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FC Barcelona – The rivalry with Real Madrid

As long as there have been sports teams, there have been rivalries. Whether it’s the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox or the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns, the two rival teams inevitably end up facing each other over and over again, forming a heated rivalry that delights fans of the sport. One such rivalry is between the Spanish soccer teams FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.

FC Barcelona (also known as Barça to their fans) and Real Madrid are two of the earliest Spanish soccer teams, both formed in the 1890s. From the start, the two teams were seen as representing two rival regions of Spain. Spain, the ancient kingdoms of Castile and Catalonia. Both teams were part of La Liga, a Spanish soccer league, and a rivalry that went far beyond soccer quickly took root.

It was during and after the Spanish Civil War that the rivalry acquired more political overtones. The dictator Francisco Franco banned all peripheral languages, such as Catalan, the language of Barcelona. For a long time, Catalonia had been associated with more progressive political trends and ideas, such as democracy, which was diametrically opposed to Franco’s dictatorial regime. FC Barcelona suffered for being part of the Catalan culture. Real Madrid, on the other hand, was seen by many Spaniards (and Catalans in particular) as the “established” club. Although Franco seemed to favor Real Madrid, members of both teams suffered under his regime.

The fierce rivalry continued into the 1950s when both clubs sought to sign Alfredo Di Stefano to play for them. Real Madrid finally won and Alfredo Di Stefano led them to many victories. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid met twice in the European Cup in the 1960s, with Real Madrid winning one and FC Barcelona winning the other. The two teams met again for a player in 2000 when Luis Figo left FC Barcelona and signed for Real Madrid. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid met again in the UEFA Champions League semi-final in 2002, with Real Madrid winning. The Spanish media dubbed the match “El Partido del Siglo”.

In the mid-2000s, the rivalry rose to new heights when it took on its own name, El Clásico. The term El Clásico was traditionally assigned to any South American soccer rivalry, but the growth of soccer in the Americas coupled with the rivalry of these two great teams led to the coinage of the term applied to FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. This was primarily a marketing scheme communicated through GolTV, a satellite channel dedicated exclusively to soccer, but the term has been adopted by fans around the world.

El Clásico shows no signs of slowing down. To this day, the two teams inevitably seek each other out on the pitch to find out who is the best team in Spain. Sometimes FC Barcelona wins and sometimes Real Madrid wins, but in the end it’s the football fans around the world who win every time these two giants meet on the pitch.

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