A History of ElClásico: Real Madrid v FC Barcelona

The football world literally grinds to a halt when these two sides collide. They are different in every possible way imaginable, but yet so blessed with silverware, history and incredibly passionate fans.

Barcelona and Real Madrid discovered very different formulas for success and both sides define themselves perfectly. They are iconic, massive and bitter rivals. To many around the world, ElClásico is the biggest game of football possible. Whether played at the Spotify Camp Nou, at the Santiago Bernabeu, or at a neutral venue, the appeal of this game is irresistible.

elclasico real madrid barsa

The Origins of the Rivalry

The origins of this rivalry can be traced back to the early 1900s when the two clubs first began competing against each other on the football field. At that time, football was just starting to gain popularity in Spain, with large crowds being drawn to matches across the country. These were the two biggest cities in Spain, so bragging rights were always going to be important.

As the two clubs continued to compete against each other, the intensity of the rivalry only grew. The transfer of star players between the two clubs only added fuel to the fire, and the intense matches between the two teams became must-see events for football fans all over the world.

There are several factors that contribute to the intensity of this rivalry, including

  1. Success on the Field: Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have been successful football clubs, and they have a long history of competing against each other in some of the biggest matches in Spanish football. This success and competitiveness on the field has only added to the intensity of the rivalry.
  2. Player Transfers: The transfer of star players between the two clubs has also contributed to the rivalry. When a player moves from one club to the other, it is often seen as a betrayal, and this has added fuel to the fire. 

Players who have played for both teams

There are some players who have crossed the divide, including these six massive names:

  1. Luis Enrique: A former Spanish international, Luis Enrique played for Barcelona for eight years before moving to Real Madrid for a single season.
  2. Bernd Schuster: A German midfielder, Schuster played for Barcelona from 1988 to 1990 before joining Real Madrid in 1990.
  3. Luis Figo: One of the most famous players to have played for both clubs, Figo started his career at Sporting Lisbon before joining Barcelona in 1995. He then moved to Real Madrid in 2000 for a then-world-record transfer fee.
  4. Michael Laudrup: A Danish international, Laudrup played for Barcelona from 1989 to 1994 before moving to Real Madrid in 1994.
  5. Ronaldo: The Brazilian striker, Ronaldo, played for Barcelona in 1996-1997 before joining Real Madrid in 2002.
  6. Alfredo Di Stefano: A legendary Argentine striker, Di Stefano played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid. He started his career at River Plate in Argentina before joining Barcelona in 1953. He then moved to Real Madrid in 1953 and went on to become one of the greatest players in the history of the club.

The first-ever ElClásico

The first-ever ElClásico match between Real Madrid and Barcelona took place on May 13, 1902. It was a Copa del Rey final match and was played in the Velodrome de la Ciudad Lineal in Madrid, Spain.

In those days, the Copa del Rey was the most prestigious tournament in Spanish football, and the match between Real Madrid and Barcelona was highly anticipated. The match was watched by a large and passionate crowd, and it marked the beginning of one of the greatest rivalries in the world of sports.

As you can imagine, the technology available in 1902 made it impossible to document the game well, but we do know that Barcelona won the first-ever ElClásico 3-1, which is still a significant bit of trivia today! 

Historical ElClásico matches

There have been many memorable and historic ElClásico matches throughout the history of Spanish football, but here are some of the most iconic ElClásico matches:

  1. ElClásico of June 17, 1902: This was the first recorded ElClásico match and took place between Madrid Football Club and FC Barcelona. The match was played in the Spanish Cup and ended in a 3-1 victory for Madrid Football Club.
  2. ElClásico of June 13, 1943: This ElClásico match was played in the final of the Copa del Generalísimo (now known as the Copa del Rey) and was won by Barcelona with a final score of 3-0.
  3. ElClásico of June 5, 1960: This ElClásico match was played in the final of the European Cup (now known as the UEFA Champions League) and was won by Real Madrid with a final score of 7-3. This match is considered one of the greatest ever played and it helped establish Real Madrid as one of the dominant teams in European football at the time.
  4. The ElClásico of May 2, 2009 went down in history as the darkest day to be a Real Madrid fan. The reason? The 6-2 humbling they suffered in their own stadium. A tactical masterclass from Pep Guardiola saw his side demolish Real Madrid, with Messi as a false 9. He helped himself to two goals alongside Thierry Henry, with defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique also piling more misery onto Madrid. 
  5. ElClásico of November 29, 2010: This ElClásico match is remembered for being one of the most exciting and high-scoring matches in the history of the rivalry. The match ended in a 5-0 victory for Barcelona, with goals from David Villa, Jeffren, Xavi, Pedro, and an own goal from Marcelo.

