Top Five Controversies involving Real Madrid and FC Barcelona
El Clasico is the biggest club football game on the planet with more than 100 million viewership. People all over the world eagerly await the battle between these two Spanish behemoths.
This is the battle of two contrasting footballing ideologies who are at the peak of their powers. There's Barcelona, who, with their famed La Masia academy and intricate passing style stands out, whereas Real Madrid believes in Galacticos.
The rivalry stems from the time of the Spanish Civil War. Real Madrid became the 'Regime Club' which had full support of the government, whereas, Barcelona was looked down upon.
With the 2019-20 La Liga season getting underway this month, we take a look at some of the most controversial moments involving the Camp Nou based Barcelona and the Los Blancos.
The beginning of it all
Barcelona and Real Madrid were not foes at first but it all changed during this ill fated clash. Year was 1943 and the Catalan giants had defeated Real Madrid 3-0 in the first leg of the semi-final of the Copa del Generalisimo (now known as Copa Del Rey).
In the second leg of the semi-final. Barcelona led 8-0 at half-time and won the match comprehensively with a score of 11-1. Something didn’t seem right.
Barcelona players had arrived in Madrid under an immense pressure and fear for the lives of them and their families.
There was no evidence that Franco’s government influenced the result by any means but it was hard to imagine that a far more superior team would lose by this margin under normal circumstances.
Barcelona was seen as the flag of the Catalan independence, whereas, Real Madrid was without a doubt Franco’s team who was the head of Spain at the time.This was the start of their infamous rivalry.
Transfer saga of Alfredo Di Stefano
Alfredo Di Stefano was a football pioneer who transformed Real Madrid into the world’s first super club. But his move to Madrid is full of conspiracy theories. General Francisco Franco was at it again.
According to rumours, he personally intervened to bring Stefano to Madrid. Stefano’s impressive goal scoring record at Colombian side, Millonarios had attracted the interest of both Real Madrid and Barcelona.
He landed up in Madrid after a slew of ill fated controversies regarding his ownership. It was claimed that the government stopped the Spanish Federation from intervening. Franco was anti Catalonia and had dealings with Real president, Santiago Bernabeu.
Di Stefano would play his first Clasico just a month after moving to Madrid and netted four in a 5-0 victory. Barcelona fans are still bitter about the whole saga and the fact that one of the best players in the history slipped through their hands due to dark government forces.
Return of Luis Figo to the Camp Nou
After Luis Figo's controversial £37m transfer to Real Madrid from Barcelona in 2000, Barca fans decided to make their feelings known when the former Ballon d'Or winner returned to Camp Nou with Real Madrid in 2002.
He put on a brave face and did not refrain from taking corners for the Los Blancos. While he was at it, several projectiles were directed towards him by the crowd.
The referee had to stop proceedings on numerous occasions to clear the pitch while stewards had to surround Figo while he took corners. A severed pig’s head was also thrown towards him, which perfectly summed up the Catalan’s hate towards the Portuguese.
Eye poke by the Special One
After the arrival of the special one, Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, El Clasico turned into an ugly affair. Plenty of controversies followed. In 2011, as Marcelo roughly tackled Cesc Fabregas, all hell broke loose.
Punches were thrown, people were shoved and even an eye was poked. Mourinho, who always took utmost pleasure out of Barcelona’s suffering, poked Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova in the eye.
Vilonova retaliated as he shoved Mourinho away, whereas the 'Special One', in his own special way, retreated and smirked. Mesut Ozil, David Villa and Marcelo were sent off for their role in the scuffle.
This incident epitomized the disregard Mourinho had for Barcelona. He was banned for two matches for his actions, which was later lifted. This was one of the many incidents which gave the Clasico another torrid dimension.
Sergio Ramos: Football’s pantomime villain
Ramos brings a winning mentality to the team he plays for. But, with that comes his histrionics and his willingness to do anything for the win.
During Barcelona’s 5-0 rout of Madrid in 2010, Ramos had had enough of Lionel Messi and in the 90th minute of the game, went ahead and hacked him down. Barcelona players remonstrated with him for what he did.
A fracas ensued and Ramos put his hands into the faces of his Spain teammates. He pushed Puyol to the floor and dismissed anyone who tried to reason with him or tried to calm him down.
It was feared that the incident would mess with the harmony of the Spanish contingent of both the teams. The Barcelona duo of Xavi and Puyol made light of the incident and stated that these things happen in the heat of the battle.
Ramos was shown a red card for his actions. This was one of 19 red cards which Ramos has accumulated in his La Liga career. Being the captain of Real, he set the tone for the hostile approach which his team adopted during the Clasicos.