The First Division of the Spanish football league, known generally as “La Liga”, is underway for the 2013/14 season, with FC Barcelona heading the league after 2 matches. El Clasico, or “The Classic” is the name given in football to any match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona and is always one of the most followed club football matches in the world, watched by hundreds of millions of people. Real Madrid and Barcelona’s rivalry runs very deep, not only because of the battles they endure on the field, but for reasons which delve deeper beneath the surface of mere sporting rivalry.
The forming of the two clubs coincided with one of the most turbulent periods of Spanish history. General Franco’s revolt against the Second Spanish Republic saw FC Barcelona put to the top of the list of organizations to be purged by the National Faction, whilst Madrid’s ‘centralizing tendencies’ were opposed vigorously by their rivals. The two clubs still represent the clash between nationalist Spain (Madrid) and the struggle for Catalan independence (Barcelona).
On the field, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the two dominant teams in Spain and among the best in Europe. They boast probably the two best players in the world in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and have the two highest wage bills in sport.
The new football season offers plenty of intriguing, novel elements to the Clasico rivalry, starting with the arrival of two new managers in the form of Tata Martino and Carlo Ancelotti. Martino’s appointment at Barcelona’s Nou Camp in place of Tito Vilanova, who was forced to resign through illness, should not change a great deal. Ancelotti’s tactical impact at Madrid will be far greater. Jose Mourinho, who has now rejoined Chelsea, tended to adopt a counter-attacking style based on organisation, pace and power. This approach was never particularly popular with the fans at the Bernabeu. Ancelotti has already spoken of his desire to instil a more exciting brand of football.
Spanish football, and Real Madrid and Barcelona in particular, is followed by millions of fans in the UK who admire the quality of the football played. For many, a stadium tour of the CampNou or the Bernabeu is a “must” when visiting the cities. Both clubs offer tours and the CampNou has an excellent interactive museum too. For the lucky visitors whose stay coincides with a home match, tickets for both clubs are bookable on-line in the UK. Both clubs enjoy locations which are easily accessible from the city centre on public transport.
Whatever the outcome of the matches played between the two teams this season, we can be sure that the rivalry between the clubs and also between the cities of Madrid and Barcelona, will continue to be as strong as ever.