On Saturday night planet football will come to a standstill.
Fans from all corners of the globe will make sure to jilt their loved-ones, put off the Christmas shopping and ignore all work, family and other duties for a couple of hours as Barcelona host Real Madrid in the first El Clasico of the 2011/12 season.
The show-stopping battle between the two great Spanish rivals will be over-hyped for everything that it’s worth. Pep Guardiola versus Jose Mourinho. Lionel Messi versus Cristiano Ronaldo. Madridstas versus Catalans. Tiki Taka versus the Galacticos project. Etc and so on.
For all neutrals though,Â all that people will want to see is an unforgettable game littered with unforgettable goals. And it is within that context that we’ve trawled through the history books and handpicked our selection of the top 10 goals in El Clasico history.
Please note, in order to try and head off any calls of bias we’ve chosen five Barcelona goals and five Real Madrid goals in our top ten. Further, please be aware that we have listed these goals in chronological order and not in any order of preference.
We expect there to be plenty of disagreement, so have your say by leaving us a comment below.
1.Â Johan Cruyff (Real Madrid vÂ Barcelona, February 1974) – During the early part of the Seventies there were few players who could hold a candle to the amazing talent of Johan Cruyff. Cruyff quickly won over the Barca fans when he told the European press he chose the Catalans over Real Madrid because he could not play for a club associated with the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. More important than his rhetoric however, Cruyff established himself as a Barca legend by helping the club to their first La Liga title since 1960 during the 1973/74 season, during which time he famously dribbled his way past three Real defenders to score during Barca’s incredible 5-0 demolition of the old enemy at the Santiago Bernabeu.
2.Â Diego Maradona (Real Madrid vÂ Barcelona, February 1984) – Diego Maradona may not have experienced the most glittering part of his career during his three years on the books at the Nou Camp, but the (arguably) greatest footballer ever to play the game did have one golden moment during El Clasico circa 1984. Showing all the pace, poise, touch and arrogance for which he was famed, Maradona silenced the Bernabeu by racing 50-yards, rounding the keeper, stopping on the line to beat another defender, and then cheekily sticking the ball in the net.
3.Â Santiago Aragon (Real Madrid v Barcelona, 1990) – When you think of all the great players who have featured in El Clasico few will bother to mention Santo Aragaon. The midfielder played only a handful of games for Los Blancos during the late 80s and early 90s, but the 1990 Spanish SuperCup propelled Aragon into a Madrid legend. Real defeated Barcelona 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Aragon stole the show with the third of the game as he lobbed Andoni Zubizarreta from almost 50-yards for his only goal in the Madrid first team.
4.Â Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid v Barcelona, February 2000) – Some may think that Roberto Carlos was one of the best free-kick takers of all-time. The truth is that for the majority of his career the human cannonball kept on trying to catch that elusive sweet-spot with his set-plays without success. Yet, on a rare occasion back in 2000, the Real legend managed to pull the rabbit out the hat at just the right time crashing home an unstoppable 30-yard howitzer to send the Bernabeu bananas.
5.Â Zinedine Zidane (Barcelona vÂ Real Madrid, March 2002) – Such has been the historical dominance of Real and Barcelona down the years that in recent times El Clasico hasn’t only been reserved for domestic consumption. In 2002 the enemies faced off in the semi-final of the Champions League and a certain Gallic genius silenced the Nou Camp by crafting an amazing golf-like shot from a bunker to chip keeper Bonano with Phillip Cocu snapping away at his ankles.
6.Â Raul Gonzalez (Real Madrid v Barcelona, May 2002) The return leg of the Champions League semi-final saw Raul add his own “Golazo” to Zidane’s stunner. Just before the interval a young Xavi Hernadez lost possession in his own half to Raul and, after steadying himself, the Madrid number seven cracked a wonder-strike into the top corner.
7.Â Xavi Hernandez (Real Madrid vÂ Barcelona, April 2004) – It’s reasons like this that Xavi is so adored in Catalunya. The midfield magician conjured up a genius goal back in 2004 as the Barcelona number six carried the ball 40-yards upfield before squaring to Ronaldinho, continuing his run into the box, and collected the Brazilian’s incredible up-and-over pass with a sublime volley that left a young Casillas flapping at thin air.
8.Â Ronaldinho (Real Madrid vÂ Barcelona, November 2005) – There are few things better in football that seeing the likes of Ronaldinho single-handedly destroying an opponent in full-flight. That’s exactly what the Bernabeu crowd witnessed in horror back in 2005 as the bucked-tooth wonder appeared to effortlessly glide across the turf and he skinned three Madrid defenders before planting a low shot into Casillas’s near post.
9.Â Julio Baptista (Real Madrid v Barcelona, December 2007)Â – Julio “the Beast” Baptista may not be one of the players who Real Madrid fans will remember too clearly down the ages, but he will always have this one memento to hold up when he reflects on his fifty-eight games he played for Madrid between 2005 and 2008. The chunky forward teamed up with Ruud van Nistelrooy in an unorthodox, but highly effective one-two before Baptista finished the move with an outstanding first-time outside-of-the-boot strike into the top corner that left Valdes flat on his backside.
10. Lionel Messi (Barcelona vÂ Real Madrid, April 2011) – Few meetings between the Spanish giants have been as important as the 2010/11 Champions League semi-final, and MessiÂ marked the ocassion with a solo stunner that will be rememebered for eternity. With just three minutes to go of the first leg, the FleaÂ dashed past five Real players, sprinted into the Madrid penalty area and slipped the ball smoothly past Iker Casillas. It was Messi’s 52nd goal of the season, and one of the great Champinos League moments.