Six Classic Clasico Clashes Ahead of Barcelona vs Real Madrid This Weekend

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It is not just the biggest fixture in Spanish soccer but the biggest game in the world game full stop. Barcelona and Real Madrid are arguably the two largest clubs on the planet, and it is a talking point on all four corners of the globe whenever they lock horns in La Liga.

The first meeting between the rivals takes place this weekend. Barcelona goes into this weekend’s clash as favorites, with DraftKings Sportsbook offering odds of +125 on a home win compared to +205 on a Madrid triumph and +255 on the tie. Both sides head into the game on the back of shock 1-0 defeats last time out: Barcelona was beaten by Getafe in their first fixture following the international break, while Madrid went down to newly-promoted Cadiz.

Ahead of Saturday’s showdown, here are six of the most memorable Clasico tussles in La Liga so far this century.

Barcelona 3-3 Real Madrid, 2006/07

One of Pep Guardiola’s earliest decisions upon becoming Barcelona manager in the summer of 2008 was to sell Ronaldinho. That was a bold move that could easily have backfired, but Guardiola was concerned that Ronaldinho’s off-field antics could prove detrimental to the development of Lionel Messi.

Perhaps this game – more than any other – convinced Guardiola to follow that path. Messi was outstanding in a six-goal thriller at the Camp Nou, scoring a hat-trick against Madrid for the first time.

If it was not for the 19-year-old, playing alongside Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho in Frank Rijkaard’s front three, Barcelona would surely have been beaten by Madrid, whose goals came courtesy of a Ruud van Nistelrooy brace and a Sergio Ramos header.

It was Los Blancos who went on to win the La Liga title in 2006/07, finishing above their rivals due to a superior head-to-head record – which meant Ramos’ equalizer at the Camp Nou was all the more decisive.

Real Madrid 4-1 Barcelona, 2007/08

Real Madrid proved too strong for Barcelona in May 2008, as the club from the Spanish capital celebrated winning the La Liga title in style.

Madrid had already secured the championship going into the final Clasico of the campaign, which forced Barcelona’s players to welcome their rivals onto the pitch with a guard of honor.

Madrid underlined their superiority over the next 90 minutes, as goals from Raul, Arjen Robben, Gonzalo Higuain, and Ruud van Nistelrooy inflicted an eighth defeat of the season on Barca, for whom Thierry Henry notched a late consolation.

Barcelona were not even able to finish second in 2007/08, with runners-up Villarreal 10 points ahead of them after 38 games.

Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona, 2008/09

Pep Guardiola’s first season as Barcelona manager could hardly have gone any better, as the Blaugrana swept all before them in La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. The domestic title was the first trophy they secured that campaign, and this 6-2 thrashing of Real Madrid moved them to within a touching distance of glory on that particular front.

Deploying Lionel Messi as a false nine worked a treat, with Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry, Xaxi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta also impressing at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid actually took the lead through Gonzalo Higuain, but Henry, Carles Puyol, and Messi struck to make it 3-1 to the visitors at half-time. Sergio Ramos halved the deficit early in the second half, before Barcelona ran riot with further goals from Henry, Messi, and Gerard Pique.

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Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid, 2010/11

Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona is widely considered one of the greatest club teams of all time, and this was their signature performance. Then-Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney admitted to spontaneously standing up and applauding while watching this performance on television.

Barcelona dominated the match from start to finish. Jose Mourinho is often characterized as a defense-minded manager, but he kept faith with his usual 4-2-3-1 formation here – and paid the price.

Barcelona were absolutely magnificent in front of their own fans at the Camp Nou, with Xavi Hernandez, Pedro Rodriguez, David Villa (twice) and the now-forgotten Jeffren all getting on the scoresheet in this historic victory. Guardiola’s side would go on to win the La Liga title for the third season on the bounce a few months later.

Real Madrid 3-4 Barcelona, 2013/14

The 2013/14 La Liga title race was one of the most entertaining of recent times, with Atletico Madrid competing alongside the perennial contenders from the Bernabeu and the Camp Nou. Many expected Atletico to fall away in the closing weeks of the season, so this clash in March 2014 was billed as a winner-becomes-the-favorite contest.

Karim Benzema’s brace and goals from Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi made it 2-2 at the interval before Cristiano Ronaldo edged Madrid in front 10 minutes after the restart. However, a red card for Sergio Ramos swung the pendulum back in Barcelona’s direction, and Messi completed his hat-trick with a pair of penalties.

In the end, this victory was inconsequential, with Atletico going on to win the title after a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou on the final day.

Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona, 2016/17

In another thrilling late-season contest, Barcelona was again victorious at the Santiago Bernabeu but failed to go on and win the title, with Real Madrid coming out on top this time.

Madrid only needed a point to remain in pole position in the race for the championship, and it was they who drew first blood through Casemiro. Goals from Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic meant Barcelona were leading heading into the final quarter of an hour, and Sergio Ramos’ red card seemed to have ended Madrid’s hopes of a draw.

In fact, James Rodriguez made it 2-2 soon after Ramos was given his marching orders, only for Messi to pop up with the winner in injury time.

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Greg Lea

Expert on Soccer

Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]