The first move requires no pieces. It is the look into the eyes of your opponent. The iron gaze of a warrior. The frozen stare of a man possessed. The piercing glare of a Champion. Feel the years, a lifetime of hunger and hope, trifles and triumphs, agony and ecstasy. Search his heart for fear and lay him down even before the battle starts. Master this art and you will make the final move. After all have fallen, you will stand alone; crowned CHAMPIONS! – 2009 NBA Playoffs commercial
The world stops to watch whenever Barcelona meets Real Madrid and it’s always more than just points at stake in this one. This is special, it isn’t just a Spanish Clasico, it is a Clasico all around the world. Watched by over 500 million people worldwide, this is the most followed club football match every year after the Champions League final. This is one of life’s classic with culture, emotions, rivalry, history and politics behind it.Barcelona vs Real Madrid live.
The rivalry comes about as Madrid and Barcelona are the two biggest cities in Spain, and the two clubs are the most successful, influential and most followed football clubs around the world represented by some of the legends of the game. They are almost neck and neck in terms of overall trophies won with 79 and 76 official titles for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. Along with Athletic Bilbao, they are the only club in La Liga to have never been relegated from the league.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
But much more than just football, the clash between the two has always crossed the boundaries of sporting dimensions. More so, if you are from Barcelona and have Catalan roots. For a Catalan, playing in the Spanish Clasico is a matter of enormous pride, as playing for Barcelona effectively means, you are representing Catalonia. For some, a region of Spain; for others, a different country altogether. It’s all about the identity, whenever the Barcelona team takes the field, they always play for the Catalan flag. They’re the pride of the nation and wherever you are in Catalonia, you always identify with the club. FC Barcelona is thus the symbol of Catalan nationalism or as they say in Catalan, Mes Que Un Club (more than just a club)
Therefore, it’s actually Catalonia v Spain whenever these two football clubs clash and it is like playing against a different country. As the two superpowers of Spanish football fight it out year after year, the hope in Madrid is that this is purely a football rivalry. Although, there are historical reasons behind Barcelona’s bitterness, Madrid just want to keep a lid on things, as often stated by Real Madrid’s president that they are rivals and not enemies. But still, off the pitch, Madridistas see the Catalan separatist feelings as a slur against their nation and the greeting for Barcelona whenever they arrive at the Santiago Bernabeu, is never too welcoming. The Madrid songs and mosaic and the chants of Spain, Spain, Spain making the atmosphere the most hostile for any Barcelona player or supporter.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
That division between Catalonia and Spain absolutely defines this rivalry. Many Catalans point to centuries of repression from the then centralist Madrid based state. The Spanish civil war of 1939 is still particularly fresh in the memory. It was General Franco’s forces that overwhelmed the rebel factions in Catalonia, and then his dictatorship introduced measures that were very unwelcome. People were not allowed to name their children with Catalan names, they weren’t allowed to speak their language and hence it was under Franco that Catalonia went into repression. While Madrid enjoyed political dominance, it was a period of austerity for Catalonia.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
People thought that their way of life, their very identity was under threat from Madrid. But, there was one place where Catalans could come together and openly speak their language. It was their football stadium, where they went to see Barcelona. It had become their shrine, where they could come and speak and sometimes portray the Catalan flag too. Thus, whenever these two sides met, it was considered as the re-enactment of the Spanish civil war.
It was thus in Franco’s years that Catalan nationalism and FC Barcelona became inextricably linked. Nowadays though, with Franco long gone, there’s no need for the Catalans to be secretive about their culture or their football club. They can now openly boast about their club to be the best in the world, especially with the success they’ve recently had. However, it had not been the same in the 20th century. As Madrid dominated the domestic league and were almost unbeatable in Europe, they were by far the most successful team of the 20th century and this did not go down well with the Barcelona fans. Many feel this jealousy is what that really ignited this rivalry.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
But, there was always a huge suspicion behind Madrid’s influence. Many felt that Spanish football wasn’t always played on a level field. It was very unlikely for any other team to win the league as everyone was perceived to favor Real Madrid. The referees and the football association always gave crucial decisions in favor of Madrid. Again, the suspicion goes back to Franco. The dictator was, after all, a Real Madrid fan.
