El Clasico Review, Preview

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona in El Clasico, January 2012

Two of Spain’s oldest rivals square off today in another Clasico in the Spanish Copa del Rey quarterfinals at Bernabeu. FC Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola recently crowned FIFA 2011 Men’s Coach of the Year, is calling for a scalping of Real Madrid in the first leg of the quarterfinals.

The history of these two teams is filled with rivalry. Easily the most followed two-team match-up in the world, Real Madrid and Barcelona represent two of the most influential teams in the world of soccer. Their rivalry has come to represent far more than mere cities, with Real Madrid signifying Spanish Nationalism while Barcelona, Catalan Nationalism.

With matches dating back more than 100 years, these teams have met nearly 250 times in exhibitions, La Liga matches, League Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Copa del Rey and Champions League matches. While Barcelona has hoisted one more title (75 to 74), Real Madrid has just one more win in competitive head-to-head matches: 85 wins to Barça’s 84 (excluding exhibition matches).

If the neck-and-neck trophies and records weren’t enough, players are consistently traded back and forth between the two teams. Since the teams’ inceptions, more than 30 players have transferred between clubs. During that time, only two players have received standing ovations from the opposing team’s fans, Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho, after his November 2005 two-goal performance in a 3-0 win at Bernabeu. See video below.

On top of all this, remember the 2011 Copa del Rey Final and Champions League, that put the teams head-to-head four times in an 18 day span. Plenty of heated off-the-field remarks and anticipation leading up to the fixtures caused a whopping four red cards to be issued in four games. As these teams continue to vie for more international glory, the tension within Spain grows tighter.

Finally, with Barça’s star striker Lionel Messi awarded his third consecutive Ballon d’Or over Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, the pressure is on for each team’s top players to follow through with a victory over one another. With so many meetings for these two teams, the stress on players, coaches, and fans only grows exponentially.

Enjoy El Clasico today, as it airs 4:00PM Eastern Standard Time, and 1:00PM on the West Coast. Check your local listings.

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