El Clasico is one of those dates any soccer enthusiast highlights on the calendar every season. Barcelona and Real Madrid, besides being two of the biggest clubs on the planet, set up arguably the most exciting derby in the world.
The two La Liga giants got used to featuring the most renowned players over the last few years, including the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, which helped to boost the attractiveness of their clashes.
But this derby is always a must-watch regardless of the situation of each side. The upcoming El Clasico, to be broadcast in the US by ESPN+, might be one of the most evenly-matched meetings between them in recent history, and that's only another reason to be excited about it. Here, find out how this rivalry started.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid: How did El Clasico begin?
To explain the origins of El Clasico, we have to go back to the 1900s, when both clubs were taking their first steps. At the beginning, these two sides only met in the Copa del Rey as they were both playing in their respective regional competitions.
The tension between the city of Madrid and Catalonia, however, could be seen as a starting point for the eventual rivalry between their two biggest clubs. But it wasn't until the Spanish Civil War that this antagonism became stronger, with General Francisco Franco's dictatorship having its base in the Spain capital while Catalonia rebelled against the regime.
We could mark, though, the 1943 Copa del Rey (which was called Copa del Generalisimo during Franco's dictatorship from 1939 to 1975) semifinals as the moment when the intense rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid truly began. Following a 3-0 Blaugrana win in the first leg, El Merengue turned things around by winning 11-1 in the second leg in a game that didn't lack controversy and even saw the president of both clubs resigning.
The behavior of the police and the referee that time was seriously questioned as Barca remember that clash as the 'shameful' game. From then on, the rivalry between the Cules and Los Blancos would continue to increase.
Another episode that intensified it was the controversial transfer of Alfredo Di Stefano, who was playing for Millonarios but was under contract with River Plate. Real Madrid signed him from the Colombian side, while Barcelona reached an agreement with the Argentine giants. Therefore, FIFA proposed that Di Stefano would play two seasons for each side, something Barca refused to accept, leading to the resignation of their president and the cancellation of Di Stefano's contract, enabling him to play only for Real Madrid.
The success of each side and the competition for the major prizes in the following years continued to fuel the antagonism between these clubs, who have also embraced different cultures. While Real Madrid put results and success above anything else, taking pride in their record Champions League and La Liga trophies, Barcelona stick to a soccer philosophy and way of winning that makes them different from the rest.
The upcoming El Clasico may look like the most evenly-matched derby between Barcelona and Real Madrid over the last few years, but the truth is that anytime they face it's hard to tell who'll emerge victorious. Either way, this match will be a must-see for any soccer fan and you can watch it in the US via ESPN+.