It is that time of the season when the world stops to watch the biggest football game featuring the best players on the planet, and in some of the best stadiums in the world. It is the “The Classic” (EL Clasico).
This will be the 237th game between Real Madrid and their arch-rivals, Barcelona, in all competitions with Los Blancos slightly edging it 95 wins to Barca’s 92.
So, in our way at ACLSports.com, considering the importance of this game to football fans around the world, we decided to hear from passionate fans of both sides – on what El Clasico means to them, their memories, and expectations ahead of Saturday.
Here is what the EL Clasico means to these Real Madrid and Barcelona fans, including a Spanish local, Oscar Enento.
Deji Faremi – “Barca currently have an 11 point lead over their rivals who have a game in hand, and will see it as a chance to knock Real Madrid out of the title race. Real Madrid know a win could help them draw to potentially just five points behind the Blaugrana. El Clasico means everything,” – a Real Madrid fan said.
Biola Omowanle – “The El Clasico is usually the high point of the league season, facing arch rivals.… The time of the season I can brag the most, especially if Barcelona wins.” I’m sure you already know what side of the divide Biola is.
Chukwunonso Dim – “EL Clasico means war to me. If you could use a word as strong as hate (dont know if this statement would pass strong word -HATE), it would be Barcelona that comes to mind. Reason is the biggest defeats I have experienced as a Real Madrid fan came from Barcelona and it still hunts me.”
Dozie Owums – “The EL Clasico means a lot to every Cule (Barcelona fan). The thought of losing it is like a threat that’s stronger than it’s execution. The EL Clasico means everything; bragging rights, pride and power!”
Oscar Enento — “I should recognise that it is more of sports, [than] a game [and] it also means a fight – specific fight between two models of life; the evil – Real Madrid, and the good ones. “Years ago, Real represented the Fascists, that Franco approved, and Barca means the resisto (resistance) – the people who want to be free but can’t (make it).”
So what’s the craziest thing you’ve done to watch the EL Clasico?
Biola – “When I was younger and had to sneak out to watch football at viewing centers. I had to lie, saying I had drama rehearsals in church.” Still wondering why she is our only female respondent, there you have it.
Chuks – “In November 2010, I had a training at work which I could not miss. The game was 3 pm and I came up with an excuse that I had a family emergency, just to watch the game. We ended up losing 5-0 to Barcelona, it was a horrible day.” Things we do for the love of the game…
What is your best and worst EL Clasico moment?
Dozie – Best: “Hard to choose o. Welcoming Jose Mourinho to the EL Clasico with a 5-0 annihilation, the Ronaldinho 6-2 show at the Bernabeu with Los Blancos fans giving him a standing ovation. The last minute goal by Lionel Messi last season and raising his shirt right in the enemy territory, I could go on and on…”
Worst: “Losing the UEFA Champions League semi-final tie in April 2002 to Zidane and co”
Deji – Best: “As a Real Madrid fan, it’s always sweeter to beat Barcelona in the final to win a trophy. There have been a lot of sweet moments, but beating Barca to win the Spanish Cup in 2011 and Super Cup wins always stand out.”
Worst: “The dark years when Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o tormented Real Madrid stand out, so do the years when Xavi Hernandez, Iniesta and Lionel Messi ran the show uncontested.”
There are suggestions that given the gladiators, and the calibre of coaches that have been involved in the past, we may have seen the best days of the El Clasico. What do you have to say about this?
Dozie – “I don’t believe so. A Xavi could be back in the dugout against another Madrid legend or imagine a Pique Presidency when El Clasico is involved. Different times will come with its own dynamics.”
Deji – “Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of the greatest and most ambitious clubs in football history. It’s unlikely they will stop going for it. It’s a blessing for Spain to have two such big sides that have remained motivated and driven through the years. And it won’t stop anytime soon – the rivalry can only get tougher. Let’s not forget though, that El Clasico is beyond just football. That friction in ideology and history will always set the game up for drama and excitement.”
What are your expectations ahead of this weekend’s encounter?
Chuks – “I’m not expecting much on Saturday from Mardid. We have struggled this season like I expected. A team that has won two UCL back to back, there is nothing to look forward to. I hoped to see new faces in the summer but that didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be an exciting game but I don’t see Madrid getting a result from that game and it hurts me to say that.”
Dozie – “I expect a good game, played in a great atmosphere, tension and fever on the pitch, especially after the political events in Spain, an a game of positive result for all cules worldwide. I hope the Madrid boys don’t go kicking our boys when the flow is against them. Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Casemeiro and co. Their colour is white but they love an ugly clasico. I’d like to see a winning goal at death again by Messi or by President Pique. Nothing beats a last minute winner in enemy territory, I hope the referee is not Mr. Lahuz, and no ball crossing line controversies.”
Will it still be about Messi and Ronaldo or there will be more to it?
Deji – “It’s unlikely that these matches won’t be centred around this two for as long as they play for both sides. They are special players and can make something happen at anytime. But these sides have showed in recent years that there’s enough quality across the park and some of the less-fancied players can come up with the goods. You didn’t believe that, did you? *smiles* “
Dozie – “It will always be about the football god vs the human machine (gods are better than humans we know) but expect more, Pique v Ramos, Suarez v Ramos (kicking, fighting), Marcelo and whoever he chooses to take his frustrations to.”
Predictions and possible scorers.
Biola – Real Madrid (Ronaldo, Bale – if he plays) 2 -1 Barcelona (Suarez).
Deji – Not good at predictions, but I think Barcelona, with their current good form at Santiago Bernabeu should be good enough to avoid defeat. I’ll back a draw with Cristiano and Messi both scoring.
Chuks – Real Madrid (Modric) 1-2 Barcelona (Messi, Suarez).
Dozie – It’s a hard call, a draw or a victory by the odd goal. Messi and Paulinho should get on the score sheet. Visca Barca, Forca Barca, Vamos Blaugrana. More than just a club. “Know thy enemy, know thyself and victory is assured! Bring on the classic!”
Enento – “Barca to win 5-0. Catalonia will win at the polls and Bernabeu.”