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by Matt Gault
El Clasico is football’s ultimate blockbuster fixture. Throughout the years, when Barcelona and Real Madrid clash we are usually treated to some of the finest individual and team performances, the most heated brawls, and electrifying contests that live long in the memory.
But what makes this great fixture stand above the rest in world football is the quality of goals. From outstanding solo runs and perfectly constructed team goals to cracking free-kicks and long-ranged missiles, El Clasico has produced some of the greatest goals football has ever seen. Ahead of a potentially decisive fixture on Sunday night, we bring you the top 10 goals in modern El Clasico history.
Top 10 Goals in Modern El Clasico History
10) Ronald Koeman – Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid (8/1/1994)
Koeman was always regarded as one of the greatest goalscoring defenders the games has ever seen. His ability to strike a ball with such freakish power and venom propelled him to the top of the La Liga scoring charts during his six years at the Nou Camp – he scored 102 goals in 345 games.
Although Barcelona’s 5-0 victory over Real in January 1994 will always be regarded as Romario’s finest hour at the Nou Camp, Koeman also left an indelible mark with a rocket of a free-kick. Lining the ball up just outside the penalty area, Koeman sprinted up and lashed the ball straight into the top corner, sending the fans behind the goal into a frenzy and leaving Real’s keeper, Buyo, with his hands on his hips and shaking his head in disbelief.
The truth is no goalkeeper would have saved Koeman’s set-piece. It was utterly unstoppable.
9) Roberto Carlos – Real Madrid 3-0 Barcelona (26/2/2000)
Of course, Barca weren’t the only side to boast a defender with an immensely powerful free-kick in his arsenal. Roberto Carlos established himself as one of world football’s dead-ball masters and he saved one of his best for Real’s bitter rivals in this La Liga clash in February 2000.
After only five minutes – while the Bernabeu crowd were still settling into their seats – Carlos stepped up and scorched a 35-yarder past the Barca wall and into the net.
It was an outrageously powerful strike that screamed through the air and sailed in majestically, prompting the Madrid fans to erupt in celebration. Real romped to a 3-0 victory but it was Carlos’ breathtaking free-kick that shellshocked them and set Los Blancos en route to victory.
8) Santiago Aragon – Real Madrid 4-1 Barcelona (12/12/1990)
Sometimes goals are memorable just for the sheer audacity that created them. In this Supercopa tie in 1990, Real Madrid stamped their superiority over a despairing Barcelona in a comprehensive 4-1 dismantling of the Catalans. Already 3-1 up and cruising to a comfortable aggregate victory, Santiago Aragon decided that Barca’s humiliation was not yet complete.
The Madridista playmaker picked up the ball in the centre-circle and spotted Andoni Zubizarreta straying off his line. Despite having space to roam into in front of him, Aragon instead controlled the ball and lobbed the legendary keeper from 45 yards.
The chip was executed with such unerring precision that it evaded the stopper’s gloves, even when he had a few seconds to scramble back and prevent the midfielder from embarrassing him. His efforts were futile however, as Aragon succeeded in scoring one of the cheekiest El Clasico goals of all time.
7) Romario – Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid (8/1/1994)
Not to be outdone by Koeman’s free-kick, Romario produced a clinic of forward play against Madrid, scoring a wonderful hat-trick in his greatest game for the Catalan giants. Receiving the ball on the edge of the area, the Brazilian spun sharply and dragged the ball in mesmeric fashion around Rafael Alkorta before slotting it confidently into the bottom corner.
Romario put on a masterclass in one of Barcelona’s greatest ever victories in El Clasico and this goal stood as the high watermark of the striker’s confidence and skill.
6) Gareth Bale – Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona (16/4/14)
If there was ever a goal to sum up Gareth Bale, this was it. With extra-time looming in the Copa del Rey final, in what was a tense encounter, the flying Welshman popped up with an astonishing solo effort that left the Barcelona players stunned and gifted Madrid their first cup success since 2011.
Latching onto a Luka Modric pass, Bale blitzed past a helpless Marc Bartra, galloping through the technical area and back onto the pitch, maintaining his composure to slot the ball under Pinto.
It was a goal that demonstrated exactly why Madrid had splashed world record sums on the former Spurs winger. The goal proved significant too: after claiming the Copa del Rey, Madrid went on to triumph over city rivals Atletico in the Champions League final and win La Decima.
