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Clasico classics

This weekend sees Real Madrid host Barcelona as they renew one of the most compelling rivalries in world football. Here, we take a look back at some of the other notable Clasico clashes.

Real Madrid 11-1 Barcelona (Copa del Generalisimo semi-final, 1942-43)

Real Madrid's biggest ever victory over Barcelona came in the semi-finals of the Copa del Generalisimo, as the Copa del Rey was known at the time, and with it came controversy that lingers on to this day.

Barcelona had won the first leg 3-0 at their Les Corts ground, and the feeling in Madrid was that the home supporters had been too fervent in expressing their Catalan pride by offering a hostile welcome to the visiting players. This was a time of great tension - matches between the two clubs became "a re-enactment of the Spanish Civil War", Phil Ball writes in Morbo - and it did not help that several General Franco cohorts were present for the Barca exhibition, including Antonio Barroso y Sanchez-Guerra - a senior member of the regime - and Jose Moscardo Ituarte - the military governor of Toledo who had sided with the Nationalist army.

It's claimed Franco had been sufficiently enraged by the embarrassment the capital club had suffered to instruct Spain's director of state security to issue a 'warning' to the Barcelona players ahead of the second leg in Madrid, although two members of the Barca team - Domenec Balmanya and Josep Escola - denied as much in later interviews. The archives certainly show that Barcelona were fined for their fans' behaviour, specifically the "intense coercion and hostility shown to the opposing team".

Whatever the truth of the matter, Barca were not the same team in the second leg and the turnaround was remarkable: Madrid opened the scoring in the fifth minute and ran up a further ten goals before Barcelona grabbed an 89th-minute consolation. Madrid therefore progressed to the final 11-4 on aggregate, but were ultimately defeated by Atletico de Bilbao 1-0 after extra time.

Real Madrid 5-0 Barcelona (La Liga, 1953-54)

At the start of the 1953-54 season, Real Madrid had gone two decades without adding to their two league titles. However, with the controversial arrival of Alfredo Di Stefano the previous month - discussed in depth in this week's Rewind article - things were about to change.

On October 25, in his first game against Barcelona - a side that had won the league title four times in the previous six seasons - Di Stefano was the star attraction in a 5-0 victory. He opened the scoring from close range on ten minutes, setting up what the ABC newspaper called "a rugged half-hour of inspiration" as a quick-fire double from Roque Olsen and a further effort from Luis Molowny made it 4-0 before the break. Di Stefano then completed the rout five minutes from time, and Madrid had witnessed the birth of its greatest ever star. "Molowny, Olsen and Di Stefano showed what football's all about: a game for men where you use your muscles but which is nevertheless a thing of fantasy, wonderful improvisation and intuition," ABC continued.

The paper labelled it "a blow to the prestige of Barcelona" and said the Blaugrana would be seeking revenge at their Les Corts stadium to re-establish their "ultimate supremacy". They did indeed redress the balance on home soil in February - Di Stefano scored the opener but Barcelona emerged 5-1 winners - yet it was not enough. Di Stefano was to end the season as the league's top scorer with 29 goals, and Madrid were to finish it atop the table to end their long wait for glory.

Real Madrid 2-2 Barcelona; Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid (European Cup first round, 1960-61)

When the European Cup began life in the 1955-56 season, it was Real Madrid who became its first kings, and they soon established a stranglehold on the competition that they would not relinquish for half a decade. On their way to their fifth successive triumph in 1960, they demolished Barcelona 6-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

However, in the first round of the 1960-61 season, Barca were to have their revenge as they edged out their rivals 4-3 on aggregate and brought an end to their continental domination.

Barcelona had by that stage moved into the Camp Nou, at a cost £1,750,000. The move had plunged the club into £1,000,000 of debt, and they were reliant on their players to ensure the gamble paid off. "We are at the mercy of the footballers' feet," secretary Juan Gich said. "Our future depends on a pass from Kubala to Suarez, if you like."

