It is that time of the year again when the two biggest clubs in Spain, and indeed two of the biggest in the world, come together in a seismic clash that has come to be called ‘El Clasico’. Spanish for ‘The Classic’, there is good reason for this match to be dubbed as such. Real Madrid and Barcelona represent two very different sides of Spain and, in this century at least if not earlier, two different ways of approaching the game of football. More often than not, matches between the two sides have been memorable encounters that have decided the Spanish league titles, domestic cup competitions and at times even the Champions League.
The two sides first met each other all the way back in 1902 and so, picking a top three of the greatest ‘Clasicos’ of all time is a herculean, and one would say rather futile, task. What we can do, though, is narrow the time period down to the last 10 years, most of which was dominated by the rivalry between Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. Both players have left their respective clubs now but their shadow always looms large on their histories. Here, we take a look at three of the best games between Real Madrid and Barcelona in the last 10 years. Two of these ended in Barcelona victories and so, apologies in advance to Real Madrid fans.
3. Barcelona 2-3 Real Madrid – Spanish Super Cup semi-final (January 2022)
The result may have been what was widely expected but the way it was achieved was far from it. Barcelona were stumbling along in the post-Messi transfer season and their team was seen as far inferior to Real Madrid’s high flying mix of youth and experience. However, Real required an extra-time goal from Federico Valverde and a lot of desperate defending after that to reach the final.
2. Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona – La Liga (April 2017)
Probably the last great El Clasico involving both Ronaldo and Messi ended with the latter scoring his 500th goal for Barca and momentarily giving his club hopes of snatching the title from their rivals. Real captain Sergio Ramos was sent off after a cynical foul on Messi in the 77th minute when the score was 2-1 in the visitors’ favour but James Rodriguez scored an equaliser after that. Real were the more dominant side post that goal despite going down to 10 men but a late break from Barcelona sparked by a brilliant run from Sergi Roberto ended with Messi turning the ball into the net with pin-point precision, then running to the home fans at the Santiago Bernabeu and holding his shirt aloft in what has since become and iconic pose.
1. Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona – La Liga (March 2014)
This match had a Messi hat-trick, Ronaldo converting one of the three penalties awarded on the night, a marauding Angel Di Maria and a Ramos red card. A forerunner to Barcelona’s Messi-Neymar-Suarez era, the Blaugrana came into the match on the backfoot with new manager Tata Martino failing to impress. Andres Iniesta fired the visitors ahead in the seventh minute but a brace from Karim Benzema gave Los Blancos the lead. Messi then took matters into his own hands and created an equaliser from almost nothing towards the end of the first half and the score was 2-2 at the break. Real took the lead again through Ronaldo’s penalty but Ramos was sent off for a foul on Neymar inside the box in the 63rd minute. Messi converted the resulting penalty and another spot kick in the 84th minute gave the Argentine great his third goal and his team three points.