5) Ronaldinho – Real Madrid 0-3 Barcelona (19/11/2005)
Watching Ronaldinho at the peak of his powers and in full flight against Real Madrid was a thing of such unbridled beauty that even the rival set of fans gave the Brazilian master a standing ovation at the Bernabeu. Barcelona ripped Madrid apart, racing to a 3-0 victory, with Ronaldinho at the heart of their excellent play. He scored two goals, both of which exuded individual brilliance, but his first just about eclipses the second.
Launching Barca onto the counter-attack, Ronaldinho sprinted over the halfway line before breezing past a hopeless lunge from Sergio Ramos. With blistering pace, Ronaldinho carried the ball into the penalty area, effortlessly side-stepping Ivan Helguera before lashing his shot into the bottom corner.
Iker Casillas was furious with the efforts of his defenders but, in reality, they didn’t stand a chance against a furiously determined Ronaldinho, who played the home side off the park and etched his name into El Clasico history.
4) Raul – Real Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (1/5/2002)
Even in the most pressure-packed cauldron, the legendary Raul managed to pull goals out of the top drawer. In the Champions League semi-final, Madrid’s deadly marksman capitalised on a sloppy piece of Barcelona defending to roar Madrid into the lead.
Leading 2-0 from the first leg but with the pressure still on, in front of their own fans, Raul received the ball from Zinedine Zidane and unleashed a wicked left-footed pile-driver, thundering straight into the top corner.
As always, Raul wheeled away with his trademark celebration of pushing his finger to his lips. Similar to so many teams down the years, Barcelona simply had no answer to Raul’s insatiable appetite for goals, and Real went on to win the Champions League.
3) Dani Alves – Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid (25/01/2012)
Not a player you would expect to find near the top of a greatest goals list, Dani Alves nevertheless can lay claim to one of the sweetest strikes in the pantheon of El Clasico goals.
Exploding onto a loose clearance, Alves ripped a heat-seeking rocket straight into the top corner, stunning just about everyone inside the Camp Nou. A sensational strike.
2) Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid 1-0 Barcelona (20/4/2011)
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 goals against Barcelona in Real Madrid colours, but none have demonstrated his superhuman athleticism and aerial prowess quite like this. The goal was a delightful culmination to a piercing Madrid attack that carved Barcelona’s defence open and left them a quivering wreck, as Ronaldo galloped away in celebration with a goal that settled the Copa Del Rey final.
Angel Di Maria exchanged passes with Marcelo down the left flank, using his searing pace sprint past Dani Alves and deliver a killer ball into the Portuguese superstar. But even with the quality of the pass, not many players would have been able to finish the move off quite like how Ronaldo did. Towering over Adriano, Ronaldo thumped a bullet header back across goal into the top corner. Despite the clock ticking over 103 minutes, Ronaldo still had the energy and hunger to soar through the air and deliver the crucial blow.
1) Lionel Messi – Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona (27/04/2011)
You didn’t seriously think he wouldn’t grace this list, did you? In a goal that perfectly summed up Lionel Messi’s extraordinary talents, the Argentine maestro single-handedly tore Madrid to shreds in the Champions League semi-final at the Bernabeu, driving Barcelona to the final, where they would defeat Manchester United.
After outplaying a rapidly exhausting Madrid, Messi was still determined to compound the home side’s misery as he glided past challenges before sliding the ball past Casillas. The goal was a work of art. Sergio Busquets left the ball to the onrushing Messi, who skipped past Lassana Diara, Raul Albiol and Marcelo with consummate ease and prodded the ball home.
In a tempestuous game which saw two red cards, Messi’s goal typified the beautiful side to this rivalry and put his side in the driving seat before the return leg at Camp Nou. At times, Madrid have been bereft of ideas regarding a plan to stop Messi, and this was a perfect example of their helplessness in the face of Messi’s staggering natural ability.
Matt Gault is a new writer for Just Football. Follow him on Twitter @MattGault11.
(This piece was amended on 22/3/2015 to correct the fact that Pinto was in goal in the Copa del Rey 2014 final, not Victor Valdes).
(photo credit: Alejandro Castro via Flickr)