Getting us started at Number 5 is the El Clasico clash between the Spanish giants at Camp Nou. This was also coincidentally Jose Mourinho’s first Clasico in charge of Real Madrid. The team from the Spanish capital were outplayed from the start with Messi running riot in the Madrid back-line, thrashing them 5-0. Sergio Ramos launched into a crunching tackle on the Argentine in the dying embers of the game, sending him tumbling on the ground. Both sides rushed towards the referee, ensuing a verbal spat between the Spanish players of both parties. Even today, Ramos and Pique harbor resentment towards one another. At the same time, senior teammates, Xavi and Casillas, texted each other to bridge differences.
For our Number 4, we move away from El Clasico (not for too long though) onto the Seville Derby. The 2006 clash between Sevilla and Real Betis saw the sides go hammer and tongs in a thrilling five-goal encounter. With the match at 3-2 in Sevilla’s favor, Real Betis were denied a penalty for debatable handball in the build-up to the play, leading to flare-ups among players.
Coming in at Number 3 on our list is a season finale clash between Real Madrid and Mallorca, with Madrid trailing Barca by 3 points but a superior head-to-head record. Madrid had to win if they were to lift a La Liga title in David Beckham’s final season in the Spanish capital. Madrid trailed 1-0 at the 75 minutes mark, with an unfortunate injury sending off Beckham. This laid the path for an inspired substitution in Jose Reyes, scoring two quick goals to give Beckham the farewell he deserved.
At Number 2 on our list is another clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Camp Nou. This match marked the return of former Ballon D’Or winner, Luis Figo, to Camp Nou but this time, in the whites of Madrid. Every time Figo would approach the corner flag, missiles of packets, bottles were hurled at him. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. While taking a corner, a pig’s severed head was tossed towards the Portuguese international! The message from Barca fans for their former hero/traitor was as clear as day.
Like most Top 5 lists of Spanish Football – Number 1 on our list is a powerhouse clash between teams from Spanish Capital, Madrid and Catalonia Capital, Barcelona. For this match, we go back to 1943 when Madrid thrashed Barca 11-1, but events of that day hold significance even today. Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain, and in a recent vote, had elected to be independent from Spain. However, the Spanish Government did not consider this voting as legitimate sparking widespread protests, much like back in 1943. Spain was ruled by a dictator, General Franco, who had taken a keen interest in football and had accused the Catalonia people of “lack of patriotism.” He went on to remark that Barcelona players should feel lucky to be allowed to play in Spain. It left a sour taste for already distanced Catalonian people. That feeling is still reflected everyday Barcelona step into Camp Nou to face their Spanish opponents. Football in Spain, much like other places, means a lot more than just a game!