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Guide to El Clasico

Kevin Morillo | 24 October 2018

The biggest fixture in Club Football

No game in world football captures the attention quite like El Clasico. Barcelona and Real Madrid have met 237 times, and last season’s meeting at Camp Nou drew a crowd of 97,939 fans.

The first ever meeting between the pair came in 1902, in a Copa Coronacion game. Barcelona pulled off a 3-1 win, and the tone was set with a partisan atmosphere amongst the crowd. Click here to find this season’s odds.

A myriad of wonderful players have put their stamp on the fixture for both sides, across the decades.

For Barca, the modern hero is Lionel Messi. The record goalscorer in this fixture with 26 strikes, he follows a long line of Catalan heroes, like 1940s goal machine Cesar and Eulogio Martinez in the early 1960s.

Real have two men sharing the top marksman podium in this fixture – Alfredo Di Stefano and Cristiano Ronaldo – with 18 apiece.

The biggest ever Clasico victory belongs to Los Blancos. Real pulled off an astonishing 11-1 win in the 1943 Copa del Rey.

A handful of big names have crossed the divide. The most controversial was Luis Figo’s 2000 move directly from Barca to Real. The most recent man to go directly between the clubs was Javier Saviola in 2007.

Experiencing El Clasico

The cauldron atmosphere of clashes between these sides reflects just how big of a game this is.

Most infamous of all was the 2002 game, where furious Barca fans threw a pig’s head onto the pitch in protest of Figo’s departure to their bitter rivals.

Despite the Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabeu being huge stadia, this is a notoriously tricky fixture to get tickets for – especially in the most fervent areas of the ground.

Viewing figures for last season estimated a staggering 450 million people around the world had tuned into this fixture, including over 200 million from Asia.

Goals, Cards and Pigs Heads: The Most Iconic El Clasico Matches

There have been a host of incredible Barcelona v Real Madrid games down the years, some of which have further stoked the intense rivalry.

In 1953, Barca fans were already enraged by Madrid stealing transfer target Di Stefano from under their noses. They were even less happy two weeks later, as he netted twice against them in a 2-1 win – en route to Los Blancos winning their first La Liga title in 21 years.

Fast forward to 1987, and Englishman Gary Lineker was bringing joy to Barca fans, netting twice in the first five minutes.

More recently, it’s been all about Messi v Ronaldo.

The Argentine ace bagged a hat-trick in an unforgettable 4-3 win in the capital back in March 2014. As for CR7, he netted the only goal in the pair’s blood-and-thunder Copa del Rey Final of 2011, with a sublime headed goal past Barca keeper Jose Manuel Pinto.

But there have been more than just great goals in this often fiery fixture.

One especially fractious clash came in 2011’s Spanish Super Cup.

Three red cards were dished out, before Real boss poked then-Barca assistant Tito Vilanova in the eye. The Catalan side won, but the biggest action happened off the ball.

British Influence

Right now, Real’s star man is none other than Gareth Bale. But the Welsh wizard is far from the only British player to have made his mark with Los Blancos.

David Beckham bagged Real’s Player of the Year award for 2005, and won the title in the 2006-07 campaign. But the big move to the Bernabeu hasn’t worked out for all the Brits who’ve joined Real.

Jonathan Woodgate managed just 14 appearances in two seasons, conceding an own goal and being sent off on his debut.

Barca haven’t snapped up stars from these shores too often, though Mark Hughes and Lineker both enjoyed decent spells in Catalonia.

There could be a new English star on the horizon, though, with teenage prodigy Marcus McGuane now a fixture of the Barcelona B side.

Lionel Messi

Arguably the greatest footballer of all time, the Argentine magician has produced many of his finest performances in this fiery fixture.

Messi has bagged 26 goals and 14 assists in his 37 El Clasico outings. Amongst those was a stunning hat-trick in Barca’s 4-3 win at the Bernabeu in March 2014.

With Barca 2-1 down at the 40-minute mark, Messi grabbed an incredible trio of goals to secure victory in one of the best ever clashes between the sides.

But his pedigree in this fixture goes back much further.

Back in 2007, then 19-year-old Messi shot to worldwide fame by netting three times against the capital club in a 3-3 draw. His final goal came via a mazy dribble and inch-perfect finish in the 91st minute.

Nobody does it like Leo.

Pure Fantasy [A Combined XI]

Throughout history, many of the world’s greatest ever players have worn the shirt of one – and occasionally both – of these clubs.

With such a rich history on both sides, the Coral News Team have put together an all-time starting XI across the two teams.

In goal, it’s all about Real’s Iker Casillas, who won the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper award four years on the spin.

At left-back, free-kick wizard Roberto Carlos makes the cut, with Dani Alves on the other side. Three time Champions League winner Carlos Puyol is in at centre-back with Real legend Fernando Hierro.

In midfield, it’s a trio of Zinedine Zidane, Andres Iniesta and the enigmatic Johan Cruyff who spent five magical years at Camp Nou from 1973-78.

That leaves a front three of Alfredo Di Stefano, alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Big match previews, betting tips and transfer news – Coral has it all.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing