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Bodzilla29
11-18-2004, 02:16 PM
Real Madrid vs. Barcelona is more than just a game - it's history

Paul Cannon / FOX Sports World
Posted: 1 day ago

'Just hearing the name Real Madrid makes me want to vomit...'

So said ex-Barcelona forward and full-time grump, Hristo Stoichkov. Such a comment is not just an isolated gripe by a player with a grudge. It is the nature of the relationship between Spain's two most celebrated football clubs.

When Real Madrid's players walk out onto the Nou Camp's hallowed turf in front of 90,000 fans on Saturday night they will be entering the realm of history. The memories of past incidents and the ghosts of legendary players haunt this one like no other game.

On one side there is royal Madrid, forever associated with the regime of Generalissimo Franco, and on the other is Futbol Club Barcelona, a symbol of Catalan autonomy.

The 68 years since Franco assumed power of Spain have seen such tumultuous contests between the two teams that the tie has established itself as the classic game in Europe.

Barcelona players to have graced the derby include 'Lobsterman' Pepe Samitier, the local striker who scored 326 goals in the golden age of the 1920s and was immortalized in the tangos of Carlos Gardel — Ladislao Kubala, the mythical hard-drinking Hungarian target-man of the '50s who distributed his earnings like confetti among the bars of Barcelona — and Johan Cruyff, the Dutchman who brought 'Total football' and an inferno of cigarette smoke (he smoked 40 a day) to Catalunya in the 1970s.

Then came Diego Maradona, one-man cocaine industry and possibly the world's greatest ever player, for a fleeting visit in the '80s. Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, Romario and 'Pep' Guardiola under the stewardship of Cruyff, formed the so-called 'Dream Team' of the 1990s which was involved in some memorable tussles.

For the merenges of Madrid, an Argentine called Alfredo Di Stefano inspired five title triumphs in five years during the '50s and '60s and was a great scourge of Barcelona, not least because they had hoped to buy him, but were checked by some dodgy dealings. Ferenc Puskas, 'the magical Magyar' of the '60s — Emilio Butragueno, 'the vulture' who terrorised La Liga in the '80s — and Hugo Sanchez, the acrobatic Aztec of the nineties side. Each of these men strode onto this, the ultimate stage in Spanish football and secured a place in legend with their sublime, timeless skill.

And from 1936 to 1975 there was of course, Franco, who in his brutal subjugation of the Catalan region and outlawing of the Catalan language, developed a deep suspicion for the Barcelona club, which was viewed as anti-Spain.

Over the years of Franco's rule, FC Barcelona developed a justified paranoia that referees and league officials were against the club. Farcical decisions and exaggerated bans and fines against Barca were as common as condiments in a curry. Meanwhile Real Madrid's players unfairly had to carry the burden of being political representatives of the regime which favored it.

These political and cultural differences caused mayhem at matches. During one match in 1970, Barcelona fans became so incensed by the referee's performance they threw 25,000 seats onto the field. In another game, a Fascist troop attempted to arrest the Barcelona groundsman, Angel Mur, on grounds of being a communist. And more recently there was the notorious tossing of a pig's head onto the field at the feet of Luis Figo, who had betrayed Barca to sign for Real. Figo politely declined, having already eaten his dinner.

So to Saturday's game and possibly one of the most outrageous collections of talent seen on Mediterranean shores since the days of Homer. Zidane, whose attacking skills would have made FC Troy quake in their boots, Roberto Carlos, a man to make the Trojan wall part with his explosive left foot, Ronaldo racing forward at top speed into the Trojan defense, with the diminutive warrior Owen awaiting his turn, concealed in the horse. Or maybe not.

Nevertheless, how Madrid had torn Albacete apart on Sunday night! Ronaldo broke forward on the Alba defense again and again like a relentless tide. Gradually Albacete eroded and Madrid hit six. Ronaldo plundered two, Raul, Zidane, Samuel and Owen, one each.

Zidane pulled the strings in midfield, leaving opponents with little more to do than stamp on his shadow in frustration. In one moment the ball was played out a few yards behind him on the wing. Without slowing his pace he trailed his right foot behind and flicked the ball ahead and into obedience of his rhythm. What a player — right up there with Kubala, Di Stefano, Cruyff and Maradona.

Equally worth a place among the greats is Ronaldinho. The absurdly smiley Brazilian would have had serious problems had he been faced by Kevin Dillon's character in 'Platoon.' 'What are you smiling at? Huh? Stop smiling goddamit!'

