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The Best El Clásico’s Since 2000

Arguably the fiercest football rivalry in Europe, the meeting of Spanish footballing giants FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is referred to as El Clásico (The Classic in Catalan). 

Among the most viewed sporting events worldwide, El Clásico is regarded for its intensity; featuring some of, if not the best players in world football, both teams often play their best available squads and the pressure is tuned to the max. 

Here’s 5 of the just some of the iconic El Clásico’s in the last 20 years

Barcelona 5 – 0 Real Madrid, 29th Nov. 2010

Starting the list off with a bang, and a game Real Madrid fans would rather not be reminded of. One of the first of many meetings between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi featured the typical greats on either side, but on this occasion, Madrid was not ready for the Catalans.

Xavi opened the scoring in the tenth minute – a chip from a through ball that beat the offside trap – and the tone of the game was essentially set from there…

Madrid would launch the occasional attack, but it would be quickly shut down by the awaiting Barcelona defence.

Barcelona continued their onslaught, piecing apart Real’s defence with tiki-taka passing – each met with an ¡olé! from the home crowd.

 A cross from David Villa is converted by Pedro for Barca’s second. Some yellows come for Madrid, but the rest of the first half closes at 2-0. 

Within 2 minutes of the second half, they have a dangerous attack in Real’s box, and within 7 they have another. Messi lays David Villa through for Barca’s third 55” in, all but sealing Madrid’s fate. 

Barca aren’t done.

Three minutes later, Messi lays a gorgeous through ball again to Villa who converts for Barca’s fourth.

To top it all off, with 2 minutes left of injury time, Bojan makes a run into space, crossing low into the box for Jeffrén to make it 5.  

Real Madrid 2 – 1 Barcelona, 16th April 2014

A Copa del Rey final between the two Spanish giants.  Both Madrid and Barca came out of the gate looking seriously threatening. 

Within 5 minutes each had launched a dangerous run into the opposition box, Barca first, before Real pressed them continuously with attack after attack. 

Just before the 10-minute mark Isco tackles Dani Alves for the ball and begins a string of one-touch passes from their own final third; it’s Bale, then Benzema and to Di María within seconds, leaving the Barca defence sleeping as Di María squares up and slots it neatly between Jordi Alba’s legs – Pinto’s fingers brush the ball, but it’s too little, 1-0 Madrid.

Searching for an answer, Barca increases the pressure, mounting further attacks into Real Madrid’s final third; they get in the box often but just can’t convert. There’s your expected scuffs between players, and Ramos receives a signature yellow for contact. 

The remainder of the half ends with both teams pushing hard, Barca to equalise and Real to extend, but there’s nothing doing.  It takes until 69” in for a Barca corner to find Bartra in space for a gorgeous headed goal – flicked just out of reach of Casillas’ fingers – to make it 1-1. Barca are back in the game.

Both teams somehow up the pressure further, launching attack after attack and counter after counter – there’s not a moment of stagnant play, but again, no goals. That is until the defining moment of the match and one of the scorer’s career.

Gareth Bale receives the ball in his stride with Marc Bartra running to intercept. Bale, confident in his raw pace advantage, knocks the ball forward, 25ft into thin air and runs a wide line off the pitch around Bartra, beating him to the ball and slotting it between Pinto’s legs for Real’s second. Barca has no answer, and Real win the 2014 Copa del Rey. What a way to do it. 

Barcelona 3 – 2 Real Madrid (5-4 agg.), 17th August 2011

The 2011 Supercopa de España saw a double-billing of El Clásico in a competitive setting, silverware was again on the line and going into the second leg at 2-2 meant it was all to play for. 

Barca had the advantage though, playing with the home fans behind them is a special magic for moments like these.

Both legs featured the intensity we’ve come to expect from El Clásico by now, but the back-and-forth affair in the second leg paired with the stakes make it the standout.

The scoring opened within 15 minutes – a signature Messi through ball to Iniesta who chips a falling Casillas to make it 1-0. Madrid doesn’t take this lying down, of course, upping the intensity immediately.

Their next dangerous attack awards them a corner, the initial cross fails but the second meets Cristiano Ronaldo’s foot, tapping it in for 1-1. Gorgeous saves and defence from Casillas and the Barca back-line respectively keep both teams level, with Víctor Valdés making a key save after a Real counter-attack.

This is until the dying moments of the first half; Barca crosses, Pique passes the ball to Messi who runs it behind the Madrid defence and slots it over and across Casillas for a beautiful 2-1.

 The desperation for an equaliser is clear in Madrid’s play late in the second. Passes are less efficient and corners are disorganised, but they find a goal. A Real corner swings into the box, Benzema receives a headed pass and equalises for 2-2.

