El Clásico: A historic tale
As Real Madrid and Barcelona prepare for another clash this Sunday, we take a look back at some of the most outstanding moments in El Clásico history.
As the LaLiga season continues on, this Sunday will see soccer’s two heavyweights take each other on in one of the most historic clashes in the sport. Spanish giants Real Madrid will host Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu with kickoff at 4:15 p.m. local time (10:45 a.m. ET) in the first El Clásico match of the 2022-23 season. The two teams are currently sitting at the top of the table with Barcelona leading the way and Real Madrid closely following behind.
This is a matchup that is highly anticipated every time and has been around for over 100 years and the game is well-known for its celebrations, which are not too different from those celebrated when winning a title game. As we get ready for this weekend’s clash, let’s take a look back at some of the greatest El Clásico moments throughout history.
February 1929: The first ever El Clásico
Real Madrid and Barcelona played each other for the first time in 1902, but that was not yet an “El Clásico”. The first official El Clásico between the two teams was in February 1929. Barcelona hosted Real Madrid at Les Colts Stadium, but Madrid walked away with the first ever El Clásico win, 2-1. Barcelona later won the reverse fixture 1-0 and the LaLiga title.
June 1943: Madrid rack up biggest ever El Clásico win, 11-1
The biggest-ever El Clásico victory came in June 1943 when Real Madrid beat Barcelona 11-1 in the second leg of the Copa del Generalísmo. In the first leg, Barcelona walked away with a 3-1 win, which is why it was bizarre that they were down 8-0 in the first half of the second leg. They only managed one goal in the second whilst Madrid manages three more, bringing the game to an almost comical final score of 11-1. Many say this is when the rivalry really began.
February 1959: First-ever televised El Clásico
On February 15, 1959, El Clásico was televised for the first time ever. Not only that, but it was the first soccer game to ever air on Spanish television at all. Real Madrid, with their star players Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas, beat Barcelona 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
1960s: Real Madrid becomes dominant force
With Di Stefano on their side, Real Madrid became a force to be reckoned with. Di Stefano had 14 goals in 20 matches at this point and today is tied still with Cristiano Ronaldo as the top goal scorer in El Clásico history for Los Blancos with 18 total. In December 1960, Madrid beat Barcelona 5-3 at Barcelona’s recently premiered Camp Nou Stadium.
1974: Barcelona bounces back
With the arrival of a Dutch player named Johan Cruyff, Barcelona became the dominant force again themselves. After Cruyff’s impressive performance in a 5-0 El Clásico win over Madrid at the Bernabeu, Barcelona went on to win the LaLiga title that year.
1986: Qinta del Buitre - Madrid dominates yet again
In March 1986, Madrid beat Barcelona 3-1 and they went on to win their first LaLiga title in six years. That was just the beginning of another period of dominance for Madrid, as they went on to win five in a row between 1986 and 1990 withe players like Jorge Valdano. Emilio Butragueño, and Michel and Manuel Sanchis. This era was known as the “Quinta del Buitre”, or “Vulture’s Cohort”.
1990s: Cruyff returns, Barca takes back the title
Madrid’s five-year winning streak was finally broken when Cruyff returned to Barcelona, this time as the coach. Not only did he break Madrid’s streak - he led Barcelona to four LaLiga titles in a row between 1991-94. In 1994, Barca beat Madrid 5-0 at Camp Nou with Romario and future Barca coach Ronald Koeman scoring goals. Nearly a year later, Madrid beat Barcelona by the same score with Luis Enrique - future Barcelona player and coach.
November 2005: The Ronaldinho show
The El Clásico on November 19, 2005 was one to remember. It was played at the Santiago Bernabeu and in the first half, Barcelona took the lead on a score by Samuel Eto’o. But it’s Ronaldinho’s goals in the second half that will be remembered. Early in the second, Ronaldinho ran from inside his own half, breezed past Sergio Ramos, then managed to evade Ivan Helguera and Roberto Carlos to shoot it past goalie Iker Casillas. 15 minutes later, he did it again, dashing past Ramos and shooting past Casillas for a 3-0 Barca win and bringing the fans to a standing ovation for the performance.
The 2000s: The Messi Era and the Ronaldo rivalry
Lionel Messi became an influential fixture on the Barcelona team. He joined in 2003 and there he stayed for nearly two decades. He became the all-time top scorer in LaLiga and in El Clásico games, topping Ronaldo and Di Stefano’s 18 for a total of 26 El Clásico goals scored. Of all his incredible performances, his 2017 injury-time goal stands out to this day. And the image of Messi holding his shirt up to the crowd will go down as one of the most memorable in El Clásico history.
Not only did we see Messi dominating LaLiga, but during this era, we got to see a rivalry between he and Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. The two were the best in soccer and in 2012, they played a 2-2 tie at Camp Nou in the first of their two meetings. Messi scored both of Barcelona’s goals and Ronaldo scored both of Madrid’s. That moment cemented the rivalry between the two and began one of the fixtures of El Clásico for years to come.