In 1916, the two Spanish giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona met four times in a span of only 20 days. During the last 95 years, the two teams have never played four games in such a short period of time. It is now 2011, almost 100 years later, and it will happen again. Although, this time in a span of only 17 days.
The 16th of April is the date of the first game; it will be played at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. This first encounter can potentially decide which club could win the Spanish league. On the 20th of April, just days after the first game, the teams will travel to Valencia to meet at Mestalla in the Copa del Rey final. It will be the first Copa final between the two sides in 21 years. Seven days later they will go back to Madrid and Santiago Bernabeu to play the first leg of two in the Champions League Semi-final, the return leg will be played in Barcelona at Camp Nou six days after that.
April 16 = Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona (La Liga, Week 32)
April 20 = FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid (Copa del Rey, Final @ the Mestalla)
April 27 = Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona (Champions League, Semi-final Leg 1)
May 3 = FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid (Champions League, Semi-final Leg 2)
El Clasico, or El Clàssic, as it’s called in Catalan, is a football game that is played two times every year. It’s a game between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. But no, it’s not only a football game between two teams; it’s a lot more than that. It’s Spain against Catalonia! When it’s played, Spain stands still for 90 minutes. To really understand what this ‘football match” is all about, you need to know the history of the two clubs as well as the history of the two countries. Because for the Catalan people, Catalonia is its own country. We can go further into the history books at another time, however…
Normally, when El Clàssic is coming around, people start talking about it weeks before the actual game is played. It’s one of the world’s most watched football matches and also the most talked about. For the players, it can be even more important to win this game than it is winning the Champions League. Especially for the home grown players – those who have grown up with the colours of their team. When it’s time for El Clàssic it doesn’t matter what team has had the better season to date because in this game anything can happen. It’s a game you play with heart. Just ask Puyol and Xavi who are two players that may even risk their lives just to win that game.
This year is a special year when it comes to El Clàssic. For the first time many if not all of us will see this game be played five times during only a period of one season. The first game was already played back in November, in which Barça in many eyes played the best El Clàssic to ever exist. The Manita Madrid will want to forget but Barça never will. Now, in 17 days we will see four games between the two rivals. It is four games that can decide if a team will win everything…or win nothing.
The last five El Clàssics have been won by Barça but that doesn’t mean they will win the upcoming four as well. It feels like decades since the team has lost this type of match. As Valdés once said: “Was Madrids victory’s in colour or in black and white?” It’s a great feeling to have – being the best, being the unbeatable. But is Blaugrana unbeatable when it comes to El Clàssic? So far under the leading hand of Pep it has been. But how long will it last, will we still be unbeatable during these four games?
Hopefully yes, but probably not! This might be the best football team that has ever existed under FCB, but to win four El Clàssic’s in 17 days and achieving nine in a row…is it possible? Is there really any team that would be able to win over a team like Madrid so many times in so few days? If there is, it’s probably this Barça side that could do it.
We also have to remember the shortened squad we currently have and with players like Puyol and Abidal out. Which begs the question: how good (or stable) is our defence? Then again, we should have the ball the majority of the time if everything goes as planned. We can only speculate in what will happen and in who will win. But I know one thing is for sure: I want Puyol on that pitch for as many of these games as possible! Not only because of his superb defending skills, but for his heart since El Clàssic is all about heart!
All can be won or all can be lost…it all comes down to 17 days, 2 teams, 4 games and 3 tournaments. It is now that everything can be decided!
[Photo Credit: Cleva Media]