global fanbase; they are the world's two most followed sports teams on social media.[10]

Real Madrid leads the head to head results in competitive matches with 95 wins to Barcelona's 91, while Barcelona leads in total matches with 111 wins to Real Madrid's 99. Along with Athletic Bilbao, they are the only clubs in La Liga to have never been relegated.

Rivalry

History

 
 

The conflict between Real Madrid and Barcelona has long surpassed the sporting dimension, so that elections to the clubs' presidencies are strongly politicized.

As early as the 1930s, Barcelona "had developed a reputation as a symbol of Catalan identity, opposed to the centralising tendencies of Madrid".[16] In 1936, when Francisco Franco started the Coup d'état against the democratic Second Spanish Republic, the president of Barcelona, Josep Sunyol, member of the Republican Left of Catalonia and Deputy to The Cortes, was arrested and executed without trial by Franco's troops (Sunyol was exercising his political activities, visiting Republican troops north of Madrid).[16]

Barcelona was on top of the list of organizations to be purged by the National faction, just after communists, anarchists, and independentists. During the Franco dictatorship, most citizens of Barcelona were in strong opposition to the fascist-like régime. Phil Ball, the author of Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football, says about the match; "they hate each other with an intensity that can truly shock the outsider".[73]

During the dictatorships of Miguel Primo de Rivera and of Francisco Franco, all regional languages and identities in Spain were frowned upon and restrained. In this period, Barcelona gained their motto Més que un club (English: More than a club) because of its alleged connection to Catalan nationalist as well as to progressive beliefs.[2] During Franco's regime, however, Barcelona was granted profit due to its good relationship with the dictator at management level, even giving two awards to him.[2] The links between senior Real Madrid representatives and the Francoist regime were undeniable; for most of the Catalans, Real Madrid was regarded as "the establishment club", despite the fact that presidents of both clubs like Josep Sunyol and Rafael Sánchez Guerra, suffered at the hands of Franco's supporters in the Spanish Civil War.[16][2][2]

The image for both clubs was further affected by the creation of Ultras groups, some of which became hooligans. In 1980, Ultras Sur was founded as a far-right-leaning Real Madrid ultras group, followed in 1981 by the foundation of the initially left-leaning and later on far-right, Barcelona ultras group Boixos Nois. Both groups became known for their violent acts,[2][2] and one of the most conflictive factions of Barcelona supporters, the Casuals, became a full-fledged criminal organisation.[2]

For many people, Barcelona is still considered as "the rebellious club", or the alternative pole to "Real Madrid's conservatism".[2][2] According to polls released by CIS (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas), Real Madrid is the favorite team of most of the Spanish residents, while Barcelona stands in the second position. In Catalonia, forces of all the political spectrum are overwhelmingly in favour of Barcelona. Nevertheless, the support of the blaugrana club goes far beyond from that region, earning its best results among young people, sustainers of a federal structure of Spain and citizens with left-wing ideology, in contrast with Real Madrid fans which politically tend to adopt right-wing views.[2][29]

1943 Copa del Generalísimo semi-finals

On 13 June 1943, Real Madrid beat Barcelona 11–1 at home in the second leg of a semi-final of the Copa del Generalísimo, the Copa del Rey having been renamed in honour of General Franco.[25] The first leg, played at Barcelona's Les Corts stadium in Catalonia, had ended with Barcelona winning 3–0. Madrid complained about all the three goals that referee Fombona Fernández had allowed for Barcelona,[31] with the home supporters also whistling Madrid throughout, whom they accused of employing roughhouse tactics, and Fombona for allowing them to. A campaign began in Madrid. Barcelona player Josep Valle recalled: "The press officer at the DND and ABC newspaper wrote all sorts of scurrilous lies, really terrible things, winding up the Madrid fans like never before". While former Real Madrid goalkeeper Eduardo Teus, who admitted that Madrid had "above all played hard", wrote in a newspaper: "the ground itself made Madrid concede two of the three goals, goals that were totally unfair".[32]

Barcelona fans were banned from traveling to Madrid. Real Madrid released a statement after the match which former club president (1985–1995) Ramón Mendoza explained, "The message got through that those fans who wanted to could go to El Club bar on Calle de la Victoria where Madrid's social center was. There, they were given a whistle. Others had whistles handed to them with their tickets." The day of the second leg, the Barcelona team were insulted and stones were thrown at their bus as soon as they left their hotel. Barcelona's striker Mariano Gonzalvo said of the incedent, "Five minutes before the game had started, our penalty area was already full of coins." Barcelona goalkeeper Lluis Miró rarely approached his line—when he did, he was armed with stones. As Francisco Calvet told the story, "They were shouting: Reds! Separatists!... a bottle just missed Sospedra that would have killed him if it had hit him. It was all set up."[33] Down in the Barcelona dugout, Ángel Mur who watched events unfold, stated, "When I took up my place on the bench, a policeman came up to me and said 'Today you're going to lose'... another armed police lieutenant spent the whole game calling me a Catalan dog and a red separatist. When I got up to treat an injured player, he grabbed me and told me to sit back down again. At which point, Piñeyro intervened." The policeman told the Barcelona president to shut up or he would be arrested. Piñeyro was assaulted by Madrid fans.

Real Madrid went 2–0 up within half an hour. The third goal brought with it a sending off for Barcelona's Benito García after he made what Calvet claimed was a "completely normal tackle". Madrid's José Llopis Corona recalled, "At which point, they got a bit demoralized," while Mur countered, "at which point, we thought: 'go on then, score as many as you want'." Madrid scored in minutes 31', 33', 35', 39', 43' and 44', as well as two goals ruled out for offside, made it 8–0. Basilo de la Morena had been caught out by the speed of the goals. At half-time, Barcelona's players decided that they were not going out for the second half. According to an interview Valle and Calvet gave to La Vanguardia in May 2000, a colonel appeared in the dressing room and said, "Go back out on to the pitch or you're all going to jail." Calvet later added an important detail when he told the story to his biographer Guillem Gómez, noting that when he questioned why there were not more police on duty given the atmosphere, he was told, "Shut up, obey, go out there and play... and lose!." Juan Antonio Samaranch, former Spanish minister of sports and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, wrote, "Barcelona did not exist and the same would have happened to any team. In that atmosphere and with a referee who wanted to avoid any complications, it was humanly impossible to play... If the azulgranas had played badly, really badly, the scoreboard would still not have reached that astronomical figure. The point is that they did not play at all." Both clubs were fined 2,500 pesetas by the Royal Spanish Football Federation and, although Barcelona appealed, it made no difference. Piñeyro resigned in protest, complaining of "a campaign that the press has run against Barcelona for a week and which culminated in the shameful day at Chamartín".

The match report in the newspaper La Prensa described Barcelona's only goal as a "reminder that there was a team there who knew how to play football and that if they did not do so that afternoon, it was not exactly their fault". Another newspaper called the scoreline "as absurd as it was abnormal".[31] According to football writer Sid Lowe, "There have been relatively few mentions of the game [since] and it is not a result that has been particularly celebrated in Madrid. Indeed, the 11–1 occupies a far more prominent place in Barcelona's history. This was the game that first formed the identification of Madrid as the team of the dictatorship and Barcelona as its victims."[31] Fernando Argila, Barcelona's reserve goalkeeper from the game, said, "There was no rivalry. Not, at least, until that game."[35]

Di Stéfano transfer

Image
 
Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona, hosted its first Clásico in 1958.

The rivalry was intensified during the 1950s when the clubs disputed the signing of Alfredo Di Stéfano. Di Stéfano had impressed both Barcelona and Real Madrid while playing for Los Millionarios in Bogotá, Colombia, during a players' strike in his native Argentina.[36] Both Real Madrid and Barcelona attempted to sign him and, due to confusion that emerged from Di Stéfano moving to Millonarios from River Plate following the strike, both clubs claimed to own his registration.[36] After intervention from FIFA representative Muñoz Calero, it was decided that both Barcelona and Real Madrid had to share the player in alternate seasons. Barcelona's humiliated president was forced to resign by the Barcelona board, with the interim board cancelling Di Stéfano's contract.[36] This ended the long struggle for Di Stéfano, as he moved definitively to Real Madrid.[36]

Di Stéfano became integral in the subsequent success achieved by Real Madrid, scoring twice in his first game against Barcelona. With him, Real Madrid won the initial five European Champions Cup competitions. The 1960s saw the rivalry reach the European stage when they met twice at the European Cup, Real Madrid winning in 1960 and Barcelona winning in 1961.

