The Tuesday 10: Memorable El Clasico clashes

Dan Ross runs down 10 El Clasico clashes from the last 25 years which make Saturday night’s offering look frankly dull...

1.Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona, 2009

This astonishing result from last season saw all-conquering Barcelona humiliate Los Merengues in their own back yard, firing a record-breaking six goals past Iker Casillas and making it look easy.

Madrid had ridden the coat-tails of Los Cules admirably before this one - going on an 18 match unbeaten run that included 17 wins - but the game, billed as a ‘title-decider’ was no ‘match’ it was a sublime demonstration, a point made emphatically.

When you consider that Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring, the feat is even more impressive. But the excitement for Los Blancos was brief.

Thierry Henry snatched away the lead several minutes later, before goals for Carles Puyol and Leo Messi ensured a comfortable 3-1 lead for Barca at the break.

The second half was a carbon copy of the first. Real came out fighting, Sergio Ramos reducing the defecit to a single goal before Henry cruelly struck again.

The Frenchman’s effort paved the way for Messi to bag a brace and Gerard Pique to complete the rout that left Madrid and the whole of Europe in stunned silence.

2.Barcelona 3-3 Real Madrid, 2007

This end-to-end match had everything and was a perfect game for the neutral.

It was also a case of a team against an individual, as Fabio Capello’s tactically supreme Real Madrid only failed in one aspect – keeping Messi shackled.

Los Merengues took the lead on three occasions, with Ruud Van Nistelrooy netting an impressive brace, but the diminutive Argentinian repeatedly dragged Barca back.

The then-19-year-old bagged a hat-trick in injury time as his one-man crusade earned his side a point. Messi’s final goal was one that truly announced his arrival on the world stage, collecting, skipping through several challenges and firing into the bottom corner.

Though a victory was snatched from their grasp, this game proved to be a turning point for Real, who went on a fine winning run to secure their 30th La Liga title in an exciting end to the season.

While Barca’s fortunes headed in the opposite direction, this game was also a turning point for Messi – a ‘coming of age’ if you will. Since that showcase his star has risen inexorably, and at only 21 it would be a surprise if it did not continue to do so.

3.Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid, 2002

Dubbed the ‘Derby of Shame’ by the Spanish media, Luis Figo's return to his old home typified the animosity between the Spanish giants.

Figo had been a fan favourite during his five-year spell at Barca, and his world-record £37m transfer to Real Madrid in 2000 felt like a slap in the face for many Cules. So, on his return, they decided to fight back. Literally.

Figo ran a gauntlet every time he went to take a corner as his former fans hurled torrents of abuse. And missiles.

It took Figo several minutes to take the set pieces as the Catalan crowd launched all manner of objects including a whiskey bottle, beer cans and a lighter, although the match achieved notoriety for one incident in particular.

The amount of projectiles hurled at Figo while he jogged over to take a corner resulted in referee Medina Cantalejo suspending the game for sixteen minutes to "let things calm down".

Among the objects photographed on the pitch was a 'cochinillo' - a suckling pig's head – grimacing up from the turf. The image ensured that nobody remembered the result and became synonymous with the intense atmosphere at ‘El Clasico’.

Of course the pig’s head couldn’t have been thrown by Barca fans, as director José María Minguella proved: "We don't even eat cochinillo in Barcelona", he said. Conclusive…

4.Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona, 2005

A match perhaps better known as ‘Ronaldinho’s Clasico’. The buck-toothed Brazilian was in imperious form, scoring twice as Barca thumped Real 3-0 at the Bernabeu.

It was a magical individual display from start to finish from the man that Florentino Perez once described as ‘too ugly to market’.

Another Real reject, Samuel Eto’o, put the Catalans in front, turning smartly on the edge of the area before poking the ball past Iker Casillas, but there was no doubt as to whose show this was.

‘Dinho’s first was sublime. Collecting the ball on the halfway line, he glided past Sergio Ramos, cut inside Ivan Helguera and finished with aplomb.

The second was equally classy. Sprinting into the area, Ronaldinho feinted to cut inside Ramos before bursting past him to finish at the near post.

The Bernabeu rising to laud a goal from a talented Brazilian is nothing new. That the player in question played for Madrid’s bitter rivals – unheard of.

Ronaldinho was untouchable that year, and Barca went on to win an impressive league and Champions League double.

5.Real Madrid 4-1 Barcelona 2008

One for the Madridistas to savour. A win in their previous match meant that Real had secured their 31st La Liga title heading in to El Clasico, and as Spanish football rules dictate, the Barcelona squad were forced to perform the guard of honour to welcome the newly crowned champions onto the pitch.

The tension was palpable, the humiliation evident as the Blaugrana reluctantly applauded the enemy onto the pitch, and the embarrassment was not to end there. Madrid went on to hammer their rivals 4-1 in a sumptuous performance.

Real looked a different class, frustrating Barcelona as they dominated possession with elegant passing. A first-time finish from Captain and talisman Raul fittingly opened the scoring, and an Arjen Robben header put Real two up before the interval.

A smart Gonzalo Higuain finish and a penalty for Ruud van Nistelrooy sealed Barca’s degrading defeat, with only a late Thierry Henry goal for consolation. A true statement from worthy champions.

6.Real Madrid 4-2 Barcelona, 2005

April 2005 saw the game of the Galacticos.

Real coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo chose to play an attacking triumvirate of Raúl, Ronaldo and Michael Owen (remember him?), and his decision paid dividends as los Merengues beat Barcelona in this six-goal-thriller to keep their dreams of the La Liga title alive.

All three of the triple threat got their names on the scoresheet, but it was another football luminary, Zinedine Zidane that got the ball rolling with an emphatic back post header after only seven minutes.

