Barcelona replaced Real Madrid at the top of La Liga last night with a scintillating 5-0 rout of their great rivals at Camp Nou. Jose Mourinho’s team arrived in Catalonia on the back of seven straight league victories and with expectations soaring. They left humbled, with their pride in tatters. For Mourinho, it was the worst defeat of his career in management. His previously unbeaten team were dominated by a masterful Barcelona performance. And they were put to the sword with a swagger that will have the purists purring. Pep Guardiola’s side had the monopoly on possession and inspiration, and ultimately reduced the visiting Galaticos to a disjointed and disorganized force who could barely string a pass together. “This is the first time I have ever been beaten 5-0,” Mourinho said after the game. “It is a historically bad result for us. It is not a humiliation but I am very disappointed. It is sad for us. “But it is not difficult for me to swallow. What’s difficult to swallow is when you lose a game because you have hit the post or the referee has been bad. I have left here in that state before with Chelsea and Inter Milan but that was not the case tonight. It is easy for me to take because it is fair.
“We played very, very badly and they were fantastic. We gifted them two goals that were bordering on the ridiculous. It is our own fault.” Barca went ahead on 10 minutes, when Andres Iniesta’s shot deflected into the path of his Spanish international teammate Xavi. The midfielder poked past Iker Casillas to start the rout. On 18 minutes a wonderful flowing move from Barca culminated in a David Villa cross from the left, which Pedro met to steer into an empty net. On 55 minutes, Lionel Messi’s pass released Villa. The Spanish international striker emphatically beat Casillas to make it 3-0 Barca. Besides trophies, personal and team records, the history of football has been based around great rivalries. One of the most spectacular is that between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, in the encounter known as ‘El Clásico.’ It has become a global phenomenon, and the next edition is less than a fortnight away.
FC Barcelona were founded in 1899 and Real Madrid three years later, in 1902. It was the latter year in which the first El Clásico was played. It was part of the ‘Concurso Madrid de Foot-Ball Association,’ better known as the Copa de la Coronación, an unofficial competition. The majority of the initial games between the two teams were friendlies, given that LaLiga had yet to be formed and the only national competition was the Copa de España. With the passage of time, the fixture became more regular -especially after LaLiga was founded in 1929. Disputes over signings -such as the battle for Alfredo di Stefano’s signature in the 1950s- and controversial refereeing decisions only served to heat up the rivalry. The two clubs also boasted the best players of the era, such as Ladislao Kubala and Luis Suárez for Barça and Ferenc Puskas and Di Stefano for Real Madrid. In the middle of the 20th Century, the rivalry took on a new dimension. It was still known as a derby, rather than ‘El Clásico’ despite both teams being from different cities.
The rivalry did not wane over the decades, and in general the games remained evenly matched. That did not prevent some more comprehensive results between Barça and Real Madrid, however. Some such Barça wins helped coin a very famous term that is used today: ‘La Manita,’ or 5 goals against the eternal rivals. One of the most remembered was that of 1974, when Johan Cruyff was at his peak: the 0-5 victory at the Santiago Bernabéu is still remembered as one of the greatest El Clásico performances, with the Dutchman as captain of the team. But for the younger generations, Barça’s 5-0 result in 1994, with Cruyff as coach and with Romario in the starring role, is the more famous fixture.