Fortunately though, the good-natured South American is not an extra in a Vietnam movie. He is one of the greatest soccer players in the world, capable of a single moment of genius to rescue any game. On Sunday he almost, almost, saved a point from the wreckage of Barca's visit to Real Betis. With the score at 2-1 in favor of Betis, Ronaldinho plucked a harmless ball out of the air guided it between two defenders and performed a mesmeric series of twists and dummies before squeezing a shot just beyond the post. The score remained the same and Barca lost their first game of the season.

The opposing fortunes of the two clubs in last weekend's games makes for an ever better clasico, now that only four points separates them. A Barcelona win and seven points will separate them. A Madrid victory will narrow the gap to one point.

As Spain gears itself up for the game, everyone has their own opinions about the outcome. I've only got room for one here, but it's from Johan Cruyff:

'If Barcelona plays as it has done against Milan and Deportivo (La Coruna), if it can impose the same fast-paced football, then Madrid will have to play it's best game of the season to come out of the Nou Camp alive.'

Amazingly, as many as 15,000,000 Spaniards could lose the chance to watch the game due to a dispute between broadcasting firms FORTA and TVE. One region which will definitely get to see the game is Catalunya, whose local channel TV 3 will be showing it live.

Whoever watches it will be on the edge of their seat. Football doesn't get much more glamorous, or political, than this. Enjoy.

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Unlucky Spanish bast*rds. Luckily I will see the game from a live feed. You should all watch if you get the chance, 2:30pm on Saturday. I think.

Migs182005
11-18-2004, 02:28 PM
Real Madrid baby :cool:

Bodzilla29
11-18-2004, 02:33 PM
Barca! Have always had a soft spot for them and Milan. Loved Dutch players growing up and both clubs seem to have been littered with the best Dutch players of the past. Have never liked Real Madrid, and Florentino Perez is just an ***.

iceblizzard69
11-18-2004, 02:39 PM
I won't be able to watch Barca crush Real. :(

Mebeverine
11-18-2004, 07:19 PM
This is such a big game, that over here in England 10 of us are getting together, ordering Chinese and KFC ( :D ) drinking a lot of beer and watching this game. Massive. Can't wait.

Barce 2-0 please. Always loved em.

Migs182005
11-18-2004, 09:46 PM
tough crowd :lol:

Pink_Dove
11-19-2004, 10:22 PM
Barca all the way :cool:
IMO Real has been one the most overrated team in football these last 2 years.
They haven't replaced Makelele and their backline is suspect.
Barca inked 2 of my favourite players this summer so i've got to go with them
Larsson and Giuly :D

Pink_Dove
11-20-2004, 07:14 PM
Thoughts on the game:

- Interesting comments from the Gol analyst. Talking about the body language: Barca looked like they were enjoying their football while Real looked tense.

- Ronaldinho is magic, terrific ball skills, a wonder to watch. I was impressed with the chemistry he had with Deco. Doesn't hurt they both speak Portuguese but Deco hasn't been in Barca very long.

- Eto'o has pace out of this world. He was named African footballer of the year and after today's game (and the season he's had so far) deserves it.

- Guti was brutal. Zidane is the only one who knows what's going on in that midfield. Guti and Becks were roaming around not knowing were to go and they've been doing that for some time. Figo is always looking for the highlight dribble on the right side. He looks brilliant for 10 minutes then disappears for 20.

- Roberto Carlos's extra pounds are catching up to him. He's always distinguished himself with his darting runs forward but I didn't see any of that today. I actually thought Belotti for Barca was better.

Finally Bodz and Meb, I'd like to know your thoughts on the Figo to Chelsea rumours (and the game of course) ?

Mebeverine
11-21-2004, 10:57 AM
Figo won't go to Chelsea. I haven't heard anything about that for a good year now.

The game was good, but I really felt that Real played all wrong. Their midfielders just weren't willing to dig in. Zidane was the worst of the lot - he moped around off the ball.

Seriously, was Raul even playing?

The fact is that both teams are full of fair-weather players. Neither of thema re going to win the Champions League because neither can boast a team of players who are going to be there when the going gets tough. Look at Juventus and Chelsea who are the other form teams in Europe: how hard do their midfields work defensively? I would fancy either of thema gaisnt Barce or Real at the moment.

Barce however, can do so MORE than Real because Marquez and Xavi are so under-rated.

I loved the game and as a Barce fan it was a lot of fun. But will Ronaldhino still be grinning like a madman when he becomes Zidane of last night? IN the Champions League, Italian and English teams will try and do to Barce what they did to Madrid last night constrict them and squeeze them. And when they do, it will have a similar effect to that whcih Barcelona produced last night.