Real Madrid and Barcelona will clash in La Liga for the first time since April on Saturday, and it may be a must-win Clasico for Zinedine Zidane’s side if they wish to keep the title race alive.
Since losing to Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana at the start of the campaign, Barca have roared ahead of their rivals and sit 11 points clear of them in the Spanish top flight — albeit having played a game extra.
The visit to the Santiago Bernabeu, though, has always been the most challenging test of their season.
In fact — despite their undoubted greatness — Barca are still chasing Madrid in a number of categories when the history of the two clubs is compared head-to-head, though they have the edge in some areas too.
Goal takes a look at how the biggest institutions in club football have compared over the years.
REAL MADRID VS BARCELONA: HEAD-TO-HEAD
Saturday’s match will be the 236th competitive Clasico, though Madrid and Barca have met another 34 times in friendlies and other exhibition matches.
As things stand, Los Blancos have the edge when it comes to the head-to-head record, but it is very tight. They are four wins ahead of Barca overall and just three better off in league matches.
In other competitions, the sample size is smaller. Barca have the advantage in the 33 games played in the Copa del Rey, while Madrid are ahead by a hair on the rare occasions these rivals have been drawn together in the Champions League or European Cup.
Since Barca made Pep Guardiola their coach in the summer of 2008, though, the tide has been turning.
In La Liga, Barca have won 11 of the Clasicos played since Guardiola’s appointment, drawing three and losing four. They also won the 2010-11 Champions League semi-final, which was the first time the clubs have met in that competition since 2002.
THE TROPHY CABINETS
Despite Barca’s period of dominance under Guardiola, Madrid still have the bragging rights when it comes to the trophy cabinet, too.
Los Blancos have won 33 league championships — a Spanish record — and remain nine ahead of the Blaugrana. They are also well clear when it comes to the Champions League, with 12 to Barca’s five.
Barca have won the Copa del Rey 10 times more than Madrid, though, and you can see their recent strength in the fact that they have matched their rivals’ three Club World Cups — a competition that only started in 2000.
Again, a closer look at more recent history presents a more flattering picture for Barcelona.
Since the 1990-91 season, they have won La Liga 14 times to Madrid’s eight. Barca have claimed the European crown five times in the same period, with Madrid just ahead on six.
Both clubs endured a barren spell continentally in the 1970s and 1980s as English, Italian and German clubs dominated, but the difference in the Clasico competitors’ European records can be attributed to the two decades before that.
Madrid cleaned up through the early years of the European Cup, winning it five times in a row between 1956 and 1960 and again in 1966. They also dominated La Liga, winning it 18 times between 1950 and 1980 to Barca’s five.
COMPARING INDIVIDUAL HONOURS
The current era of football has been defined by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as much as it has by Real Madrid and Barcelona as clubs.
The pair of superstars have battled it out year in, year out for the Ballon d’Or ever since Ronaldo decided to leave Manchester United for La Liga. After Ronaldo’s most recent win, they are tied on five apiece.
It is similarly tight between the two clubs over the course of history when it comes to this award for the best player in the world.
Barca are just in front, on 11 to Madrid’s 10. Johan Cruyff — who, with three wins, is closest to Ronaldo and Messi, along with Michel Platini — won it twice in a Blaugrana shirt, and Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Hristo Stoichkov and Luis Suarez (the elder) also received it.
After Alfredo di Stefano won two and Raymond Kopa another in consecutive years in the 1950s, Madrid endured something of a barren run — something it is amusing to reflect upon now given their modern-day fame for signing ‘Galacticos’.
Their next Ballon d’Or did not come until 2000 and it may be contentious to categorise it solely as a Madrid win given it went to Luis Figo, who had spent half of the year on the other side of the rivalry before his shock move to the capital.
Ronaldo Nazario and Fabio Cannavaro were then honoured before Cristiano and Messi’s takeover.