Barcelona and Madrid are the two largest cities in Spain - a country that many Catalans still don't subscribe to. In Barcelona and Catalunya at large, the independence movement is full of momentum while in the capital, Madrid, the thought of a democratic referendum to grant the Catalans their independence is adamantly dismissed. Needless to say, these two cities often find themselves at each other's throats and perhaps nowhere is this rivalry more evident than on the soccer pitch. Let's take a look at some of the more ugly moments from a rivalry as old as the sport itself.
The 1943 Match (Real Madrid 11 – 1 Barcelona)
In 1943, General Franco had accused Barcelona of showing a “lack of patriotism” during the civil war. These teams met in 1943 in the semi-final of the Generalissimo Cup. Barcelona held their heads high as they travelled to Madrid with a 3-0 lead. The second leg would be something for the history books and serve as a great example of why Franklin Foer(check out this book for a fascinating look at how soccer explains the world).
Moments before the start of the second leg, FC Barcelona was getting ready in the locker room. They had an unusual visitor - General Franco’s Head of State Security. The words that he greeted the team with are something that no Barcelona fan would soon forget. Put in a way that the whole team could understand, General Franco's messenger asked the Catalans to, “not forget that some of you are only playing because of the generosity of the regime that has forgiven you for your lack of patriotism.”
Real Madrid went on to win the match 11-1. Spanish newspapers viewed the result absurd but it is tough to also view it as anything other than abnormal.
Welcome home, Luis Figo
On November 23 2002, at the Nou Camp, Barcelona filled all 98,000 seats as they hosted their bitter rivals Real Madrid. This moment happens once a year in La Liga (often times they compete in the Copa Del Rey or UEFA Champions League in addition) but this time around, things were different. Luis Figo, once the Barcelona starlet and captain returned home - lining up for the opposition.
With 16 minutes left in the goalless match, Figo prepared to take a corner kick in front of a swarm of Barcelona supporters. Various objects were thrown towards him but he eventually took the kick which resulted in yet another corner on the opposite side.
As he walked towards the opposite corner, beer cans, lighters and plastic bottles were thrown his way. As he finally took the kick, there could be no mistaking what laid on the ground in front of him. There is no mistaking a pig’s head.
Jose Mourinho's Famous Eye Poke
For a manager that is often considered to be one of the best in the game, one would expect a little bit more control. If you have got this far, you've probably noticed a trend: Los Classicos often differ greatly from expectations.
Following what was a dirty challenge from Madrid’s Marcelo on Fabregas, both the players and the coaching staff from both sides were up in arms. They swarmed each other, word were exchanged and the self-titled “Special One” proceed to poke Tito Vilanova in the eye.