New Delhi: El Clasico is without any shadow of a doubt, the biggest fixture on the annual football calendar. The history, drama and fervor linked to this duel is second only to a FIFA World Cup final. Over the years, some of world football's greatest players have donned the Real and Barca colors to convert this match into a sporting spectacle. As Real Madrid get set to host Barcelona for the first El Clasico of the 2014-15 season, we take you down memory lane to a unique moment in the history of this fierce rivalry.
The match between Real and Barca on November 19 in 2005 was the cynosure of all eyes. Apart from a galaxy of superstars that attracted record viewing figures, the two team were separated by just a point in the La Liga table. The Catalans had gathered 22 points from their first 11 games.
The Los Blancos, playing infront of an adoring home crowd fielded all their Galacticos - Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Robinho, Raul and Ronaldo. Barcelona started with all their homegrown starts. Interestingly, an 18-year-old Lionel Messi too was part of that team. He though, was in the the shadow of the Brazilian magician Ronaldinho, who clearly was Barca's main man.
As the match kicked off, Frank Rijkard's Barcelona immediately stamped their authority on the pitch. His young, quick and technically efficient team was proving to be too good on the night for the ageing Real "legends". Madrid reject Samuel Eto'o broke the deadlock inside just 15 minutes. Messi provided the assist as the Cameroon international put the ball past Iker Casillas after a smart turn.
It was evident from the first half, that the real danger for Madrid came from Ronaldinho. The ever smiling Brazilian was in his pomp and clearly the best player on the pitch and possibly on the planet. The two teams went into the half time break with Barca leading 1-0 and Madrid not having even registered an effort on goal.
The second half has since been regarded as the greatest display of individual brilliance in the history of the El Clasico. Ronaldino picked up the ball at the halfway point as the game reached the 60-minute mark. He began running at the Real defense from the left and dribbled his way past them to reach the box in a couple of seconds. Ramos and Helguera were left in his wake as he glided by them, wrong-footed Casillas and doubled Barca's advantage.
The stunned Bernabeu crowd was only recovering from that moment of genius, that Ronaldinho scored an eerily similar goal 20 minutes after his first. The Brazilian again ran at the Real defense with speed and swagger, almost as if they did not exist or matter. He waltzed past Ramos again, opened up his body and side-footed the ball around Casillas for his second goal to put Barca 3-0 inside the backyard of their fiercest rivals.
Spain's number one keeper was on his knees, almost crestfallen in a moment of helplessness. His defense almost waved the white flag as they surrendered to the genius of the smiling assassin. Sergio Ramos has probably never been embarrassed as much by an opposing player. He along with Helguera felt the full force of the Ronaldinho storm that night as the duo halfheartedly stuck out their legs to stop Brazilian charging. It was almost as though they knew him getting past them was inevitable.
As soon as Ronaldinho began celebrating that second goal, a section of the Madridistas stood up and began applauding his brilliance. This was a rare moment sporting history as any. Not after the legendary Diego Maradona, was any Barca player given a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeu. Here was a man who had just torn Real Madrid apart and the home fans, almost reluctantly had to acknowledge the brilliance of their tormentor. Probably, even the Madrid faithful realized they had witnessed a 'once in a lifetime' display of skill and audacity, and that this was a moment to not be blinded by the bitterness of the rivalry. It was a time, a moment in history, to indulge themselves.
Since, that November night, no player has ever been given this honor by the Madrid fans.