The lowdown on Real Madrid

The lowdown on Real Madrid

A lot that you probably knew already, and a lot you probably didn't, to get you in the mood for Sunday's El Clásico

Barça take on Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu this Sunday at 9.00pm CET, and here’s a closer look at the other half of football’s most famous rivalry.

The club

Originally founded in 1902, curiously by two Catalan brothers, Madrid FC became Real (‘Royal’) Madrid when it was granted the title by King Alfonso XIII in 1920. The club has gone to win more European Cup/Champions League titles than any other (13), and has also won La Liga a record 33 times, although Barça, now with 26, are rapidly closing the gap.

The colours

Madrid have always worn an all-white strip. The reason is simple. In the early days of football, everyone wore white and teams were told apart by wearing coloured sashes. As football grew more serious, teams started to wear different coloured shirts instead, but Madrid decided to carry on wearing white.

In fact, one of the many unconfirmed theories for the origin of the Barça colours follows a similar vein. In the ‘old days’, teams in Barcelona typically wore red or blue sashes – and when FC Barcelona was founded, the players simply combined the two colours as one. There are plenty of rival theories though.

Also, although nowadays it would be unthinkable for Barça to wear their biggest rival’s colours, the club has actually worn white on several occasions in the past. Before the spectacular away kit designs of today, it was normal practice for visiting teams to wear white in the case of a colour clash. The last time Barça did so was against Ipswich Town on 7 March 1979.

The stadium

Originally opened as the Nuevo Estadio Chamartín in 1947 and renamed after club president Santiago Bernabéu in 1955, this is the place where Italy beat West Germany to win the World Cup in 1982. With a capacity of 81,044, it’s huge, but still seats some 17,000 people fewer than Camp Nou.


Head to head

The rivalry between Barça and Real Madrid needs no introduction. There simply isn’t anything in world football that compares with it, and we did the research to prove that. They don’t call it El Clásico for nothing.

However, that name is actually only a recent phenomenon. The term was inherited from South America, where it was used to describe such games as Boca v River and Nacional v Peñarol, and has only been used in reference to this game for the last twenty years or so.

Barça have only lost one of the last ten league meetings between the sides, and curiously it’s at the Bernabéu where they have performed best in recent years. Win on Sunday and that’ll be a fabulous fifth win in a row in ‘enemy territory’ (six counting last season's cup game).  

Form guide

Like Barça, Madrid dropped a few unexpected points early on, but both sides inevitably picked up the pace and have put some space between themselves and the chasing pack. Madrid claimed first place in January, but following a draw at home to Celta and defeat at Levante, they trail Barça by two points going into El Clásico.

Madrid’s Copa del Rey run was ended by 4-3 defeat at home to Real Sociedad, while their Champions League future is hanging on a thread after they were beaten 2-1 at home to Manchester City midweek.

The players

Most capped internationals: Sergio Ramos (Spain, 170), Luka Modrić (Croatia, 127), Eden Hazard (Belgium, 106), Toni Kroos (Germany, 96), Gareth Bale (Wales, 83), Karim Benzema (France, 81), Thibaut Courtois (Belgium, 79), James Rodríguez (Colombia, 76), Raphaël Varane (France, 64), Marcelo (Brazil, 58)

Top scorers 2019/20 (all competitions): Karim Benzema (18), Rodrygo (7), Sergio Ramos (7)

The manager

Widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Zinedine Zidane was a huge star at both Juventus and Real Madrid and the hero of France’s first ever World Cup triumph in 1998.

He has only ever worked as a manager at Real Madrid, who he guided to an unprecedented three Champions League titles in a row, but resigned in 2018. However, following Madrid’s poor form, he was persuaded to return in March of last year.

Força Barça
Força Barça

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