Final of the bottles

On 5 July 1968, Barcelona beat Real Madrid 1–0 in the Copa del Generalísimo final at the Santiago Bernabéu. Angry about the refereeing, Real Madrid supporters began throwing glass bottles at the referee and at Barcelona players in the last minutes of the match.[37] Antonio Rigo, referee of the final, was accused of being favourable towards Barcelona. He said of the incident, "After the final of 1968, I became more 'antimadridista', rather than a fan of Barcelona. But for a reason, I noticed that Madrid's 'hand' reached far and harmed me... Barça never offered me anything, not even a badge. However, Antonio Calderón, I think he was Real Madrid's manager, came to my room in the dugout before the game, and said 'I want to give you a good gift'. It was Madrid's custom of giving a golden watch. I guess it was conditioned on the victory of his team because I am still waiting for that gift."[37] Regarding the moments of two not-given penalties, he said, "I didn't see a penalty in Amancio, and Serena stumbled. Serena wanted to deceive me falling when he entered 7mm in the area." General Franco handed Barcelona the cup with the pitch full of bottles, hence the name.[38][39]

Luís Figo Transfer

 

In 2000, Real Madrid's then-presidential candidate, Florentino Pérez, offered Barcelona's vice-captain Luís Figo $2.4 million just to sign an agreement binding him to Madrid if he won the elections. If the player broke the deal, he would have to pay Pérez $30 million in compensation. When his agent confirmed the deal, Figo denied everything, insisting, "I'll stay at Barcelona whether Pérez wins or loses." He accused the presidential candidate of "lying" and "fantasizing". He told Barcelona teammates Luis Enrique and Pep Guardiola he was not leaving and they conveyed the message to the Barcelona squad.

On 9 July, Sport ran an interview in which he said, "I want to send a message of calm to Barcelona's fans, for whom I always have and always will feel great affection. I want to assure them that Luís Figo will, with absolute certainty, be at the Camp Nou on the 24th to start the new season... I’ve not signed a pre-contract with a presidential candidate at Real Madrid. No. I'm not so mad as to do a thing like that."

The only way Barcelona could prevent Figo's transfer to Real Madrid was to pay the penalty clause, $30 million. That would have effectively meant paying the fifth highest transfer fee in history to sign their own player. Barcelona's new president, Joan Gaspart, called the media and told them, "Today, Figo gave me the impression that he wanted to do two things: get richer and stay at Barça." Only one of them happened. The following day, 24 July, Figo was presented in Madrid and handed his new shirt by Alfredo Di Stéfano. His buyout clause was set at $180 million. Gaspart later admitted, "Figo's move destroyed us."[40]

On his return to Barcelona in a Real Madrid shirt, banners with "Judas", "Scum" and "Mercenary" were hung around the stadium. Thousands of fake 10,000 peseta notes had been printed and emblazoned with his image, were among the missiles of oranges, bottles, cigarette lighters, even a couple of mobile phones were thrown at him. In his third season with Real Madrid, the 2002 Clásico at Camp Nou produced one of the defining images of the rivalry. Figo was mercilessly taunted throughout; missiles of coins, a knife, a whisky bottle, were raining down from the stands, mostly from areas populated by the Boixos Nois where he had been taking a corner. Among the debris was a pig's head.[41]

Recent issues

During the last three decades, the rivalry has been augmented by the modern Spanish tradition of the Pasillo, where one team is given the guard of honor by the other team, once the former clinches the La Liga trophy before El Clásico takes place. This has happened in three occasions. First, during El Clásico that took place on 30 April 1988, where Real Madrid won the championship on the previous round. Then, three years later, when Barcelona won the championship two rounds before El Clásico on 8 June 1991.[42] The last pasillo, and most recent, took place on 7 May 2008, and this time Real Madrid had won the championship.[43]

The two teams met again in the UEFA Champions League semi-final in 2002, with Real Madrid winning 2–0 in Barcelona and a 1–1 draw in Madrid. The match was dubbed by Spanish media as the "Match of the Century".[5]

Image
 
Alfredo Di Stéfano's controversial 1953 transfer to Real Madrid instead of Barcelona intensified the rivalry.

While El Clásico is regarded as one of the fiercest rivalries in world football, there have been rare moments when fans have shown praise for a player on the opposing team. In 1980, Laurie Cunningham was the first Real Madrid player to receive applause from Barcelona fans at Camp Nou; after excelling during the match, and with Madrid winning 2–0, Cunningham left the field to a standing ovation from the locals.[45][5] On 26 June 1983, during the second leg of the Copa de la Liga final at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, having dribbled past the Real Madrid goalkeeper, Barcelona star Diego Maradona ran towards an empty goal before stopping just as the Madrid defender came sliding in an attempt to block the shot and crashed into the post, before Maradona slotted the ball into the net.[45] The manner of Maradona's goal led to many Madrid fans inside the stadium start applauding.[45][55] In November 2005, Ronaldinho became the second Barcelona player to receive a standing ovation from Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu.[45] After dribbling through the Madrid defence twice to score two goals in a 3–0 win, Madrid fans paid homage to his performance with applause.[5][5] On 21 November 2015, Andrés Iniesta became the third Barcelona player to receive applause from Real Madrid fans while he was substituted during a 4–0 away win, with Iniesta scoring Barça's third.[5]

A 2007 survey by the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas showed that 32% of the Spanish population supported Real Madrid, while 25% supported Barcelona. In third place came Valencia, with 5%.[5] According to a poll performed by Ikerfel in 2011, Barcelona is the most popular team in Spain with 44% of preferences, while Real Madrid is second with 37%. Atlético Madrid, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao complete the top five.[5] Both clubs have a global fanbase and are the world's two most followed sports teams on social media—on Facebook, as of March 2016, Barcelona has 91 million fans, Real Madrid has 87 million fans.[10][5]

Image
 
Luís Figo's transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000 resulted in a hate campaign by some of his former club's fans.

The rivalry intensified in 2011 where, due to the final of the Copa Del Rey and the meeting of the two in the UEFA Champions League, Barcelona and Real Madrid were scheduled to meet each other four times in 18 days. Several accusations of unsportsmanlike behaviour from both teams and a war of words erupted throughout the fixtures which included four red cards. Spain national team coach Vicente del Bosque stated that he was "concerned" that due to the rising hatred between the two clubs, that this could cause friction in the Spain team.[71]

In recent years, the rivalry has been "encapsulated" by the rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.[71] Following the star signings of Neymar and Luis Suárez to Barcelona, and Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema to Madrid, the rivalry has been expanded to a battle of the clubs attacking trios, "BBC" (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano) against "MSN" (Messi, Suárez, Neymar).[71]

Results

As of 16 August 2017[71]
 MatchesWinsDrawsGoalsHome WinsHome DrawsAway Wins
MBMBMBMBMB
La Liga174726933284277524915182020
Copa del Rey33121476463575235
Copa de la Liga6024813012201
Supercopa de España148423018641120
Champions League83231310112121
All competitions235959149399381646125242727
Friendly / Other344201044863114618
All matches2699911159443467677229302835

Records

Biggest wins (5+ goals)

10Real Madrid 11–1 Barcelona19 June 1943Copa del Rey
7Barcelona 7–0 Real Madrid1 November 1913Exhibition
6Real Madrid 8–2 Barcelona3 February 1935La Liga
Barcelona 7–1 Real Madrid18 February 1920Exhibition
5Barcelona 7–2 Real Madrid24 September 1950La Liga
Barcelona 6–1 Real Madrid19 May 1957Copa del Rey
Real Madrid 6–1 Barcelona18 September 1949La Liga
Barcelona 5–0 Real Madrid21 April 1935
Barcelona 5–0 Real Madrid25 March 1945
Real Madrid 5–0 Barcelona5 October 1953
Real Madrid 0–5 Barcelona17 February 1974
Barcelona 5–0 Real Madrid8 January 1994
Real Madrid 5–0 Barcelona7 January 1995
Barcelona 5–0 Real Madrid29 November 2010

Longest runs

Most consecutive wins

GamesClubPeriod
6Barcelona25 January 1948 – 15 January 1949
6Real Madrid30 September 1962 – 28 February 1965
5Real Madrid5 March 1933 – 3 February 1935
5Barcelona13 December 2008 – 29 November 2010

Most consecutive draws

GamesPeriod
311 September 1991 – 7 March 1992
31 May 2002 – 20 April 2003

Most consecutive matches without a draw

GamesPeriod
1825 January 1948 – 21 November 1954
1723 November 1960 – 19 March 1967
144 December 1977 – 4 June 1983
1219 May 1957 – 27 April 1960
105 March 1933 – 28 January 1940

Longest undefeated runs

GamesClubPeriod
14Real Madrid31 January 1931 – 3 February 1935
13Barcelona1 November 1917 – 3 June 1928

Longest undefeated runs in the league

GamesClubPeriod
7 (6 Wins)Barcelona13 December 2008 – 10 December 2011
7 (5 Wins)Real Madrid31 January 1932 – 3 February 1935
6 (6 Wins)Real Madrid30 September 1962 – 28 February 1965
6 (4 Wins)Barcelona11 May 1997 – 13 October 1999
6 (3 Wins)Barcelona28 November 1971 – 17 February 1974
5 (4 Wins)Barcelona30 March 1947 – 15 January 1949
5 (3 Wins)Barcelona11 May 1975 – 30 January 1977

Most consecutive matches without conceding a goal

GamesClubPeriod
5Barcelona3 April 1972 – 17 February 1974
3Barcelona10 January 1914 – 7 March 1916
3Real Madrid29 June 1974 – 11 May 1975
3Barcelona29 November 2009 – 29 November 2010

Most consecutive games scoring

GamesClubPeriod
23Barcelona27 April 2011 – 13 August 2017
18Real Madrid3 May 2011 – 22 March 2015
17Barcelona27 November 1982 – 31 January 1987
14Real Madrid15 February 1959 – 21 January 1962
14Real Madrid5 December 1990 – 16 December 1993
13Real Madrid1 December 1946 – 23 November 1952
13Real Madrid22 April 1962 – 9 April 1968
12Barcelona26 March 1916 – 26 April 1926
11Barcelona11 September 1991 – 7 May 1994
10Barcelona30 January 1997 – 13 October 1999

Goalscoring

Top goalscorers

  • Players in bold players are still active
PlayerClubLa LigaCopaSuper CupLeague CupEuropeTotal
Lionel MessiBarcelona166224
Image
 
In 2005, Ronaldinho became the second Barcelona player, after Diego Maradona in 1983, to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Image
 
Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra in a 2011 Clásico.
Alfredo Di Stéfano
Real Madrid142218
Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid85417
RaúlReal Madrid113115
CésarBarcelona12214
Francisco GentoReal Madrid102214
Ferenc PuskásReal Madrid92314
SantillanaReal Madrid92112
Hugo SánchezReal Madrid8210
JuanitoReal Madrid8210
Josep SamitierBarca / Real4610
Estanislao BasoraBarcelona819
Jaime LazcanoReal Madrid88
Karim BenzemaReal Madrid6118
Iván ZamoranoReal Madrid4228
Eulogio MartínezBarcelona2518
Luis SuárezBarcelona2428
Santiago BernabéuReal Madrid88

Consecutive goalscoring

PlayerClubConsecutive matchesTotal goals in the runStartEnd
Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid672011–12 Copa del Rey (1st leg)2012–13 La Liga (7th round)
Iván ZamoranoReal Madrid551992–93 La Liga (20th Round)1993 Supercopa de España (2nd leg)
Simón LecueReal Madrid451935–36 La Liga (7th Round)1939–40 La Liga (9th Round)
RonaldinhoBarcelona452004–05 La Liga (12th Round)2005–06 La Liga (31st Round)
GiovanniBarcelona441997 Supercopa de España (1st leg)1997–98 La Liga (28th Round)
 

Most hat-tricks

Most assists

  • Lionel Messi has delivered the most assists in El Clásico history (13).

Most appearances

  • Players in bold are still active
AppearancesPlayerClub
43Manuel SanchísReal Madrid
42Francisco GentoReal Madrid
42XaviBarcelona
37Fernando HierroReal Madrid
37RaúlReal Madrid
37Iker CasillasReal Madrid
35Andrés IniestaBarcelona
34Lionel MessiBarcelona
34Sergio RamosReal Madrid

Players who played for both clubs

 
Barcelona then Madrid
Madrid then Barcelona
From Barcelona to Madrid17
From Barcelona to another club before Madrid4
Total21
From Madrid to Barcelona3
From Madrid to another club before Barcelona9
Total12
Total Switches33

Honours

The rivalry reflected in El Clásico matches comes about as Real Madrid and Barcelona are the most successful football clubs in Spain. As seen below, Barcelona leads Real Madrid 90–87 in terms of official overall trophies.[71] While the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup is recognised as the predecessor to the UEFA Cup, it was not organised by UEFA. Consequently, UEFA does not consider clubs' records in the Fairs Cup to be part of their European record.[71] However, FIFA does view the competition as a major honour.[71]

Real MadridCompetitionBarcelona
Domestic
33La Liga (Primera División)24
19Copa del Rey29
10Supercopa de España12
1Copa Eva Duarte (defunct)3
1Copa de la Liga (defunct)2
64Aggregate70
European and Worldwide
12UEFA Champions League5
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (defunct)4
2UEFA Europa League
4UEFA Super Cup5
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (defunct)3
3UEFA / CONMEBOL Intercontinental Cup (defunct)
2FIFA Club World Cup3
23Aggregate20
87Total Aggregate90

Note: FC Barcelona won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup three times, but it doesn't count towards their UEFA European Record.

See also

Notes

  1. Does not include one goal scored in the 2017 International Champions Cup.