The history behind ‘El Clasico’ rivalry
Real Madrid v Barcelona more than just a match
REAL Madrid and Barcelona, the world’s two richest clubs by income, meet for the opening La Liga ‘ Clasico’ of the 2011-12 campaign today, with Real three points clear of their arch-rivals at the top of the standings and with a game in hand.
Barça coach Pep Guardiola has won seven of 11 meetings between the clubs since he took the helm in 2008 but Jose Mourinho’s Real have been edging closer in each encounter.
Barça beat Real 5-4 on aggregate in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup in August, the curtain-raiser to the new season, running out 3-2 winners in the second leg at the Nou Camp, the last time the sides faced off.
Following is an explanation of a selection of Spanish words and phrases which help explain their intense rivalry. BARCA’S 5-0 La Liga hammering of Real at the Nou Camp last season had home players and fans waving a hand in the air with the fingers spread in celebration of the five goals – la manita, or “little hand”. That result, and the 6-2 thrashing Barça handed out at the Bernabeu in 2009, are two of the most humiliating reverses suffered by Real in recent times.
In the mid 1990s Dutch coach Johan Cruyff led Barça to a crushing 5-0 league drubbing of Madrid at the Nou Camp, when Brazil striker Romario netted a hat-trick.
Catalan joy was relatively shortlived, however, as Real beat them 5-0 at the Bernabeu the following season thanks to an Ivan Zamorano treble.
Tomorrow’s result will be important in helping determine the head-to-head score between the teams should they finish level on points at the end of the season – a positive one for Real secured them the 2007 league title under Fabio Capello. CONSPIRACY theories have abounded over the years about biased refereeing towards either team. Allegations of favouritism shown towards Real by referees during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco have given way recently to Barça being accused of having a helping hand.
The theory that Barça backed the re-election of Angel Maria Villar to the presidency of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF), while Real supported a rival candidate, has given rise to the term “Villarato” which is a term used every time Madrid fans think Barça have had some kind of favourable treatment.
Real boss Jose Mourinho has played up this debate, citing the red cards given against his own side and the punishments handed out to himself and his team. It landed him in hot water with UEFA for a rant against referees and the authorities after their Champions League semi-final first leg defeat last season. AT THE end of the Spanish Super Cup in August, with Barça winning 3-2 at the Nou Camp, a studs-up challenge by Real defender Marcelo on Barça’s Cesc Fabregas sparked a mass brawl on the touchline.
In the middle of the melee, Mourinho snuck up behind Guardiola’s assistant coach Tito Vilanova and gouged a finger in his eye. Vilanova responded by cuffing Mourinho round the head.
The referee did not see “el dedo de Mou” (the finger of Mourinho), which was caught on television.
After almost two months of deliberations, the RFEF handed Mourinho a two-match ban to be served only in the event of the Portuguese appearing in another Super Cup, the annual meeting between the league winners and the King’s Cup holders. Vilanova received a one-match ban.
Barça players accused Mourinho of wrecking Spanish football while Mourinho later offered an apology only to Madrid fans.
Real president Florentino Perez backed Mourinho, while Barça's former coach Cruyff called it “an act of arrogance and impotence”. BARCELONA’S slogan “more than a club” helps explain why the ‘Clasico’ is more than just a football match.
Barça is seen as a symbol of Catalan nationalism and of the region’s struggle for recognition against the perceived centralising force of the Spanish government in Madrid, embodied by Real.
Barça fans wave the yellow and red-striped Catalan flags and hold up banners at the Nou Camp proclaiming in English that “Catalonia is not Spain”.
Many whistled through the national anthem at the Mestalla before last year’s King’s Cup final.
Madrid fans respond by waving Spain flags and singing “Viva Espana” ( Long Live Spain) with Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa’s “Viva Espana!” message on his Twitter feed just after their Cup final triumph was widely debated by fans afterwards. – Reuters
SWORN ENEMIES: Barcelona’s David Villa and Pepe of Real Madrid clash during the Super Cup second leg match at the Nou Camp back in August.