Barcelona, having committed to the stadium move in 1954, had been forced to play catch-up. They were boosted by the appointment of the soon-to-be legendary coach Helenio Herrera in 1958, as he guided a hugely talented squad featuring Laszlo Kubala, Luis Suarez, Sandor Kocsis and Zoltan Czibor to league titles in 1958-59 and 1959-60 as well as the 1958 Fairs Cup. Following the aforementioned 6-2 aggregate defeat to Madrid and having had disagreements with the board, though, Herrera was dismissed and replaced in June 1960 by the former Juventus and PSV Eindhoven coach Ljubisa Brocic.

The change of coach ultimately proved unwise, but in November that year he recorded a victory that would be savoured by the Barcelona fans for many years to come. Having been drawn against Madrid in the European Cup first round, they fell behind on 90 seconds in the first leg in Madrid to an Enrique Mateos goal, but Suarez equalised on 27 minutes. The legendary Francisco Gento restored Madrid's advantage but, two minutes from time, English referee Arthur Ellis awarded a controversial penalty and Suarez was able to make it 2-2.

After that result, Barca were installed as favourites for the return leg on home turf, and 125,000 fans packed into their stadium in keen anticipation. As it happened, Madrid were far superior on the night, but luck was on Barca's side. Reg Leafe, another English referee, had to face off an angry mob when he denied the visitors three goals for offside, and he threatened to send off midfielder Luis del Sol if the Madrid protests did not cease.

Barca took the lead when Ramon Alberto Villaverde's shot deflected into the net ten minutes before the break, and Brazilian forward Evaristo then doubled the advantage on 81 minutes despite the hosts having to fend off attack after attack. Canario pulled a goal back for Real Madrid with four minutes to spare, but they were unable to complete the comeback. Club president Santiago Bernabeu was left to curse the referee, whom he labelled "Barcelona's best player".

Barca, for whom the financial benefits of the victory were described as "incalculable" in The Guardian, reached the European Cup final that year but were ultimately undone by Benfica. Madrid would not win the competition again until 1966.

Real Madrid 0-5 Barcelona (La Liga, 1973-74)

For a time, the matches between Madrid and Barca were distinctly tight affairs. From 1966 onwards, only one of the teams' meetings in all competitions - a 2-0 win for Madrid in the 1969-70 Copa del Rey - had been settled by more than a single goal. It was all to change in dramatic fashion in February 1974, when Johan Cruyff - in his debut season with Barcelona - ran riot at the Bernabeu.

The Dutchman provided three assists and a fine solo goal as Barca maintained their seven-point lead at the top of the table while Madrid, managed by Luis Molowny after the departure of the great Miguel Munoz the previous month, dropped to ninth.

The report in the pro-Madrid ABC newspaper acknowledged the Barcelona "exhibition" in its banner headline and added: "It's hard to judge a coach on how he's planned to play a game when he's facing a team so fine-tuned it is as if they are a piano being played by the prodigious hands of Arthur Rubinstein. It goes without saying that the team of these heavenly sounds today is Barcelona." Barcelona went on to win the title for the first time since 1960.

Madrid were to gain a measure of revenge as they beat their rivals 4-0 in the Copa del Rey final in June, though Barca had been significantly handicapped. The rules at the time prevented foreigners from taking part in the cup but, even so, Cruyff was away with Netherlands at the 1974 World Cup. Also there was the absence of Rinus Michels, the Barcelona and Netherlands coach, who was having to make frequent plane journeys between West Germany and Catalonia to balance his responsibilities. "The circumstances were very peculiar," Michels said during the four-day spell between the Copa del Rey final defeat and the victory over Brazil that sent Netherlands through to the World Cup final. "They wanted me there, not so much as coach - because I could not be there with them all the time - but more as a mascot."

Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid (La Liga, 1993-94)

In January 1994, Barcelona recorded their biggest victory over Real Madrid at the Camp Nou since the 1944-45 season. They had inflicted the same at the Bernabeu a couple of decades earlier, as detailed above, but the fans were still awaiting a demolition in the age of colour TV. With Pep Guardiola pulling the strings and Romario leading the rampage, they delivered it in style.

Romario netted a hat-trick, beginning the rout with a goal that saw him memorably leave Spain defender Rafael Alkorta for dead; a sublime Ronald Koeman free-kick and a late effort from Ivan Iglesias then added to a scoreline that would linger long in the memory. "I hope we don't have to wait so long for the next 5-0," Barca coach Johan Cruyff said afterwards.

