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

Real Madrid may have won the league last season but Barcelona thumped their arch rivals in the most recent Clásico as a form of compensation.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi and Neymar during an El Clásico fixture.
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Real Madrid may have won the league last season (and the Champions League, just to rub Barça supporters’ noses in it) but Xavi’s side at least had the consolation of thumping their arch rivals in the final El Clásico of the LaLiga season. As Barça ran into a 4-0 lead at the Bernabéu, the visitors appeared to have double figures on their minds, and Los Blancos’ defence were doing everything in their powers to assist that objective.

The two sides are set to meet again in Las Vegas on 23 July in a pre-season warm-up game, which despite being a friendly will add another chapter to one of the longest-running rivalries in world football.

Sergio Ramos and Leo Messi in Clásico action.
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Sergio Ramos and Leo Messi in Clásico action.

Biggest ever win in Clásico

In June 1943, one of the craziest Clásicos of all time took place 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 were 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 Clásico wins. An important part of the historical narrative, certainly as far as Barcelona fans are concerned, is formed by 5-0 wins, which very much looked on when the sides last met. They won by this margin in 1935 and 1945, but the most famous ‘Cinco-Zero’ came at the Santiago Bernabéu 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 Pep Guardiola oversaw a 5-0 thumping of José 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.

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

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 have won the most, with 100 wins to Barca’s 96 (and 52 ties). Barcelona have more wins in exhibition matches with 19 to Madrid’s four (and 10 ties). In total matches, Barcelona lead the way with 115 wins to Madrid’s 104 (and 62 ties).

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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. Lionel 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 in total, making the Frenchman the ninth-highest overall scorer in El Clásico matchups.

Who has the most El Clásico appearances?

Messi for Barcelona and Sergio Ramos for Real Madrid are tied for the most appearances in El Clásico games at 45, with Sergio Busquets set to make his 44th appearance in the fixture in Las Vegas.

Cristiano Ronaldo.
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Cristiano Ronaldo.

Clásico all-time top-scorers

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 26 goals

Messi, whose 17-year Barça career ended when he departing for Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, leads the table with 26 goals. Those goals – 18 in LaLiga, 6 in the Spanish Super Cup, 2 in Europe – came over the record total of 45 fixtures that the Argentine striker played following his first game against Madrid in November 2005.

Surprisingly, however, Messi’s final goal against Los Blancos came a full three years before he left Barça, in a 2-2 draw in LaLiga in May 2018. He failed to find the net in any of his last seven appearances against Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 18 goals

Cristiano Ronaldo also no longer plays a part in this fixture, having spent nine glorious seasons opposite Messi as one half of history’s greatest individual duel.

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 Stéfano.
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Alfredo Di Stéfano.

Alfredo di Stefano (Real Madrid) – 18 goals

The stadium that was used between June 2020 and September 2021 as the Bernabéu is 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 Millonarios to Argentina’s River Plate. Acting as mediator, FIFA ruled that both clubs would share the player in 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

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