This week, Barcelona visit their great rivals Real Madrid in La Liga’s El Clasico. Madrid are only four points behind the previously unstoppable Barcelona and would love to get closer. On this week’s show we look at the rivalry between these two famous clubs.
In addition we:
- Review the football news in the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
- Introduce a new football expression in English for Football
- And continue the predictions battle in the Predictions competition
For learners of English check out our new Football Language Resources page with:
- Football glossary (a huge collection of football vocabulary, football cliches and football phrases)
- Worksheets and transcripts
- Vocabulary lists
This weekend sees one of the biggest matches in world football when Real Madrid and FC Barcelona play at Madrid’s Santiago Bernebeu Stadium. The fact that there are only four points separating the two sides adds spice to the game as the title is very much up for grabs but with such a huge amount of history, tradition, passion and rivalry between the two sides it would not really matter if they were playing a pre-season friendly. Madrid and Barcelona simply don’t do meaningless games.
Since the early 2000s, the game has become known as El Clásico – but before that it was simply called ‘El derbi’, the derby of Spain. However, the game is unlike any other derby when local fans hope for bragging rights when their team wins, instead this has national pride at stake and not just because these two sides are the most popular around the country. It’s much deeper than that. Barcelona’s supporters see their team as representatives of the Catalan region – the club motto is ‘mes que un club’ – more than a club, while Madrid fans on the other hand, view their side as Spain’s team.
The first league match was in 1929 with Real Madrid winning away in Barcelona 2-1 though a few months later Barcelona did the same and the rivalry was up and running. Since then, the two sides have met 157 times with Real having won 68 and Barca 59. There have been 30 draws, the last of which was a wonderful 3-3 occasion in Barcelona in 2007.
To emphasise the animosity that exists between the two clubs look no further than their transfer policies. Though some players have played for both clubs (normally from overseas) very few have directly made the crossover. Luis Enrique became a cult figure in Barcelona after his defection from Madrid in 1996. Going the other way in 1994 was Michael Laudrup who won titles in Madrid after being discarded by Barcelona – a huge mistake by the Blaugrana. But perhaps the biggest transfer story was the one involving Luis Figo in 2000. His move from Barcelona to Real Madrid left the Catalan fans feeling betrayed and every time Figo returned to play at the Camp Nou he received a hostile reception including famously a pig’s head thrown at him in the Champions League semi-final of 2001. Figo of course had the last laugh as his side went on to win that season’s Champions League title – the club’s ninth.
Barcelona have also won Europe’s major tournament but only on two occasions – the last being in 2006. They have 18 domestic titles which would be an excellent record in any other country but when your major rival has won La Liga 31 times it means that Barcelona still have some way to go in being top dogs in Spain. Beating Madrid this week would be a good start.