Barcelona were founded in 1899 while Madrid came into existence three years later in 1902 and in the same year the first ever clásico took place: The semi-final of the Copa del Rey when Barcelona beat Real 3-1. Since then there have been 209 meetings between the two clubs: Madrid have won 85, Barcelona 82 with the remaining 30 ending in draws. Now, Real have already beaten Barca in a Champions League semi-final – that was back in 2002 – but in the league, Barcelona have a very good recent record, including a 6-2 away victory two seasons ago and of course the excellent 5-0 win earlier on this season.
With such storied histories there are simply too many heroes to list – Butragueño, Hugo Sánchez, Di Stefano and Gento all from Madrid or Guardiola, Charlie Rexach, Suarez all from Barca, Instead, I will choose one from each side: Johann Cruyff and Raúl. Now Cruyff joined Barcelona from Ajax in 1973 for a then world record transfer fee of almost a million pounds and not only helped the side win their first title in 14 years but helped to destroy their rivals Real Madrid 5-0 along the way. He was quite simply the best player in the world at that time and easily won the European Footballer of the Year award in the same year. But Cruyff’s hero status at the club stems more from his time as manager of the club. Now he was appointed in 1988 and during his eight-year reign he won 11 trophies including 4 La Liga titles in a row and the first Champions League for the club in 1992. But it was not just the trophies because Cruyff also introduced a football philosophy that has influenced the club ever since.
Raúl, on the other hand, cost Real absolutely nothing when he joined the club from crosstown rivals Atletico in 1994 and for the next 16 years he scored a remarkable 323 goals in 741 appearances for the Madrid club. He won the league title in his first season at the club and then went on to win 5 more championships, as well as 3 Champions Leagues – he is the leading goalscorer in this competition with 72 goals, most of which came for Real. A true Real Madrid legend.
Real Madrid have won most La Liga titles with 31, with Barcelona second on 20. Madrid have also won the European Cup or Champions League more than any other team – they have 9 victories to Barca’s 3, though the Catalan club have won 8 more Copa del Rey titles than their capital rivals, that’s 25 to 17. Madrid have also won the UEFA Cup twice but Barca have done so three times. In addition, the Catalan side have won the Cup Winners Cup on 4 occasions and won the World Club Cup in 2009.
4. Football Style
Sid Lowe in Sports Illustrated suggests that though many see the two styles as being Real’s cartera (wallet) versus Barcelona’s cantera (youth system), in actual fact Barca have almost spent as much as Real on players though it should be noted that these players are rarely galácticos, that is, Real Madrid’s policy of signing superstars such as Ronaldo, Kaka, Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Beckham and Figo; players who have already made their names elsewhere. Currently, the Madrid side’s style can be described as counter-attacking – a style very popular with current coach Jose Mourinho, while Barca prefer to keep the ball, to pass and move and to wear down the opposition, tiki taka as it has come to be known.
Vocabulary from 4 Things to Know about Barcelona and Real Madrid
storied histories: Very important history; packed with football history
stems more from: Comes from, emerges from
He was appointed: He was given the job
crosstown rivals: Teams from the same city
the Catalan club: Barcelona
Cup Winners Cup: A former European tournament for winners of the domestic cup competitions
to wear down the opposition: To keep the ball and make the opposition become tired