El Clasico, Post-Franco
Since the days of Franco, the relationship between Real Madrid and Barcelona has been extremely hard to define. We cannot just call it a rivalry, as it would be a gross understatement of the passion and hatred shared by each football club for the other. Being the top two teams in Spain, they have been in direct confrontation for almost every major title over the last 60 years.
Although they are very similar in their performance, goals and ambitions, both football clubs are vastly different when it boils down to tradition and history. Madrid has been known to live by an extremely efficient business standpoint, where revenues and profits are equally important as champagne football and silverware. On the other hand, Barcelona has a very unique style and identity, based around nurturing and developing young players into world greats. Although this philosophy can be dated back to the 1960’s, it was the Johan Cryuff era in which Barcelona went from strength to strength, with young teams predominantly composed of youth teamers. This is obvious when we look at the current team coached by Pep Guardiola. The system seems like one of total football adopted and perfected by Johan Cryuff in the 90’s when he led Barca to a whole host of silverware.
Although both football clubs go into the season looking to win every title that they enter in, there is no greater glory than victory over the other in the El Clasico. In fact, even if either club won the League, or Champions League, but got trounced in the Clasico, the season would not be deemed as a great success. There would still be a dark cloud over the loser of this great battle, since bragging rights mean so much to the fans of each team.
Some of the greatest, most hotly contested, and intriguing games in the world of football have been in El Clasico. For instance, tensions were inflamed in 1995 when Barcelona was crushed 5-0 at the Bernabeu Stadium, as Zamarano’s first half hat-trick helped Real Madrid play Barcelona off the pitch.
However, not even that stood up to Barcelona’s 6-2 drubbing of Real at the end of the 2009 season. Even though Barca played this match between legs of their Champions League semifinal, they ran riot in the Spanish capital through goals from Henry, Messi, Puyol, and Pique. From there, Madrid went on to lose their next five league games, while Barcelona won the first major treble of trophies in Spain’s history. Clearly, the passions from the 1950s have not subsided, even though politically the games are no longer as significant.
Media as Influence Today
Ever since the emergence of the media in Spain, football has become more than just a game played on a grass pitch. In fact, media has had a huge influence on the global spread of the beautiful game. The media is often used as a tool to connect millions of people with the sport, and helps spread information on events on and off the football pitch.
Sometimes different section of the media can become associated with or biased towards a particular team. This has been the case in Spain for many decades. The national dailies Marca and AS in Madrid, and Sport in Barcelona have been used as a vehicle to promote the interests of their respective football teams. Ever since the famous Di Stéfano saga, these rival newspapers have locked horns and provided a vast array of controversial information to feed the begging public.
What happened in those days is no different now. In the last few years we have seen many instances of these newspapers spreading and increasing the bad blood between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Whether it is sport declaring the greatness of Barca and Catalonia, or Marca and AS advocating the dominance of Los Blancos, these dailies have pushed the El Clasico rivalry to new heights. With very different strategies employed in each area, both sides of the media agree on their dislike for the other.
These days the media has the power to cause so much turmoil in the football world. When it was 2005 and Madrid had not won a title for 3 consecutive years, it was Sport that took a swipe at the Spanish capital and Florentino Perez’s “galactico” policy. On the other hand, when Ronaldinho was caught partying night after night, Marca and AS were on deck to stir the waters and topple the Barca ship that had won the double the year before.
Even in transfers the media plays a huge role. Over the past few summers Real Madrid and Barca have been linked to a whole host of players. Granted they have a massive attraction effect on these world stars, but sometimes we get the feeling as if these are players that the respective newspapers want in each team. By unsettling players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the media was able to hasten the process by which these world stars move to Spain. Overall they play a huge effect in promoting the ideologies of their respective teams, but also are ever present in publishing all the dirt on the other. This influence has really taken the rivalry to new heights.
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