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The Derby Diaries: El Clasico

The fiercest rivalry in the football world including FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in El Clasico is not only the most-watched game in Spain but is also the domestic football match with the biggest audience worldwide.

Akash Shukla
Last updated: 04.10.2019
The Derby Diaries: El Clasico | Sports Social Blog

El Clásico between Football Club Barcelona and Real Madrid is now the match between two Liga teams that has been played numerous times.

It is not only the most-watched game in Spain but, with an average audience of over 500 million viewers, is also the domestic football match with the biggest audience worldwide.

Apparently, the term El Clásico didn't come into use until the beginning of the 21st century, when it became increasingly clear that the match between two of the biggest football clubs in the world transcended into a sporting rivalry.


The Beginning of Rivalry


The fierce rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid really began once La Liga was started in 1928-29 season.

That very first Liga was closely fought between the two sides with Real Madrid going to top after beating Barcelona in the Camp de Les Cortes 2-1 in just the second game of the season.

The 1934-35 season left two historic El Clasico results - the first 5-0 victory by Barcelona over Madrid was returned later in the season when the madrileños beat the Catalans 8-2.

Throughout the 1930s, Madrid was the better team and this was possibly why the FC Barcelona board didn't allow them to participate in the Campionat de Catalunya after the Liga and the Campeonato Regional Centro were suspended due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

The two sides didn't meet again until the end of the Civil War when La Liga began again in the 1939-40 season.

From the Dream Team to La Séptima

After five seasons of Madrid domination, in 1990-91 La Liga title returned to Barcelona and stayed there for four consecutive seasons until 1993-94.

The Barça side which was then coached by Cruyff was known as the Dream Team and also brought the first European Cup to Barcelona by beating Sampdoria at Wembley in 1992.

FC Barcelona would win two more Leagues and two more Cups before the end of the decade but after Cruyff left Camp Nou in 1996, dominance returned to Madrid led by Raúl González.

Raúl had debuted with the Real Madrid first team in 1994 and in 1998 was to lead the Merengues to their seventh European Cup, now renamed the Champions League.

Real Madrid repeated their success in 1999-2000 to take their eighth European title.

Two intense matches took place in 1993-94 and 1994-95 when FC Barcelona first beat Real Madrid 5-0 in Camp Nou and Real Madrid returned the compliment with a 5-0 victory in the Santiago Bernabéu.

The Madrid side for the second game featured two turncoat player – Michael Ludrop, who had signed from Barcelona after differences with Cruyff, and Luís Enrique, who would later become a Barcelona legend as a player and coach.

The Greatest Clubs in History

As part of the Millenium celebrations, FIFA designated Real Madrid as the Best Club of the 20th century whilst the International Federation of Football History & Statistics voted the club Best European Club.

The main bone of contention, though, came in 2000 when Barcelona idol Luis Figo signed for Real Madrid by President Florentino Pérez.

The rather Madrid team who then came to be known as Los Galácticos began to take shape, featuring Figo, Raúl, David Beckham, Roberto Carlos amongst others, and they also got Zinedine Zidane.

Real Madrid won La Liga in 2000-01 and 2002-03 but with the arrival of Ronaldinho in 2003 another golden period began at Camp Nou and Barcelona won two consecutive Ligas in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

In 2006, Barça also won their second Champions League beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Stade de France in Paris.

In 2006-07 and 2007-08, FC Barcelona under Frank Rijkaard lost their way and the Liga went to Real Madrid.

In 2008, the young and inexperienced Pep Guardiola took over a Barcelona side that was soon to be led by a young Leo Messi with a support comprising some of the finest players in the world, including Xavi, Iniesta, Piqué and Busquets amongst others.

In 2009, Guardiola's Barcelona won La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and their third Champions League against Manchester United at Wembley in the 2008-09 season and by Christmas, they had also won the Spanish Supercopa, the European Super Cup and the FIFA Clubs World Cup becoming the first side to win all six possible trophies in a calendar year.

Along the way, there was a notable 2-6 victory in El Clásico over Real Madrid, which was followed a season later with another 5-0 win.

As a result, according to IFFHS, FC Barcelona officially became the best club of the first decade of the 21st century.

Mourinho, Messi and Cristiano

In the hope of fighting back against Barcelona dominance in 2010, Florentino Pérez appointed Jose Mourinho as a coach and with a team led by Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid were back giving an impression of arrogance and superiority.

Mourinho famously hit Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova in the face before a Clásico and was filmed waiting for a referee in the car park after a particularly close match.

Pouting Cristiano showed his muscles and made animal noises to the cameras at every opportunity and also claimed that everyone is jealous of him because he's rich, talented and handsome.

The Mourinho period brought a Liga in 2012 but made Real Madrid few friends particularly when contrasted with the courtesy and intelligence of Guardiola and the mild-mannered solidarity of Leo Messi.

Since Guardiola's departure in 2012 and Mourinho's move back to Chelsea a year later, the press conferences of the clubs' respective coaches have much more civilized.

During the past few seasons under Luis Enrique and Zidane, both sides have won a Liga, a Champions League and a FIFA Clubs World Cup in recent seasons and the sensation is that they are extremely evenly matched.

However, El Clásico remains to most closely fought grudge match in football and each game is a nail-biting decider watched by millions of fans around the world.

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