It’s rare that El Clasico fails to deliver, but even by the fixture’s own high standards, Barcelona and Real Madrid’s meeting back in November 2010 was pretty bonkers.
Going into the contest, Real looked ready to end Barça’s La Liga dominance. Los Blancos were top of the table – albeit by just one point – and knew that a result against their old foes would be a huge statement of intent. They also travelled to Catalonia fresh from a 5-1 win against Athletic Bilbao. Saying that, there opponents were in similarly impressive form, smashing UD Almeria 8-0 during the previous gameweek.
Did Real manage to get the job done? Nope. Far from it. Jose Mourinho’s side were instead humiliated, falling to a 5-0 defeat at Camp Nou which sent shockwaves around the world.
Here’s how it all went down.
The tone of the game was set when Lionel Messi hit the post from an impossible angle in the opening exchanges. Soon after, the Blaugrana would go ahead with Xavi scoring one of the stranger goals of his illustrious career.
With Barça prowling on the edge of the Real box, Andres Iniesta fizzed in low pass which deflected off of Marcelo and then Xavi’s backside, sitting up nicely for the Spaniard to lift it delicately over a stricken Iker Casillas.
The second goal was a neat encapsulation of what Pep Guardiola’s tiki-taka style was all about. The move began with false nine Messi dropping deep enough to receive the ball from centre-back Carles Puyol.
Five quick passes followed, before Xavi found David Villa with a spectacular crossfield spray. Pedro then slid in the resultant cross to make it 2-0. Wild celebrations followed with the goalscorer resembling a deranged gibbon, repeatedly trying to clamber on Villa’s back.
Then came the first of several multi-man brawls, caused by Cristiano Ronaldo and Guardiola treating us to some petulance straight off of the school playground. The Real forward gave his opposing manager a shove for preventing him from taking a throw-in, much to the dismay of a string of Barça and Real players. In retrospect, Victor Valdes’ reaction was particularly impressive. He sprinted all the way from his goal to aim some pointed words in Ronaldo’s general direction.
The next flashpoint involved Messi and Ricardo Carvalho with La Pulga flinging himself to the floor following an ‘elbow’ from Mourinho’s most trusted lieutenant. Throughout all of the pantomime antics, Barça never lost their grip on the game and made it 3-0 after the break when Carvalho’s victim threaded an incisive through ball into the path of Villa, who fired home.
Of course, if this goal was scored in 2020, it would’ve been ruled out for his soul patch being narrowly offside…
Soon after, Messi and Villa combined again to put the game beyond all doubt. That wasn’t all she wrote though. This iconic Clasico was kind enough to offer up one more goal and a Sergio Ramos red card before the full time whistle.
First up, substitute Jeffren tapped home in the 91st minute. Then, Ramos instigated the third brawl of proceedings, racking up a considerable charge sheet which included: teaming up with Lassana Diarra to chop Messi down, pushing Puyol in the face and giving Xavi a little slap after being given his matching orders.
It was the perfect ending to one of the most shocking Clasicos of all time.
Jeffren’s career took somewhat of a nosedive after scoring is side’s fifth goal in this iconic game.
After departing Barcelona in 2011, his list of subsequent clubs read like a student’s inter-railing trip in which they ran out of money after the first two destinations.
A spell at Sporting was followed by a return to Spain with Valladolid, before the Venezuelan turned out for Belgian side Eupen, Swiss team Grasshoppers and Cypriots’ AEK Larnaca. These days he can be found tearing it up in Croatia with Slaven Belupo.
It’s a far cry from El Clasico, that’s for sure.
Messi’s performance in this game was timeless. La Pulga had already shown glimpses of the supreme playmaker he would become but this was on another level.
His two assists for Villa’s brace were sublime and foreshadowed the other worldly vision that would characterise the second act of Messi’s career throughout the subsequent decade.
Ramos’ 12th career red card foreshadowed a lot more disciplinary trouble as well. 14 more dismissals to be exact.
As well as the aforementioned Jeffren – who I’d managed to completely remove from my memory in the last 10 years – there were a couple more players involved who have been lost to the annuls of time.
Take Real’s number 23 for instance. Mesut Ozil. Apparently he’s a humble Twitter admin these days. Weird.
Another one is Mahamadou Diarra. You know, the one that bizarrely popped up at Fulham a few years back. Well, he was also on the bench for Real, alongside his namesake, Lassana.
Despite the monumental gulf between the two sides in this game, the title race ended up being quite close. In the end, Barça clinched their third La Liga trophy in a row by just four points.
In the return Clasico, the two sides drew 1-1 with Messi and Ronaldo scoring a penalty each at the Bernabeu.
The following season, Real did finally end Barcelona’s stranglehold over Spanish football, securing the title and racking up 100 points in the process. Turns out the old saying is true. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.