Top 10 memorable El Clasico matches

Stuart Appleby 20/12/2017
Messi scored a double at the Bernabeu last season.

Ahead of Saturday's mouthwatering El Clasico clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Bernabeu, we look back at 10 past matches between the two bitter rivals in years gone by.

10) PIG'S HEAD THROWN AT FIGO

Former Barcelona star Luis Figo, who crossed the divide to join Los Blancos for a then world-record fee of €60m back in 2000, stirred up much controversy over the move. Indeed, in his second visit back to his old stomping ground as a Madrid player, he was pelted with many objects - including a pig's head - as he went to take a corner. The encounter, which finished 0-0, was abandoned for several minutes while the authorities tried to keep the hatred of the Catalonian crowd underwraps. (November 2002).

9. LATE RONALDO HEADER SECURES CUP FINAL WIN

The 2010-11 season was dominated by Barcelona, with Pep Guardiola's men winning both La Liga and the Champions League - but Jose Mourinho's side denied their rivals a treble by winning the Copa del Rey trophy. Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning extra-time header was enough to put a small cog in the wheel of Barca's dominance. (April 2011).

8. REAL BEAT BARCA EN-ROUTE TO CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GLORY

Zinedine Zidane got one, and Steve McManaman the other - both goals being delicious chips - as Madrid defeated Blaugrana 2-0 in the first-leg of their Champions League semi-final clash at the Nou Camp. The two sides finished all-square at one apiece in the return as Real went onto lift the trophy that season, thanks again to a ZZ special against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park. (April 2002).

7. DEMOLITION JOB PUTS REAL TO SHAME IN CATALONIA

In arguably one of the best performances under Guardiola's trophy-laden reign, Barcelona thrashed the Whites 5-0 on home turf. Goals from Xavi, a brace from David Villa, Pedro and Jeffren shook Madrid to the core in a dominant display in which Sergio Ramos also saw red. (November 2010).

6. MESSI SHIRT STAND-OFF WITH BERNABEU

The Argentine genius scored a brilliant last-minute goal, his 500th strike in a Barcelona jersey, to hand the away side a famous 3-2 victory at the Nou Camp. Although Real still went on to lift the La Liga title last term, Messi's celebration - in which he took off his shirt and held his name and number up towards the Bernabeu faithful - will live long in the memory. (April 2017).

5. GUARD OF HONOUR EMBARRSSES BARCELONA

Real celebrated their 2008 La Liga title success in style as Barcelona were forced to form a guard of honour to welcome their rivals onto the pitch in an end-of-season clash. To make matters worse for the travelling side, Bernd Schuster's Whites ran out 4-1 winners in a convincing, celebratory display. (May 2008).

4. MESSI NETS FIRST EL CLASICO HAT-TRICK

The mercurial No.10 is the leading all-time goalscorer in El Clasico meetings, having netted 24 times in the fixture over the years. It was back in 2007, though, where he made his first real telling contribution - scoring a hat-trick in a 3-3 home draw with Real. (March 2007).

3. ALL APPLAUD BRILLIANT BRAZILIAN RONNIE

It's not often the Bernabeu crowd cheers a Barcelona player, actually, that never happens. Well, in 2005, we witnessed the unthinkable. Ronaldinho, who was easily the world's best player then, scored two goals in a 3-0 Barcelona win and was so good that the Madrid fans stood and applauded his performance. It was one of the those pinch yourself moments. (November 2005).

2. GALACTICOS PUT ON A SHOW IN STUNNING CONTEST

Barcelona cruised to a 17th La Liga title back in the 2004-05 campaign but this was one of the rare occasions that Madrid's Galactico side came together and produced the goods as one. Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Raul and Michael Owen all got on the scoresheet for the Whites as Vanderlei Luxemburgo's men recorded a 4-2 win. Ronaldinho also netted a superb free-kick goal for Barca. (April 2005).

1. MESSI SCORES SUPERB HAT-TRICK IN THRILLING BARCA WIN

Magic man Messi scored a stunning hat-trick in a vital 4-3 success for Barcelona at the home of their rivals, which ultimately proved a crucial title decider. Barca went on to win the 2014 La Liga crown, finishing on 94 points - just two ahead of Real. (March 2014).

