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Barcelona vs. Real Madrid in 1982: The last overseas Clasico was in Venezuela

Representatives from Miami, Real Madrid and Barcelona officially announce El Clasico's arrival to Hard Rock Stadium come July.
A meeting between two of the most iconic clubs in the world meet again in the newest chapter of El Clasico.

The first Clasico to be played on U.S. soil, with La Liga rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona meeting at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on July 29, is sure to generate a lot more excitement than the only previous occasion when the two giants met on the other side of the Atlantic back in 1982.

The International Champions Cup (ICC) fixture on July 29 will be eagerly awaited by many fans in America and elsewhere, with local press in Spain already getting excited at the prospect.

But the news also led to recollections of a mostly forgotten clash in Venezuela in 1982. Madrid and Barca both took part in that summer's Copa Presidente de la Republica, held in the central city of Barquisimeto, and met in a third place playoff.

Both Madrid and Barca are likely to field strong teams in this year's game in Miami, with their stars having fewer international commitments this summer, though Cristiano Ronaldo and Toni Kroos will have recently returned from Confederations Cup duty in Russia with Portugal and Germany respectively; the final is on July 2.

The game in Miami is likely to be used as a means to prepare for the 2017-18 campaign and also to move closer to the clubs' fan bases in the U.S. market. There will also be extra focus around a first Clasico test for Luis Enrique's replacement as Barca manager, whoever that turns out to be.

The situation was quite different back in 1982. That was an end-of-season Clasico, which came as all the top international teams were getting ready for that summer's World Cup in Spain, and with new Barcelona signing Diego Maradona just arrived in Catalonia with his national side.

Veteran midfielder Vicente del Bosque was one of the few now widely recognisable names who featured for Madrid, along with the team's long-serving goalkeeper, then short-lived first team coach, Miguel Angel Remon.

Vicente del Bosque
Vicente del Bosque scored the winner for Real Madrid when they played Barcelona in Venezuela 35 years ago.

The Barca lineup included legendary Blaugrana captain Migueli, as well as Denmark international Allan Simonsen, who was set to be replaced by Maradona as one of the club's two international players and about to join Charlton Athletic in England.

The Madrid coach that evening was Luis Molowny, during a caretaker spell. Alfredo Di Stefano, who was about to take over the first team, was also present among the 7,000 crowd for an event broadcast live in Venezuela, but not in Europe. Udo Lattek was in charge of Barcelona, and had just led the team to the 1981-82 European Cup Winners' Cup.

Del Bosque scored the only goal, heading in a corner in the seventh minute. But the match never really sparked and short contemporary reports refer to a game that was "not too exciting".

The former Spain national coach recalled to AS on Friday the players were aware the trip was not the highest profile.

"The papers were full of news about Spain's preparation for the World Cup, and the arrival of Maradona with Argentina, having already signed for Barca," Del Bosque said. "We who went to Venezuela were really the back-ups."

A look back at the online archives of Mundo Deportivo finds the first seven pages were all devoted to Maradona's arrival in the country, with the Clasico match report on page nine. "The tour remains a sad one," lamented the headline above a piece which said the team's best performers were unheralded youngsters Salva, Valor and Clos.

Asked for his memories by AS this week, Barca winger Francisco "Lobo" Carrasco recalled that conditions in June so near the equator were not ideal for a game of football.

"I remember the heat and the humidity in Venezuela," Carrasco, now a TV pundit, said. "Every hour and a half we had to have a shower in the hotel to freshen up."

The idea of a Barca vs. Madrid "friendly" in any environment might seem strange now, but Marca added up 37 non-competitive meetings over the years, with 31 taking place in the first half of the 20th Century. All but one in Spain.

The huge rivals also met in the very high profile preseason "Trofeo Carranza" tournament in Cadiz in 1959 and 1968. The last unofficial meeting was a 1-1 draw in September 1991 -- a "Canal Plus challenge" fixture organised to promote the pay-TV channel.

This summer's game in Miami looks likely to bring a whole other level of competitiveness. Even the team's Supercopa meetings in recent summers have been packed with incidents and neither side will want to lose face against their hated rivals.

Whatever happens in the Hard Rock Stadium on July 29 is certain to be remembered much more clearly than the last time they crossed the Atlantic together.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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