David Beckham was key to the Real performance, and it was the first of his two assists that saw Ronaldo bag a second for los Blancos, with another back-post header leaving Barca reeling.

The Blaugrana responded well with a Samuel Eto’o striker reducing the defecit, but Raul stole in at the near post to add a third moments before half-time.

Owen made it four, latching onto Beckham’s 65th minute through ball and beating Victor Valdes.

A spectacular free-kick from Ronaldinho ten minutes later failed to spark a Barca recovery and ruin the Real party, though the brilliant Brazilian did inspire Barca to their first La Liga title of the 21st century.

7.FC Barcelona 3 - 2 Real Madrid, 1987

Back in the 80s, before he was famous for crisp ads and spending his Saturday nights attempting to bleed the stones that are Messrs Hanson and Shearer, Gary Lineker played football.

And he was good. So good, in fact, that his 38 goals in 52 games for Everton prompted Spanish giants Barcelona to come calling.

As you can imagine, it was a tough decision. Minutes later he was knocking them in for the Blaugrana, too, notching an impressive 21 goals in 41 games to endear himself to the Nou Camp faithful.

But it was, unsurprisingly, this particular match that made Lineker a cult hero at Barca as Leicester’s favourite son scored a hat-trick against arch-rivals Real.

Lineker’s two identikit far-post knock-ins saw Barca 2-0 up after 5 minutes, and his fine clipped finish after racing onto a long goal-kick completed his 47 minute hat-trick.

While Jorge Valdano and a Hugo Sanchez penalty provided a nervy last ten minutes for Barca, they held on for the three points, and with Lineker averaging almost one in two up front Barcelona went on to win the UEFA Cup and the Copa del Rey in his time at the club.

8.Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid, 1994

The New Year of 1994 was celebrated in style in Catalonia, with Barca’s spectacular ‘manita’ (‘little hand’ – a goal per finger) against Real Madrid.

The Blaugrana were coached by Dutch legend Johann Cruyff, a man who once declared that he could never play for Real Madrid because he couldn't star for a team 'associated with fascism', and who, as a player, had masterminded a 5-0 defeat of Real at the Bernabeu 20 years previously.

Cruyff, as you can imagine, was far from a popular fellow in Madrid before this match in ‘94; these comments from his playing days were dragged back up to add a little extra spice to the always politically tempestuous ‘Clasico’, and his face was a constant reminder of that humiliating defeat. He could do nothing to make Madridistas hate him more.

Until he did it again. His ‘Dream Team’ romped to a phenomenal 5-0 win at the Nou Camp, with Brazilian hitman Romario scoring a fine treble, including a goal that will forever be engrained in Cules memories, the ‘cola de vaca’ (cow’s tail) move that saw him sweep the ball around Alkorta and score.

Madrid’s failure to keep Romario at bay would eventually aid Barca’s title chances, as the Blaugrana finished level with Deportivo La Coruna on 56 points, but obtained the trophy on goal difference.

Benito Floro’s Merengues is also a moment that has become immortalised in Blaugrana memories, particularly the ‘cola de vaca’ (cow’s tail) move that saw him sweep the ball through the defence and prod it past the helpless keeper.

9.Real Madrid 5-0 Barcelona, 1995

Twelve months later, and La Liga saw an eerie reversal. Another ‘manita’, another hat-trick, and almost exactly the same date in January. But this time the boot was on the other foot. Namely, that of Ivan Zamorano.

‘Bam-Bam’ tore Barcelona apart, scoring three times in the opening 40 minutes to bring the Bernabeu to its feet and the Barca keeper, Carles Busquets (father of current Blaugrana star Sergio), to his knees.

Madrid were leading as early as five minutes in, an explosive left-footed strike from Zamorano finding the top corner from an angle. He showed strength and composure to net his second 15 minutes later, and rounded off his impressive feat with a close-range knock-in before half-time.

The Chilean international was also directly involved in Madrid’s other strikes, Luis Enrique (future Barcelona captain) netting Zamorano’s rebounded effort, and Jose Amavisca bagging an unmissable 5th from ‘Bam-Bam’s’ fine assist.

The game was also notable for the red card received by Barca’s Bulgarian international Hristo Stoichkov for a nasty stamp, and for the presence in the victorious Madrid side of Michael Laudrup, a player who had inspired Barca to the famous win a year earlier.

But this game was all about Ivan. Jorge Valdano’s Merengues went on to win the league title, with ‘Ivan the Terrible’ helping himself to 27 goals and the Pichichi Trophy.

10.Barcelona 0-2 Real Madrid, 2002 (Champions League Semi Final, First Leg)

Billed as the ‘Duel of the Century’ by the Spanish media, this clash had a European twist in 2002 when they met in the first leg of the semi final of the Champions League. With an estimated worldwide audience of over 500 million, ‘El Clasico’ was given a stage and an importance the likes of which had never been seen before.

Though neither side was particularly set-up to attack, both played their part in defying the critics to produce a wonderfully open match.

Barcelona arguably outplayed their rivals and had the majority of the opportunities – Patrick Kluivert squandered a good chance and Luis Enrique headed chances wide and against the crossbar - but it was Real Madrid that moved one step closer to the final and their record novena (ninth European trophy).

It was Real’s £48m world record signing Zinedine Zidane, a man with a penchant for producing the spectacular on the big occasions, who silenced the home fans with the opener - a sumptuous lob over Barca custodian Roberto Bonano.

Then in injury-time, substitute Steve McManaman’s opportunistic run and fine clipped finish sealed a magnificent win for los Merengues.

Madrid made it to the final, defeating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 with one of the greatest goals of all time, scored by – you guessed it – Zizou.

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