Barcelona and Real Madrid have won 96 fixtures each in the history of the El Clasico and share one of the most intriguing rivalries in Europe. The head-to-head record between the two La Liga giants in El Clasico is a testament to the dominance that both Barcelona and Real Madrid have exerted over Spanish football for well over a century.
Along with Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the only clubs to have never been relegated from the Spanish top flight in the recorded history of La Liga. The two sides have played an astonishing 244 El Clasico fixtures in their history and are on an even footing at the moment.
The El Clasico rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid is legendary
Barcelona and Real Madrid's rivalry is a culmination of Spain's political and cultural history over the past several centuries. The Catalans have been engaged in a tumultuous tug-of-war with the Spanish capital for over a hundred years and El Clasico is the sporting personification of a fierce clash of cultures.
Barcelona emerged as a powerhouse in European football in the 1930s and became a strong symbol of Catalan identity and autonomy. This did not go down well with Spain's ruling class and Real Madrid became the antithesis to Barcelona's attempt to rule Spanish football.
The rivalry ventured in dangerous and life-threatening territories in 1943 in the Copa del Generalisimo semi-finals. Barcelona won El Clasico in the first leg by a margin of 3-0 and looked set to progress to the final of the competition.
What transpired in the second leg is now considered a massive turning point in El Clasico history. Real Madrid won the fixture 11-1 as Barcelona fans screamed in protest from Catalunya and rumours and legends of government intervention continue to this day.
According to several Barcelona and Real Madrid legends that were a part of the legendary fixture, the El Clasico rivalry that occupies the minds of Spanish football fans today emanated from that fateful day in 1943.
Several incidents over the years went on to define Barcelona's rivalry with Real Madrid. Los Blancos pipped Barcelona to the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano in the 1950s and won the first five European Cups as a result. Barcelona would struggle in both El Clasico and La Liga till the 1970s.
Johan Cruyff's arrival to La Liga would permanently transform the landscape of Spanish football. The Dutchman made Barcelona a powerful European force with his revolutionary 'Total Football' tactics and famously bagged a 5-0 El Clasico victory against Real Madrid in 1974.
Luis Figo's famous transfer to Real Madrid in 2000 started an ugly new chapter in the history of El Clasico. The Barcelona fanbase was furious with the Portuguese star's decision and extreme sections of the fanbase made their displeasure known with graphic displays during the El Clasico fixtures that followed.
The rivalry died down in the years that followed and Real Madrid's hold over La Liga was broken once again by Pep Guardiola's legendary Barcelona side. The arrival of Jose Mourinho took the El Clasico rivalry to spectacular new heights. Both sides boasted the best players in the world and El Clasico saw tense and intriguing battles on the pitch from 2011 to 2014.
The El Clasico rivalry has once again hit a trough in the proverbial see-saw of dominance between the two Spanish giants. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid are enduring phases of transition and are in the process of rebuilding their squads.
Lionel Messi has the highest number of goals in El Clasico history and has scored an astonishing 26 goals against Real Madrid. The Barcelona genius shared a legendary rivalry with former Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo for several years and the two modern-day stalwarts defined the fixture's most glorious era.
Real Madrid is currently in the ascendency as far as El Clasico is concerned and picked up a crucial victory in the fixture earlier this year as it marched to the La Liga title. With Lionel Messi in its ranks, however, Barcelona may well bounce back next season and give Real Madrid a run for its money yet again in El Clasico.
Also Read: La Liga 2019/20: Team of the seasonPublished 02 Aug 2020, 18:17 IST