ElClásico clashes in the 2010/11 season

That particular season stands out in the modern history of ElClásico. The teams played twice in LaLiga, as per usual, but also met in the Copa del Rey Final and the Semi-Finals of the Champions League. This was an ElClásico year!

The first match, which was played on November 29, 2010, is widely regarded as one of the most exciting and high-scoring ElClásico matches in history. The match ended in a 5-0 victory for Barcelona, with goals from David Villa, Jeffren, Xavi, Pedro, and an own goal from Marcelo.

Ronaldo and Messi were both on the scoresheet in the second round in a 1-1 draw.

The Copa Del Rey Final was a highly anticipated affair, but a cagey one which ended 0-0 after 90 minutes. It was Cristiano Ronaldo’s 103rd-minute strike that clinched the trophy for Real Madrid.

The Champions League semi-finals 

Anytime these two rivals meet is nervy, but coming together in the semi-finals of the biggest club competition in the world is something special.

That season, Barcelona were simply unstoppable and the front line of Messi, David Villa and Pedro was always destined for glory. The first leg was played at the Bernabeu, and that is where the tie was won. Barcelona dominated the away leg and beat their rivals 2-0, with you know who on the score sheet.

We say you know who, as Leo Messi could not stop scoring that season. The second leg ended 1-1, with Barcelona through to the Champions League final, 3-1 on aggregate. They went on to win the Champions League with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United in London’s Wembley stadium. The goalscorers: Well, guess!

Pedro, Messi and Villa – again! 

ElClásico statistics

Out of the 251 games, Real Madrid are currently just edging their rivals. Here’s a breakdown of the greatest rivalry, from the dawn of ElClásico to 15th January 2023.

  • Total wins for FC Barcelona: 98
  • Total wins for Real Madrid: 101
  • Draws: 52
  • Goals for FC Barcelona: 412
  • Goals for Real Madrid: 419
  • Home wins for FC Barcelona: 62
  • Home wins for Real Madrid: 65

Top Scorers in ElClásico

  1. Lionel Messi – 26 goals
  2. Cristiano Ronaldo – 18 goals
  3. Alfredo Di Stefano – 18 goals
  4. Raul – 15 goals
  5. Cesar – 14 goals
  6. Francisco Gento – 14 goals
  7. Ferenc Puskás – 14 goals
  8. Karim Benzema – 13 goals and counting

Coaches with the most ElClásico matches

CoachTeamSeasonsMatchesMatches Won
Miguel MuñosReal Madrid1960-19743616
Johan CruyffBarcelona1988-1996259
Jose MourinhoReal Madrid2010-2013174
Pep GuardiolaBarcelona2008-2012159

Players with the most ElClásico matches

Sergio BusquetsBarcelona45 and counting
Lionel MessiBarcelona45
Sergio RamosReal Madrid45

The biggest goals in ElClásico

With so many goals scored by both sides, picking the biggest ElClásico goals is impossible, but let’s tease you with a handful:

  1. Gareth Bale’s 85th-minute winner in the 2014 Copa del Rey final. With the scores level at 1-1, the Welshman scored an incredible goal to seal the tie and the trophy for Real Madrid. Bale was incredibly fast, even running off the pitch as he tore past the Barcelona wingbacks like they weren’t there. It was a goal for the ages! 
  2. Alfredo Di Stéfano’s hat-trick in the 1957 Copa del Rey final: In the 1957 Copa del Rey final, Real Madrid’s legendary striker Alfredo Di Stéfano scored a hat-trick to help his team secure a 3-1 victory over Barcelona.
  3. Luis Enrique’s goal in the 1994-95 LaLiga season: In the 1994-95 LaLiga season, Barcelona’s Luis Enrique scored a stunning solo goal in a 4-0 victory over Real Madrid. Enrique dribbled past several Real Madrid defenders before scoring a powerful shot into the top corner.
  4. Lionel Messi’s solo goal in the 2010-11 LaLiga season: In the 2010-11 LaLiga season, Lionel Messi scored a solo goal for Barcelona in a 2-0 victory over Real Madrid. Messi dribbled past several Real Madrid defenders to score the goal, and it is widely considered one of the greatest goals in the history of “ElClásico”.

Yep, ElClásico matches are a lot of fun and this particular clash draws in huge audiences from across the globe, so keep an eye out on the fixtures for the next ElClásico.

FC Barcelona and Socios.com

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