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Real Madrid-Barcelona: what is the biggest ever win in El Clásico?

Barcelona came to the Santiago Bernabéu on Sunday knowing that the LaLiga title was out of reach. But humiliating their rivals was still a possibility.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Clásico all-time top scorers

On Sunday, Real Madrid welcomed Barcelona to the Santiago Bernabéu in what was the final El Clásico of the season. Although it wasn't, like other campaigns, going to define the LaLiga title winner, it was one that could well be remembered for the scoreline, especially as Xavi Hernández looks to lay down another marker of his transformation at the Camp Nou.

As Barça ran into a 0-4 lead, they appeared to have double figures on their minds, and Los Blancos' defence were doing everything in their powers to assist that objective. And that got people asking, 'what is the biggest winning score in the biggest club game in the world?'

We thought we'd dust off the AS history books and take a look...

More El Clásico stories:

Biggest ever win in Clásico

In June 1943, one of the craziest Clásicos happened when Real Madrid beat Barcelona 11-1 in the second leg of the Copa del Generalísmo.

Barcelona had beaten Madrid 3-1 in Barcelona in the first leg and came into the game feeling confident. But by the time the whistle blew for half-time, Barça was already down 8-0, and Madrid added three more in the second to give us this incredible final score.

Some say this is when the real rivalry began.

There have of course been some other impressive wins in this rivalry. An important part of El Clásico's historical narrative, certainly as far as Barcelona fans are concerned, is formed by 5-0 wins, which very much looked on this time around. They won by this margin in 1935 and 1945, but the most famous 'Cinco-Zero' came at the Santiago Bernabeu in February 1974, when the Dutch master Johan Cruyff inspired a seismic thrashing of Madrid on their own patch.

As coach of Barça, Cruyff led his 'Dream Team' to a 5-0 Clásico win at Camp Nou in January 1994, although Madrid responded in kind with a 5-0 of their own 12 months later. The symbolism was not hard to spot when ardent Cruyff disciple Guardiola oversaw a 5-0 thumping of Jose Mourinho's Madrid in November 2010.

Barça have twice bettered this famous margin in terms of goals scored, winning 7-2 in LaLiga in 1950 and 6-1 in the Copa seven years later.

Messi in action against Sergio Ramos.
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Messi in action against Sergio Ramos.ALBERT GEAReuters

Madrid still boast the two largest wins on the record books – that 11-1 in June 1943 and 8-2 in February 1935.

Want some more facts about El Clásico? Keep reading...

First ever LaLiga El Clásico

The first time the two teams ever met to play each other was in 1902. But the first League El Clásico was in 1929. It was played in Barcelona at their Les Colts stadium, but the Barcelona fans had to endure their first El Clásico loss when Real Madrid beat them 2-1. They got the last word though, winning the reverse fixture 1-0 and thus the first LaLiga title.

The name “El Clásico”

Originally, the term was used for league matches between the two Spanish teams, but now, it has grown to refer to any time the two teams meet, including championship games.

Who's won the most Clásicos?

There have been 248 competitive matches and 33 exhibition matches between Madrid and Barcelona. Of the 248 competitive matches, Real Madrid has won the most, with 100 wins to Barca’s 96 (and 52 ties). Barcelona has more wins in exhibition matches with 19 to Madrid’s four (and 10 ties). In total matches, Barcelona leads the way with 115 wins to Madrid’s 104 (and 62 ties).

Di Stefano managed 18 goals in the Clásico.
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Di Stefano managed 18 goals in the Clásico.

Who is the all-time top scorer in El Clásico?

Though we no longer get to see the Messi/Ronaldo face-off, their legends live on. Messi is still the top goal scorer in El Clásico games with 26 goals. Behind him are Alfredo Di Stefano and Cristiano Ronaldo, tied with 18. Messi also leads in assists with 14, and is tied for most hat-tricks (two).

The current active player with the most goals is Madrid’s Karim Benzema with 11 total, ninth overall scorer in El Clásico matchups.

El Clásico: all-time top scorers
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El Clásico: all-time top scorers

Who has the most El Clásico appearances?

Lionel Messi for Barcelona and Sergio Ramos for Real Madrid are tied for the most appearances in El Clásico games at 45.

Clásico all-time top-scorers

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 26 goals

Lionel Messi, the only man in the top 10 that is still active in the Clásico, leads the table with 26 goals. Those 26 goals – 18 in LaLiga, 6 in the Spanish Super Cup, 2 in Europe – have come over the record total 44 fixtures that the Argentine striker has played since his first game against Real Madrid more than 15 years ago in November, 2005.

Although, surprisingly, it has been almost three years since the great Leo last scored against Los Blancos, in a 2-2 draw in LaLiga in May of 2018. He will hope to bring an end to that scoreless streak on Saturday to bring himself closer to the incredible 30-goal Clásico milestone – a milestone he may never reach, however, should he decide to leave Camp Nou this summer.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 18 goals

Much to the disappointment of Real and Barça fans alike, Cristiano Ronaldo no longer plays a part in this fixture and particularly in history’s greatest duel with Lionel Messi that lasted nine glorious seasons (somewhat coincidentally Messi has not scored since Ronaldo’s last Clásico before he left for Juventus in the summer of 2018).

During this time at Real Madrid, CR7 played in 29 Clásicos, netting 18 goals. Both he and Messi’s last Clásico goal both came in that 2-2 LaLiga fixture in May, 2018. He was never able to bag a hat-trick in the fixture, unlike Messi, who has two Clásico hat-tricks to his name.

Alfredo di Stefano (Real Madrid) – 18 goals

The stadium that was used over the last year or so as the Bernabéu was being revamped (Real Madrid’s training ground-based stadium used normally by Castilla and the underage sides) is named after this man for a reason. Arguably the club’s greatest legend, Alfredo di Stefano remains Madrid’s leading goalscorer in the history of the Clásico alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. Some onlookers would also point to the fact that the Spanish Super Cup - where Messi grabbed six - wasn't in existence before 1982.

Di Stefano himself was the subject of an intense battle between the two clubs, both of whom had claimed to own his registration due to confusion that emerged when the player moved from Colombian club Los Millionarios to Argentina’s River Plate. Acting as mediator, FIFA ruled that both clubs would share the player on alternate seasons. But the Argentine-born forward moved definitively to Madrid after the Barcelona interim board cancelled his contract following the forced resignation of its president at the time – a decision they probably lived to regret.

Raúl (Real Madrid) – 15 goals

Ronaldo celebrates one of his 18 Clásico goals.
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Ronaldo celebrates one of his 18 Clásico goals.

Not far behind Di Stefano on the Bernabéu legend stakes, local Madrileño Raúl comes in fourth with 15 goals. The former Spanish international played in 37 Clásicos overall, his first coming in a 5-0 rout of the Catalans in January, 1995 (he didn’t score) and his last in a 2-0 defeat in April, 2010. Out of the top 10 all-time top scorers, he comes second behind Messi in number of appearances.

Clásico all-time top scorers: 5th to 10th

Behind Raul are three players on 14 goals: César (Barcelona, 1939-1955), Ferenc Puskas (Real Madrid, 1958-1966), and Francisco Gento (Real Madrid, 1953-1971).

Making up the rest of the top 10 are: Santillana with 12 goals (Real Madrid, 1971-1988), Luis Suárez with 11 goals (Barcelona, 2014-2020) and Hugo Sanchéz with 10 goals (Real Madrid, 1985-1992), the Mexican sharing 10th place with Juanito (Real Madrid, 1977-1987), Josep Samitier (Barcelona, 1919-1932) and the only active player in the top 10, Benzema