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All eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi come Saturday as Real Madrid and Barcelona contest the first La Liga El Clasico of the season at the Bernabeu.

Given Blaugrana will arrive in the Spanish capital with an eleven-point lead at the top ahead of fourth-placed Real, the onus will be on Ronaldo delivering the goods against Los Blancos' fiercest rivals to reduce that gap.

Fresh from scoring the winner in the Club World Cup final against Gremio in Abu Dhabi last Saturday, Copa90 consider whether or not Ronaldo is still at the peak of his talents or has he entered a period of decline?

Despite a trophy-laden year of individual and team awards, Real have not seen the best of their star man in league action this term.
What do you think?








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Politically divided Spain united by Real Madrid and Barcelona's fierce El Clasico rivalry

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Messi's famed celebration at the Bernabeu from last season.

Often symbolised as pitting the pride of Catalonia against Spain’s capital, the ‘El Clasico’ between Barcelona and Real Madrid is a match laced with political and social as much as sporting tension.

Even more so this week when the sides face off in Madrid on Saturday lunchtime just over 36 hours after polls will close in local elections in Catalonia that were called over the crisis caused by the region’s drive for independence.

“They have a very strong ideological connection,” political scientist Pablo Simon told AFP.

“On the one side are Real Madrid, who normally can be said to have a more conservative and nationalist fan base.”

By contrast, Simon cites Barca’s ‘more than a club’ motto as being rooted in a sense of Catalan identity.

The sights and sounds of their Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabeu stadiums reflect that difference.

In Barcelona, Catalan flags, including the independence-supporting Estelada, are commonly flown, while the crowd at Europe’s biggest stadium chant in favour of independence in the 17th minute of each match to mark the fall of Catalonia in the Spanish War of Succession in 1714.

At the Bernabeu, Spain flags are splattered across the stadium, while cries of “Viva Espana” rang around on October 1 in the hours following a violent crackdown by Spanish police forces on a referendum on independence called by separatists in Catalonia.

However, for all their differences, El Clasico and particularly the fear of losing the matchup should Catalonia gain independence, unites both sets of fans.

“It is the derby of Spain and it feels like it is impossible to be neutral,” Sid Lowe, a Spanish football journalist and author of the book “Fear and Loathing in La Liga” on the rivalry, told AFP.

“It is a unifying event. No-one wants to lose this game, even in the event of Catalan independence.”

La Liga president Javier Tebas has repeatedly warned Barca would not be allowed to continue playing in the Spanish league if the drive for independence is followed through.

However, that is a scenario both clubs refuse to envisage with many believing threats from Tebas, who attended a nationalist march earlier in the year, are aligned to his own political beliefs.

“I want to tell all members that the intention of the club is to continue playing in La Liga. Right now our participation is guaranteed,” Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu told the club’s AGM in October.

“I can’t contemplate a Spain without Catalonia, nor La Liga without Barca,” Real Madrid president Florentino Perez told Spanish newspaper El Espanol.

Tension has been high following Catalonia’s drive for independence.

Bartomeu’s board has tried to tread a fine line by defending Catalonia’s institutions following the Spanish government’s application of home rule, but also not coming out in favour of independence.

Barca played Las Palmas behind closed doors on October 1 in protest at the violence at the polling stations.

However, even outspoken pro-independence campaigners like former Barca president Joan Laporta have called for Barca to remain in La Liga.

“No one at Barcelona wants to lose this game even though that potentially contradicts their political or social position,” added Lowe.

The most-watched football match in the world will attract a potential TV audience of 650 million people who will tune in to see five-time Ballon d’Or winners Cristiano Ronaldo of Real and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

“It paralyses normal life in Spain,” added Simon. “That’s why we always recommend to go to the theatre or the cinema at that time because they will be empty.”

Yet, the fact that what could happen to Barca, and by extension El Clasico, has played such a big role in the independence debate is a sign of the match’s deeply-rooted importance to Spanish society as something more than just a sporting event.

“On the face of it the fact we are concerned about the impact for football from Catalan independence is absurd because there are so many other things to be worked through,” added Lowe.

“Yet, it is the one that has occupied people the most. Will Barcelona still be in the league? Will there still be a Clasico? And no one wants that to be lost.”

Ronaldo and Messi are the biggest stars, once again, on show.

Provided by AFP Sport

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