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

There have been some high-scoring clashes between Real Madrid and Barça in recent seasons but nothing like the Cup tie that produced 12 goals.

There have been some high-scoring clashes between Real Madrid and Barça in recent seasons but nothing like the Cup tie that produced 12 goals.

Out of all of football’s famed rivalries, there is nothing quite like the one shared by Real Madrid and Barcelona - two clubs that are set apart culturally, geographically but between them have dominated Spanish football even before LaLiga came into existence. Domestically, Barça have the edge over their arch rivals having amassed 75 trophies compared to Madrid’s 68.

Unsurprisingly, El Clásico is the biggest game of the football calendar in Spain and has regularly commanded a television audience of millions from all corners of the globe. There have been some memorable meetings over the years - and some high-scoring ones. For both sets of fans, there is no better feeling than serving the eternal rivals a good hiding. In recent seasons there was Barça’s famous manita, a 5-0 drubbing of Mourinho’s Madrid at Camp Nou in November 2010. Prior to that was the humiliating 2-6 defeat which Madrid suffered at the Bernabéu the year before as they were chasing the runaway leaders neck-and neck for the title. And, most recently, Madrid’s spectacular Copa comeback at the Camp Nou.

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Legendary Clásico figures, Xavi and Raúl
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Legendary Clásico figures, Xavi and RaúlPEPE ANDRESDiarioAS

In general, Real Madrid have had the better over the Catalans during the past three years - last season’s 0-4 reverse at Camp Nou didn’t stop Ancelotti’s team from going on to win the league. Los Blancos’ biggest win over the past 20 years was the 4-1 victory in May 2008, just three days after they had clinched the league title in Pamplona.

There have been several occasions when spectators have been treated to five or six goals in El Clásico but the days when scoreboards entered into double figures have long passed. Out of the 184 league meetings and 36 Cup ties between Real Madrid and Barcelona, only four have ended with a combined total of 10 goals or more - two of them were draws.

The biggest ever win in a Clásico

In June 1943, one of the craziest Clásicos of all time took place when Real Madrid thrashed Barcelona 11-1 in the second leg of the Copa del Generalísmo semi-final.

Barcelona had beaten Madrid 3-1 at home 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 half to give us this incredible final score. Some claim that 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 triumphs, which very much looked on when the sides last met. They won by this margin in 1935 and 1945, but the most famous cinco-cero 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 which prompted Gerard Piqué to jubilantly hold his outstretched hand aloft as fans celebrated wildly in the stands.

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 with Fernando Sañudo scoring four and Jaime Lazcano, three.

Real Madrid's Fernando Sañudo clings to the net after scoring one of his four goals in the 8-2 win over Barcelona in February 1935.
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Real Madrid's Fernando Sañudo clings to the net after scoring one of his four goals in the 8-2 win over Barcelona 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 Clásico was in 1929 at Les Corts. The home fans endured their first Clásico defeat as the visitors prevailed 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 giants, but now it has grown to refer to any time the two teams meet, regardless of the competition.

Who’s won the most Clásicos?

There have been 250 competitive matches and 34 exhibition or friendly matches between Madrid and Barcelona. Of the 250 competitive matches, Real Madrid have won the most, with 101 wins to Barca’s 97 (and 52 draws). Barcelona have more wins in exhibition matches with 20 to Madrid’s four (and 10 draws). In total matches, Barcelona lead the way with 116 wins to Madrid’s 105 (and 62 draws).

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 Stéfano 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 14 in total, making the Frenchman the ninth-highest overall scorer in El Clásico.

Who has the most El Clásico appearances?

Messi and Sergio Busquets for Barcelona and Sergio Ramos for Real Madrid were tied for the most appearances in El Clásico games at 46, until the Catalan midfielder overtook the rest of the pack this season. He is now on 48.

Sergio Ramos nods home to secure a point for Madrid
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Sergio Ramos nods home to secure a point for MadridRodolfo MolinaDIARIO AS

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, six in the Spanish Super Cup, two 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 the game’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 (Real Madrid) – 18 goals

Arguably the club’s greatest player, Alfredo di Stéfano 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 - in which Messi scored six - wasn’t in existence before 1982.

Di Stéfano 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.

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) - 16 goals

The Frenchman’s hat-trick against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final of the 22/23 season was his first ever against the eternal rival, and it means he overtakes Real Madrid legend, Raúl. Benzema is now in the top 5 LaLiga goal scorers of all time (233) and the only current Madrid or Barça player on this list. When will we start seeing the striker as one of the best ever?

Raúl (Real Madrid) – 15 goals

Not far behind Di Stéfano on the Bernabéu legend stakes, 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

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

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


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