Ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona’s latest La Liga meeting this weekend, we pick out some memorable recent clashes between the pair.
Madrid found themselves way down in fourth place heading into this clash at Camp Nou in March 2007, but the gap separating them from top spot – then occupied by a Sevilla side featuring Luis Fabiano, Dani Alves and Frederic Kanoute – was only six points. Barcelona, a point behind Sevilla and thus five ahead of Madrid, knew they could deliver a potentially fatal blow to their rivals’ title hopes by emerging victorious in front of their own supporters, but it was the Blaugrana who spent the evening chasing.
Indeed, Madrid took the lead on no fewer than three occasions, Ruud van Nistelrooy netting a brace and Sergio Ramos scoring once, but the magnificent Lionel Messi pegged them back each time.
A strike from the Argentinian in the 90th minute earned him the match ball and Barcelona a point, but Madrid recovered quickly and went on to win the title under Fabio Capello.
There is no better way to celebrate a title triumph. Real Madrid had already been crowned Spanish champions after a 2-1 victory over Osasuna a few days before this edition of the Clasico in May 2008, but there was little chance of them easing up when Barcelona travelled to the capital for a midweek encounter under the lights at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Goals from Raul and Arjen Robben put Bernd Schuster’s men 2-0 up midway through the first half, before Gonzalo Higuain and Ruud van Nistelrooy doubled the hosts’ advantage after the interval. Thierry Henry grabbed a consolation late on, but it was not enough for the Catalan club to avoid humiliation.
In the end, third-placed Barcelona finished 18 points behind Madrid, paving the way for Pep Guardiola to replace Frank Rijkaard as manager in the summer.
Nothing less than a win would do for Real when Barcelona visited Madrid in May 2009, with Pep Guardiola’s charges four points clear at the top of the table with five fixtures left to fulfil.
Los Blancos got off to the perfect start, breaking the deadlock in the 13th minute through Gonzalo Higuain, but Thierry Henry levelled the scores soon after to swing the balance back in Barcelona’s favour.
Further goals from Carles Puyol and Lionel Messi saw the Blaugrana go into the break 3-1 up; although Sergio Ramos’ effort in the 55th minute threatened to make a game of it, Henry, Messi and Gerard Pique sealed a famous victory for Barca and set them on their way to the championship crown.
This was arguably Barcelona’s greatest ever performance from probably their best ever side. Jose Mourinho’s Madrid outfit were top of the table prior to their final match in November at the Camp Nou, but they were completely outclassed by their Lionel Messi-inspired adversaries, who produced an extraordinary performance in a five-goal thrashing.
Messi may have been the star of the show, but the goals came from Xavi Hernandez, Pedro Rodriguez, David Villa (two) and the largely forgotten figure of Jeffren Suarez, who is currently plying his trade in Switzerland with Grasshoppers.
Barcelona climbed above Madrid in the standings and never looked back, claiming the La Liga title by a four-point margin after being pushed all the way by Mourinho’s men.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have contested three European Cup/Champions League semi-finals since the competition was launched in 1955. The capital club triumphed 6-2 on aggregate in 1959/60 and 3-1 in 2001/02, but by the 2010/11 campaign it was Barca’s time to get the better of their fierce rivals on the continental stage.
The first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu was delicately poised with 15 minutes left on the clock, but two strikes from Lionel Messi put Pep Guardiola’s men on the brink of the final.
The second was one of the best goals the Argentinian has ever scored: collecting possession from Sergio Busquets more than 40 yards from goal, Messi breezed past four Madrid players before sliding the ball past Iker Casillas.
Atletico Madrid stunned Spanish football by winning the La Liga title in 2013/14, but neighbours Real Madrid still ended the campaign with more trophies to their name. As well as beating Atleti in a dramatic Champions League final in Lisbon, los Blancos got their hands on the Copa del Rey thanks to a 2-1 defeat of Barcelona in the competition’s showpiece.
Madrid took the lead in the 10th minute, Angel Di Maria adding the finish touch to a superb counter-attack after Dani Alves lost possession in the opposition’s half of the field.
Marc Bartra headed home from a corner to make it 1-1 in the second half, before the young centre-back was completely outpaced by match-winner Gareth Bale, who scored a wonderful goal to seal victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
By Greg Lea
Greg Lea is a freelance football writer for FourFourTwo, The Blizzard and various others. Follow his Twitter account @GregLeaFootball for anything and everything related to soccer and more.