One more sleep peeps! El Clasico is almost here! It’s so tight, Real Madrid sit one point ahead of Barca in the standings. Whoever wins will get the precious three points. But it’s really not only about the 3 points. Pride and honour will be what’s at stake tomorrow evening. The magnitude and intensity of these two giants clashing is so huge that I, sitting in an entirely different continent, have struck off the days till “el clasico.” If your not Spanish, like myself, you do not understand what this match represents historically, it can seem baffling as to why this match is hyped up the way it is. I took the liberty to do some research on the matter a couple years ago.
A quick history lesson
A year after a humiliating defeat for the Spanish army in the Spanish-American war of 1888, a group of men (led by Joan Gamper came together to form a football club based in Barcelona. These were the beginnings of FC Barcelona as we know it today. With the Spanish Empire in a bit of turmoil , there was a strong sense of identity and local pride that was felt in Catalonia. And with a newly formed football club in their city, FC Barcelona became a symbol of Catalan nationalism.
During the time of the Spanish civil war, Spain was under the rule of the dictator Francisco Franco. Madrid, the capital of Spain somewhat represented the Spanish Political hierarchy. While Catalonia, at that time a more free thinking region, stood for republicanism, communism anarchism, syndicalism and federalism. So when Catalonia wanted to be recognised as an autonomous state it didn’t go down well with the dictator. Such was his oppression that the Catalan language and the Catalan flag was banned after the Civil War. The fact that Franco publicly supported Real Madrid intensified the bad feelings between the two clubs. Within the walls of the Nou Camp was one of the only places that Catalan was spoken; and the claret and blue Barca flag was a substitution for the banned red and yellow Catalonia flag. FC Barcelona became a symbol of freedom to the Catalan people, hence the term “Mes que un Club” (More than a club) was coined. As the late Sir Bobby Robson put it: “Catalonia is a nation and FC Barcelona its army.”
The situation reached it’s boiling point during the Spanish Civil War. In 1936 club President Josep Sunyol was murdered by Francoist troops. (Although his assassination was a political stunt, not really targeting the club itself). The injustices that Barca suffered at the hands of officials is also well documented. Most notably, in 1941 when Barcelona were ‘instructed’ to lose a match to Real Madrid. Out of protest, they went of on to lose the match by 11 goals to 1. Their goalkeeper was banned from football for the rest of his life.
The wait is almost over.. Here’s something to keep you going:
Barcelona 2-0 Real Madrid (08/09 Season)
Real Madrid 2-6 Barcelona (08/09 Season)
And if you’re interestd in the history: