Barcelona and Real Madrid is one of the greatest rivalries in world sport, with El Clasico one of the fixtures that football fans around the globe look out for every single season.
Barcelona were founded in 1899 by Swiss immigrant Joan Gamper, while Real Madrid formed in 1902 as a breakaway club following conflict among members in the city’s existing football society. But It wasn’t actually until 1920 that Madrid were granted use of the ‘Real’ title by King Alfonso XIII.
The first recorded match between the two clubs and therefore the first ever Clasico was played in May 1902, just a couple of months after Madrid Football Club, as it was then, came into being.
The game took place at the 1902 Copa de la Coronación, a tournament held to celebrate the coronation of the aforementioned Alfonso XIII, who has been king since birth but didn’t take the throne or full powers until his 16th birthday that month.
It isn’t officially recognised by the Spanish football federation (RFEF) but can still be considered a first meeting between Barcelona and Madrid, who were paired in the semi-finals. Barcelona won 3-1 and Gamper himself even scored one of the goals.
In the years, before La Liga was founded in 1929, Barcelona and Madrid played each other in various friendlies and exhibitions, but would meet for the first time in an officially recognised competition in the 1916 Copa del Rey semi-finals.
Barcelona won 2-1, but Madrid prevailed 4-1 in the second leg a week later, forcing a replay of the tie in the days before aggregate score-lines counted. The replay finished 6-6, before Madrid eventually won a second replay 4-2, with Santiago Bernabeu scoring across all four games.
More friendlies followed, as well as another Copa del Rey clash in 1926, but the first Clasico in La Liga came in February 1929. Madrid won 2-1 in Barcelona. The Catalans had dominated the burgeoning rivalry up to that point and won the reverse fixture in Madrid later that year.
The first Clasico to be played at the Bernabeu, named for Real’s legendary striker and opened in 1947, was played in September 1948 and was won 2-1 by Barcelona. Camp Nou opened a decade later in 1957 and the first Clasico there in February 1958 was conversely won by Real.
Barcelona and Real Madrid have met in every competition over the years, including three two-legged ties in Spain’s short-lived and unsuccessful Copa de la Liga in the 1980s.
The first Clasico on a European stage came in 1960 in a European Cup semi-final. Real, who were already reigning four-time back-to-back champions of the fledgling competition, won 3-1 home and away over the two legs and lifted the trophy again at the end of that season.
However, in the first round of the following season’s competition, Barcelona became the first ever club to knock Real out of the European Cup by securing a 4-3 aggregate win.
To date, there have been 245 official Clasico games in competitive settings and it is pretty much honours even, even after more than a century. Real Madrid have 97 wins to Barcelona’s 96, with 52 draws. Even the goals are similar, with 408 scored by Real and 400 for Barcelona.
Accounting for Barcelona’s early dominance when the vast majority of the Clasico games were exhibitions or friendlies, there have been 277 meetings between the two in total, including non-official games, with the Catalans victorious on 115 occasions and Los Blancos winning 101.
The first ever women’s Clasico was played in October 2020 in Real Madrid’s first season, having only launched their women’s team earlier that year. Barcelona are the dominant force in Spanish women’s football and thumped their newfound rivals 4-0.