Barcelona v Real Madrid: Five greatest modern El Clasico matches
Robbie Purves | March 30, 2016
The two giants of Spanish football renew hostilities on Saturday, April 2nd as Barcelona look to extend their ninepoint lead at the top of La Liga
These bitter rivals meet on Saturday, marking the 263rd showdown between legendary rivals Barca and Real Madrid.
El Clasico has produced some memorable matches throughout the years, and here Coral football experts take a look at some of the best…
The Pig head (2002)
Real Madrid’s trip to the Nou Camp in 2002 was not Luis Figo’s first visit to Barcelona after his world record fee move from the club to arch-rivals Los Blancos but, is perhaps the most memorable meeting.
The noise on his first match back at his former stomping ground in 2000 was deafening. Screeching whistles and bellowing boos rung around the stadium that was littered with banners emblazoned with ‘Scum’ and ‘Judas’. Figo wisely gave the corner-taking duties to someone else that night.
Two years later, however, beer bottles, cigarette lighters and even a whisky bottle rained down on the Portuguese winger as he decided to take both corners and throw-ins.
Figo commented, “I was worried that some madman might lose his head”. Midway through the second-half, Madrid won a corner and amid a shower of flying objects he walked over to take it giving the fans an ironic thumbs up with a smile.
The missiles kept flying at Figo and the game was suspended for 20 minutes. During the break, a pig’s head was thrown onto the pitch, creating a defining image that symbolises the intensity and magnitude of the rivalry.
Ronaldinho’s standing ovation (2005)
While Figo was subjected to a hostile reception, three years earlier Ronaldinho received a different sort of attention from the rival crowd.
In a week in which the Brazilian was named European Footballer of the Year, the maestro humbled Madrid’s Galacticos in the Spanish capital as Barca emerged 3-0 victors.
Ronaldinho netted a second-half brace, each time cutting in from the left, beating right back Sergio Ramos with ease before slotting home past Iker Casillas.
So complete and stunning was Barca’s victory, that Ronaldinho was actually given a standing ovation by the Bernabeu after his second goal. A tribute only the great Diego Maradona had ever been granted previously as a Barcelona player.
Brazilian genius Ronaldinho sparked a power shift in the landscape of Spanish football. Los Blancos had won three Champions league titles from 1998 to 2002, however, Barca would go on to dominate.
Coral have Barcelona at 14-1 to win 3-0, a repeat of 2005.
A star is born (2007)
Believe it or not, there was a time when Lionel Messi was not the superstar we know today.
In 2006, the Argentine did enough to earn a Champions League winners’ medal, though he missed the latter stages of the tournament through injury as Ronadinho and Samuel Eto’o shone.
Messi’s breakthrough season came in 2006/07 and his El Clasico performance was his announcement to the world. The youngster became the first player in 12 years to hit a hat-trick in this fixture, pulling his side back three times to level the match, the last of which was a fantastic injury-time equaliser.
A point kept Real manager Fabio Capello in his job and inspired the team to go on and claim the league crown – David Beckham’s first title in Madrid.
Football masterclass (2010)
The supreme 5-0 mauling was an absolute masterclass and a high of Pep Guardiola’s historic managerial tenure at Barca.
Real manager Jose Mourinho had got off to the best start of any Los Blancos manager ever, but was helpless to stop his team’s symbolic thrashing.
Xavi Hernandez opened the scoring, while Messi exquisitely controlled the tempo and direction of the game in a false-nine role. The Argentine put in a superb performance in front of 98,000 adoring fans.
Pedro Rodriguez added a second goal and David Villa bagged a brace and substitute Jeffren Suarez scored a late fifth goal.
Barcelona were a team playing in perfect harmony and were ruthless against their bitter foes.
Ronaldo seals the title (2012)
Cristiano Ronaldo, the man that had been so often in Messi’s shadow, all but sealed the title for Madrid in 2012.
In Guardiola’s final season, Mourinho’s men ended a run of three successive titles for the Catalan club.
Madrid showed ruthless efficiency, thrashing the division and racking up a record goals total. However, as the teams went into April there was still a lingering feeling Barcelona were the better side, this was reinforced by their 3-1 against Real earlier in the season.
Ronaldo’s side emerged as 2-1 victors, beating their rivals in their own backyard.
Sami Khedira’s name was first on the scoresheet, then Alexis Sanchez leveled with 20 minutes left on the clock. The game’s defining moment came shortly after, with Ronaldo dribbling past goalkeeper Victor Valdes to finish, then told the crowd to calm themselves.
Ronaldo is 11/2 to score first against Barcelona this Saturday.