Barcelona vs Real Madrid: why is this game called El Clásico?
It's considered by most as the biggest club game on the planet and started over 100 years ago, but many still don't know the background to this rivalry.
It’s almost time for the first clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid in LaLiga Santander 2021/22 season. A game known globally as El Clásico, some people are still asking how the name, literally translated into 'The Classic', came to be. Allow me to add some sense to it…
El Clásico aka Barcelona vs Real Madrid
There are numerous huge derbies around the footballing world, and depending on how you define the rivalry or spectacle, many can argue to be the biggest or best. That said, it’s hard to ignore the pulling power of interest of Spain’s most successful two clubs going head to head - a game that is broadcast in all but four countries on this planet. Anyway, I’m not here, today at least, to make a case either way in this regard.
It's all about El Clásico:
It is worth noting that the name ‘El Clásico’ goes further back than these two clubs - with the passionate River Plate and Boca Juniors rivalry in Argentina originally having the tag before self-upgrading to superclásico - but there’s no doubt that to the average football fan in most countries, Spain’s big two are better known for it. Another factor not everyone realises is that the name ‘El Clásico’ used to only refer to Madrid and Barça meeting in the league whereas now it applies to any time they clash.
El Clásico: where the stars align
One of the reasons behind this being such a famous encounter is due to the list of superstars that have graced it, many known by even haters of the Beautiful Game, such is, or was, their stature.
From Barça greats like Ronaldinho, Andrés Iniesta, Rivaldo, Xavi and Lionel Messi, to Alfredo di Stefano, Raúl, Roberto Carlos, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid, the list of household names could stretch this article in the way that many of these players could an opposition defence. And then there are the controversial few who, at the top of their game, decided to make the switch between teams: looking at you Ronaldo Nazario and Luis Figo!
Top notch players and headline-grabbers aside, there is so much more to this classic fixture.
Barça and Madrid ideological clash
Although it is more nuanced than is often made out, Madrid represent Spanish nationalism - most notably during the Franco years - while Barcelona fly the flag, literally, for Catalan independence. These two huge and rich cities have so many other reasons to be rivals and the football has just been another outlet for the feelings.
Politics and ideologies collide whether in the colossal theatres of the Camp Nou or the Santiago Bernabéu and rarely let the viewing public down. It’s taken much longer than planned but the fixture will now even have its own branded logo, making its first appearance on Sunday 24 October. You’ll not want to miss it.