Fondly called the “El Classico”, the matches between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in Spain is one of the fiercest clashes between rivals. To understand the importance of these matches, one should understand the history behind both these clubs. It is not simply a clash between two of the biggest clubs in Spain; but to many it is still a clash between the oppressor and the suppressor. FC Barcelona is iconic for every Catalan. Barcelona might be in Spain but the Catalans prefer to be out of the fold. If you ever visit Barcelona you would be surprised to see a higher status to the Catalan language than Spanish.
The rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid grew to unimaginable proportion during the era of Dictator Franco. Franco banned the use of Catalan language and hence the matches at Barcelona became the perfect place for Catalans to take their protest to international level. FC Barcelona became true to their identity “More Than A Club” with its progressive ideas. Real Madrid was considered the hot bed of power and was associated with Franco. The rivalry was intensified during the 1950s when the clubs disputed the signing of Alfredo Di Stefano. Di Stefano had impressed both Barcelona and Real Madrid whilst playing for Club Deportivo Los Millonarios in Bogota, during a players’ strike in his native Argentina. Both Madrid and Barcelona attempted to sign him and, due to confusion had emerged due to the di Stefano moving to Millonarios from River Plate due to the strike, as both clubs claimed to own his registration. Subsequently, both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid believed that they had signed him. After intervention from the Spanish FA Barcelona backed down and di Stefano moved to Madrid; rumour remains that Barca were forced to act by Franco, but Madrid maintained that they acted voluntarily. Di Stefano became integral in the subsequent success achieved by the Madrid, scoring twice in his first game against Barcelona. With him, Madrid won the initial five European Champions Cup competitions. The 1960s saw the rivalry reach the European stage when they met twice at the European Cup, Real Madrid winning in 1960 and FC Barcelona winning in 1961.
Head on head Real Madrid leads FC Barcelona by 68 to 59. There has been 30 draws in the El Classico till date. The El classico were made fiercer with players defecting from FC Barcelona to Real Madrid. The reception got for Figo when he visited Camp Nou is a prime example. El Classico is a prime business strategy for both these clubs – FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. At the current time, El Classico is nothing more than a marketing strategy for both the team. But still tempers rises with the approach of an El Classico. The Catalan and Madrid based media trumps up the adrenaline every time an El Classico approaches. May be a clash between Pakistan and India could match the match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. But no rivalry at Club level especially in Europe matches this mega event.