With extra time looming, Barca’s signature tiki-taka tears Madrid apart; Messi passes wide, Pedro crosses back to him and he volleys the ball hard past Casillas to make it 3-2, and the scoreline ends there. Barca are the victors

…this doesn’t stop Marcelo sliding Messi from the side and receiving a red thirty-three seconds before the game was due to end though. El Clásico, eh?

Real Madrid 4 – 2 Barcelona, 10th April 2005

Iconic both for the game and the players that took part, the second El Clásico of the 2005 La Liga season was Madrid’s turn for the glory, Barca having trounced them 3-0 at their last meeting. The line-ups were star-studded: among Barca’s squad were Van Bronckhorst, Puyol, Xavi, Ronaldinho, and Eto’o to name a few. 

Madrid had Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Beckham and Raúl, again just to name a few. 

A Zidane header opens the scoring for Madrid within 6” and it’s all guns blazing from then on. Attacks are continuously launched back and forth between teams, but it’s evidently Real’s game.

Beckham crosses from a dead ball into the box, meeting Ronaldo’s head for their second goal within 20”. Eto’o quickly gets a goal back after some lovely one-two’s, making things 2-1 after 28 minutes.

 The game gets rough from here as Barca fights hard to equalise and Real works their counter-attack to get a third.

Roberto Carlos launches a run, tapping the ball past Xavi and beating him to it, passing to Raúl who taps it in for their third just before the half ends.

Barca come out visibly frustrated but keen to come back, pressing hard from the outset; Real seem too much for them though, as their attacks come to nothing. The nail in the coffin arrives when Beckham fires a lofted-through ball over the top, landing squarely at Michael Owen’s feet – he comfortably slots it for 4.

The game is all over from there, but as some small consolation Barca is awarded a free kick in a dangerous area, Ronaldinho steps up and curls it around the wall into the top corner while a stunned Casillas can only stare.  Go watch it, it’s beautiful.

Real Madrid 3 – 3 10th March 2007

The game that made Real Madrid fans truly fear Messi, this league encounter in 2007 was a spellbinding affair.

The 06/07 La Liga season was one of the most thrilling seasons to date.

Both teams were firmly locked in a title battle, with the title going to Real Madrid in the end thanks to their head-to-head record against Barcelona.

Just 4 minutes in a hapless Thuram clearence fell to the feet of Van Nistelrooy… The absolute last player Barca would have wanted to see on the ball in their box.

As expected, ‘Van the Man’ easily slots home, as Real Madrid made a great start to their trip to the Nou Camp.

Just 6 minutes later, parity is restored.

A typical Barca breakaway, sees Eto’o find Lionel Messi who has so much space and time he could open up a small business before someone closed him down.

Taking a touch, La Pulga drives forward into the box and slots it past Casillas with his instep.

1-1, 10 minutes gone. What a start.

Then, almost right from kickoff a late Oleguer challenge sees a penalty awarded to Madrid, which Van Nistelrooy comfortably converts.

2-1 now. 12 minutes gone.

Barca had to pick themselves up again, and after a strong 15-minute period, they’d recover.

Deco receiving the ball on the wing, took it under control, and surged forward, to the edge of the Madrid box.

A layoff to Ronaldinho gave the Brazillian a chance to get into the box, where a quick one-two with Eto’o sees him with a shooting chance.

His shot forces a save, but Casillas can only parry it out to a lurking Messi, who has plenty of open net to aim for as he smashes it home on the half-volley.

2-2. What a half it had already been.

Both sides fashioned chances as the game took on a real end-to-end flow. Messi and Ronaldinho were combining brilliantly with each other, and both saw chances to give Barca the lead, but they would ultimately rue their squandered opportunities as they failed to edge ahead going into the break.

Their regret over a failure to convert chances would be compounded as Oleguer came in late on Gago, fouling him as Madrid looked to build an attack. He was already on a yellow from the earlier penalty, and the ref deemed the challenge enough to warrant a second yellow.

In the second half, the game had really simmered down to suit Madrid; Barcelona struggled to get a foothold with 10 men.

Awarded a dangerous Real Madrid free-kick out wide, Los Blancos sensed blood in the air.

It was a sweet delivery that swung over the Barca defender’s heads, flicked on by Sergio Ramos. The flick was perfect. Too perfect, as it looped in off the crossbar, stunning Valdes in goal. It’s an incredible header.

The game dragged on, Barca slowly running out of energy, the game looked to be petering out for a 3-2 Madrid victory.

As the game entered stoppage time, Ronaldinho found himself with the ball in the Madrid half. Holding Salgado off, he squeezed a gorgeous ball to Lionel Messi, who bursts forward, taking the ball in his stride.

Messi calmly beats one challenge, striding into the box and rifling a shot at goal. Casillas gets a hand on it, but it’s not enough.

Barca draw level, ending El Clásico with both teams level; neck and neck in the title race.

Messi was unplayable.

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