Franco’s influence on Real Madrid became even more evident in an incident that still sticks in Catalan throats; the signature of the Argentine star, Alfredo De Stefano. Both clubs claimed to have signed him . But, after intervention from FIFA, it was decided that both Barcelona and Real Madrid had to share the player in alternate seasons. Barcelona’s Franco-imposed president backed down after a few appearances, as Barcelona’s side claimed, but Real say Barcelona’s decision was voluntary and Di Stéfano moved definitively to Madrid. He then went on to become a Real Madrid legend and was hugely influential in the subsequent success achieved by Real Madrid, which included the initial five European cups from 1956 to 1960.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
Real Madrid fans however, stake their claim away from such ‘favoring’ accusations by pointing to the fact that it was Barcelona who won more titles during Franco’s years and just like De Stefano, it was Laszlo Kubala who was on the verge on signing for Madrid, but eventually joined Barcelona.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
Whatever may be the truth behind those transfers, but whether it was De Stefano or Kubala, the affair set off a culture of big name international signings, which is very much alive in the present day as well. For Barcelona though, one superstar stands above all others; Johan Cruyff. He still remains the sporting and spiritual father of the club who changed the philosophy at Barcelona and turned them into a winning team. Older Barcelona fans would still remember a particular day in 1974, when the Johan Cruyff led Barcelona team went to Bernabeu and hammered Real Madrid 5-0.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
5-0 had since then become a familiar result in the Barca-Madrid games. Johan Cruyff returned to Barcelona as coach, and his dream team inspired by brilliant Romario wreaked havoc once again in 1994 and beat Madrid 5-0. But, Madrid had their own wins too. A year after that hammering from Romario and co. in 1994, Madrid avenged their defeat at Bernebeu by beating Barcelona 5-0.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
Over the years that followed, Madrid gained the initiative in the great Spanish rivalry. Barca may have won their first European cup in 1992, but Real won the competition in 1998, 2000 and then again in 2002 setting up a record of 9 European cup triumphs. Madrid tried to build on this golden era by buying some of the biggest stars in world football like Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Fabio Cannavaro and most recently, Cristiano Ronaldo. Every year their president made sure that they got a mega star for Real Madrid. But, this ‘galactico’ era was kicked off by the most controversial purchase of all; Luis Figo signed from Barcelona. It was termed as one of the impossible moves. For a player to make a name for himself at Barcelona and become a fan favorite and then make a move to Real Madrid was impossible. Nevertheless, Figo, the idol of Barcelona, made his move to Madrid.
As expected, he wasn’t exactly welcomed when he returned in the white of Real to play at the Camp Nou. The noise levels, the mosaics, the banners made the atmosphere as the hardest moment that a sportsman has ever had to endure. Barca fans were clearly furious that one of their stars had gone to Real Madrid, but what they did to Figo was very unsportsmanlike. But, years later, a real moment of sportsmanship was seen at the Bernabeu after two goals of exceptional quality by Barca’s Ronaldinho. So good that even the Madrid fans stood up and applauded, making him only the second player after Diego Maradona to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
While Madrid were building on their galactico era, Barcelona on the other hand, were relying on their home grown talents. Patience with academy graduates like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi have reaped huge dividends in the recent years under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, which made them the best football team in the world. Often dubbed as one of the best team to have ever played the game. As expected, this rise in stature of Barcelona did no go down well at Madrid and the rivalry intensified in 2011 where, due to the Cup final and the meeting of two in Champions League, Barcelona and Real Madrid were scheduled to meet each other 4 times in 18 days. Several incidents of unsportsmanlike behavior from both teams and war of words erupted throughout the fixtures which included 4 red cards. Spain coach raised concerns that due to the rising tensions between the two clubs, this could cause tensions in the national side too.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.
So, it’s the week of El Clasico again, and the expectation levels in Barcelona are at fever pitch. Barca stars seem to be the subject of every newspaper column, every television report and every radio programme. The whole week is a feeling frenzy for the media. They call the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona as a war that never ends. It goes on year after year and it’s always like this, one set of fans smile, other set cries and it goes on like this forever. And it will be the same this week at Camp Nou, where another battle of this never ending war will be fought.watch Barcelona vs Real Madrid Spain Copa del Rey live streaming in HD Full.