Barcelona. Real Madrid. El Clásico. The biggest football match on Earth. It doesn’t matter when or where it happens, the world stops to watch.
Over the last 12 years, the world has stopped to watch a total of 41 Clásicos across all competitions (and one friendly), so I decided to do something fun while in quarantine: rewatch all 41 games and write about them in a new Barça Blaugranes series called ‘41 Clásicos’.
But why these 41 Clásicos? And why the last 12 years? The answer has two words: Pep Guardiola.
Before the greatest manager of all time joined Barcelona, El Clásico was more about pride than football: it was about the people of Catalonia putting all hopes on the players who represented them and tried to conquer the Evil Empire to give them a reason to smile for two hours. Real Madrid were a football powerhouse, and every Barça win was precious.
Enter Pep, and everything changed. Because of him and the players he got to coach El Clásico quickly became a meeting of two giants, and when Barça got too big and too dominant against Madrid under Guardiola, Los Blancos reacted and made this something much bigger than Capital vs. Catalonia. Twelve years later, this is the single biggest football match on the planet everytime it happens.
The last 41 Clásicos tell a story of Barça rising to prominence and consistently beating Real Madrid even after Guardiola left, and how Madrid slowly but surely became the team playing for pride because at times their football was not quite good enough to conquer the best team in Spain.
Think of ‘41 Clásicos’ as a book: you read a chapter a day and it’s done before you know it. Expect tactical analysis, some storytelling, a lot of trash-talking and a wonderful trip down memory lane. And who knows, maybe when ‘41 Clásicos’ is done we’ll get to see Barcelona play football again.
Until then, buckle up. This is going to be a fun ride.