The most eagerly awaited clashes of the Spanish footballing calendar are the FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid fixtures, known around the world as “el clasico”, with bitter rivalry between the teams dating back decades.
The matches are more often than not played before capacity crowds with fans from all over the world travelling to watch, while “el clasico” is broadcast across the globe and one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
About Real Madrid
The club picked up the “Real” prefix, which means “Royal” in Spanish, in 1920 under the decree of Alfonso XIII although during the time of the Second Republic (1932) the club was renamed Madrid FC. The team came runners up to Barcelona in the very first Spanish League season (1929) after heading the table all season and won its first league title in 1932.
Recent & forthcoming FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid fixtures
Rivalry between the clubs is down to national politics, with FC Barcelona representing Catalan language and culture, while Real Madrid is linked to centralism centred on Madrid that would prefer to promote a uniform Spain without local language and customs.
It probably doesn’t help that Franco’s troops executed the president of FC Barcelona in 1936 during the commencement of the Spanish Civil War, or that Real Madrid was seen as the establishment club during the Franco Dictatorship that followed, during which time Catalan and other languages were banned throughout Spain. However, it is also true that Rafael Sánchez Guerra, Real Madrid’s president during the Spanish Civil War, refused to leave Madrid as it fell to Franco and after being imprisoned by the regime he escaped and fled to Paris.
Santiago Bernabéu stadium
Real Madrid’s stadium, the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, is named after former club chairman Santiago Bernabéu Yeste who was instrumental in building the club into one of the top two in Spain and one of the biggest clubs anywhere in the world following the civil war.
Currently with a capacity of more than 85,000, the stadium was inaugurated in 1947 and is the second largest stadium in Spain and third largest in Europe; only Camp Nou and Wembley are larger, although in early 2014 the club unveiled plans to redevelop the stadium to increase capacity to 90,000 and improve facilities. The current plans, estimated to cost €400 million, will feature a retractable roof, while the club aims to raise revenue through a naming deal with a sponsor.