Real Madrid had made their worst start to the season for 40 years, but El Pais still felt sufficiently moved to label it a "mythical result", and the pressure on manager Benito Floro, who had earlier received the vote of confidence, predictably increased. "In Madrid, the coach has always been the one responsible," Floro protested in the aftermath of the result, "the man to blame for everything that has happened in the past four years."

Luckily for Floro, Madrid were five billion pesetas (£25 million) in debt and so sacking him was problematic. That factor may well have influenced the thoughts of one board member quoted in the press after the defeat: "There are players in the squad who are very well paid but not committed, and changing the coach is not going to make them productive."

Floro thus clung onto his job, but not for long: in March, after a 2-1 defeat at Lerida, Madrid managed to scrape together the pennies to make their sixth sacking of the new decade, and Vicente Del Bosque was installed as caretaker.

Real Madrid 5-0 Barcelona (La Liga, 1994-95)

Almost a year to the day after they were tormented at the Camp Nou, Real Madrid inflicted due revenge at the Bernabeu. Though Los Blancos had not added to their haul of 25 league titles since 1990, Jorge Valdano had taken charge of the team and there was a renewed sense of optimism. They were to end the first half of the season as winter champions when they demolished the defending champions 5-0 and, once more, a South American striker would take the headlines.

Ivan Zamorano was the inspiration this time around, the Chile international scoring a first-half hat-trick before Barca striker Hristo Stoichkov helped Madrid on their way by earning a dismissal for a stamp on Quique Flores on the brink of half-time. Luis Enrique extended the hosts' advantage on 68 minutes, diverting home after Zamorano hit the post, and the Chilean then laid on the final goal for Jose Amavisca two minutes later.

For Michael Laudrup, it was quite the triumph: he had featured for Barcelona in their 5-0 victory and, after being sold following a fall-out with Johan Cruyff, represented Madrid in their own 5-0 win. For Romario, meanwhile, the turnaround was damning. The striker had shown a lack of commitment that season, angering Cruyff, and was offloaded back to Flamengo just days after the result. "Our players have to ask themselves if they are still hungry for success," Cruyff said. "If they aren't, maybe it's time they got out."

Madrid would go on to win their 26th title that season, while Laudrup walked away with his fifth La Liga medal in succession.

Barcelona 0-2 Real Madrid; Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (Champions League semi-final, 2001-02)

The 2002 Champions League semi-final was dubbed the 'Duel of the Century' by the Spanish press, and was said to have attracted a global audience of 500 million, but the contest was all but over after the first leg. With Barcelona duo Xavi and Rivaldo unavailable, Zinedine Zidane opened the scoring at the Camp Nou nine minutes after the break, and Steve McManaman made it 2-0 in injury time.

Madrid, seeking their ninth European title, had one foot in the final at Hampden Park, and the bulk of the drama at the Bernabeu the following week came when a car bomb from Basque separatist group ETA went off near the ground four hours before kick-off, collapsing part of the ceiling in the trophy room. Sixteen people were injured and there was talk the game would be suspended, but the decision was taken to proceed.

A 20-yard Raul effort duly extended Madrid's advantage in the first half and, though Ivan Helguera diverted into his own net shortly after the break, Barca were unable to escape their expected fate and went out 3-1 on aggregate. Barca coach Carles Rexach offered no excuses. "We've seen two great games," he said. "The bomb had no effect on the team - everybody knew there were no victims and we concentrated on the game."

Barcelona 0-0 Real Madrid (La Liga, 2002-03)

Though it produced no goals, the November meeting at the Camp Nou is one of the most memorable of all, for it was the match in which Luis Figo was presented with a suckling pig's head for daring to make the move from Barcelona to Madrid.

The porcine projectile was far from the only object hurled by the 98,000 Barcelona fans as Figo repeatedly took unhurried corners in front of his former acolytes, and the game had to be briefly suspended on 75 minutes. "This was a disgrace to Spanish football," Madrid director general Jorge Valdano said. "They broke the windows of our coach. The abuse started as soon as we arrived. This has gone beyond the limits of rivalry."

The game - and the events leading up to it - have been discussed in an earlier Rewind article.

Real Madrid 4-1 Barcelona (La Liga, 2007-08)

Despite a poor run of form in February and March, Real Madrid had the title tied up after their first fixture of May 2008. Their next game, on May 7, was against Barcelona at the Bernabeu and the consequences were significant: Frank Rijkaard's men would have to do the pasillo.

The pasillo tradition dictates that, when a team have won the title, the next side to play the newly-crowned champions will wait for them on the pitch, guard of honour-style, in recognition of their achievement. It was not the first pasillo between these two great rivals - Madrid had enjoyed the privilege in 1988, and Barcelona in 1991 - but that did nothing to lessen its significance. As Sid Lowe wrote in The Guardian: "Barca became so haunted by the nightmare that they tried to throw the league so early as to avoid it."

On the day of the game, actors wearing Barcelona shirts lined up outside the Santiago Bernabeu metro chanting "¡Vamos, vamos!", while "I saw the pasillo" T-shirts were on show.

For Barcelona, the pasillo was not the only humiliation of the night: Real Madrid ran up a four-goal lead through Raul, Arjen Robben, Gonzalo Higuain and a Ruud van Nistelrooy penalty, the only consolation coming from Thierry Henry in the 86th minute when all hope was extinguished. The victory put Real Madrid 17 points clear of Barcelona with two games to play and condemned their rivals to third place. The front cover of the Barcelona-based Sport newspaper the following day was blank bar the following words: "Tragic End: You have dishonoured the Barcelona shirt".

Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona (La Liga, 2008-09)

Ahead of the Clasico of December 2008, Bernd Schuster had signed his own death warrant as Real Madrid boss by describing victory at the Camp Nou as "impossible". He was duly axed, and Juande Ramos stepped into the breach, but the new man was unable to prevent Barcelona winning 2-0. Barca opened up a 12-point gap that night and added weight to Schuster's belief that "it is their year".

Under Ramos, though, Madrid enjoyed a stunning revival: they won 17 and drew one of their next 18 league games and narrowed the gap to four points ahead of the Clasico at the Bernabeu in May. "If I was a Barcelona player, I'd be really scared," Madrid star Marcelo warned.

When Gonzalo Higuain headed Madrid into a 14th-minute lead, mission impossible was threatening to become a reality, but Thierry Henry equalised four minutes later and from then on it was Barca's night. Puyol made it 2-1 on 20 minutes, Lionel Messi added a third on 36 and, although Ramos headed home to make it 3-2 after the break, Henry swiftly netted his second to restore the two-goal cushion. Messi stylishly completed a brace of his own with 15 minutes left, and Gerard Pique put deserved gloss on the scoreline with a well-taken effort.

Marca acknowledged the "humiliation" and said Barcelona had "dispelled any doubt as to the worthy winners of the league". Juande Ramos concurred: "It leaves a bad taste because we have lost the game and we had held high hopes for the title, but I acknowledge that Barcelona were superior and deserve it. I think Barcelona are a cut above." Florentino Perez returned as Madrid president in the summer, and Ramos' contract was not renewed.

Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid (La Liga, 2010-11)

Barcelona have dealt out many footballing lessons since the appointment of Pep Guardiola in 2008, but their Clasico victory of November 2010 may well go down in history as the acme of their attempts to achieve football perfection.

Jose Mourinho, whose Inter side had eliminated Barcelona on their way to Champions League success earlier in the year, had made the best start of any Madrid coach in history, but he was left powerless as his star-studded team were ripped to shreds at the Camp Nou.

Xavi and Pedro made it 2-0 by half-time before a swift double from David Villa after the break and a last-minute goal from Jeffren completed a scoreline that did nothing to flatter the victors. "The collective crushed the individual," El Mundo reported. "The 'playing machine' destroyed the 'killing machine' that Jose Mourinho was trying to build."

Plaudits poured in from across the globe, and even Jose Mourinho managed to muster some magnanimity. "It is a historically bad result for us," Mourinho said. "It is sad for us but it is not difficult for me to swallow. It is easy for me to take because it is fair. We played very, very badly and they were fantastic."

With thanks to Phil Ball and Eduardo Alvarez


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