Real Madrid vs Barcelona is the best in terms of confrontation between two rival clubs. With an average of 3.3 goals/match, The Clasico is THE game of excellence to see goals in abundance. Both teams have scored 287 goals in 177 La Liga confrontations. In Spain, the clash is classified as a “partidazo” literally translated,’ great game.’ If Real Madrid are ahead in the number of victories over Barcelona in La Liga since the opening campaign 1928/29 (72 wins for Real Madrid, 34 draws and 71 defeats); the culés are far ahead in the number of manita. The Catalan side have beaten their opponent five times 5-0 and their last fixture in La Liga finished in a 5-1 victory, whereas Alfredo Di Stefano’s beloved club has only inflicted two on Barcelona.

A “manita” means literally little hand, it represents the five fingers, and each goal scored is a finger. Otherwise, the Spaniards usually talk about the Manitazo, which is bigger. They talk about manitazo when the victory is total, there is no contest at all. The manita affair started in 1935 when Barcelona thrashed Real Madrid for the first time 5-0. The merengues didn’t even exist. Then it was followed by another manita in 1974 in favour of the Culés. In the ’90s, there were two manita, the first came up in 1994 with the famous “Dream Team” ruled by a notorious coach from the Netherlands, two-time World Cup finalist as a player, the immense Johan Cruyff.

The context

364 days earlier, Real Madrid suffered a humiliating 5-0 loss to the Catalans. Barcelona were at the peak of their reign, they played the most interesting football of the top five European leagues, and were on a four-year reign in Liga. It was the greatest night of the “Dream Team” led by Johann Cruijff. Romario, a genius from PSV signed a brilliant performance, he scored a hat-trick. During this game, a pure product of La Masia, Josep “Pep” Guardiola – who at this time still had his hair, was at the origin in the Romario first goal.

The tales about the famous Quinta del Butre were already old, with the emergence of Athletic Bilbao and the Catalan domination, the Madrid council board wanted someone to avoid this kind of humiliation, someone who really knows who rules the house. The board appointed an Argentine coach – young. Jorge Valdano, ex-Madrid player, had it in mind when he had been appointed at the end of the season, 1993/94, and promised to break this domination.

The match

January 7 1995, Jorge Valdano set Real Madrid up in a 4-4-2 shape: Buyo was in goal, Lasa was the left-back, Fernando Hierro and Sanchis were the centre-backs and Quique Sanchez was the right-back; Milla, Amavisca, Laudrup and Luis Enrique were across the midfield, behind a front-two of Zamorano and Raul Gonzales, who were a terrible duo at this moment.

Head coach Johan Cruyff conducted his 4-1-4-1 formation with Carles Busquets, Sergio Busquets’s father, as ‘keeper, Abelardo, Albert Ferrer, Ronald Koeman, Sergi Barjuan at the back, Guillermo Amor, Jose Mari Bakero, Pep Guardiola, Gheorghe Hagi, Xabier Eskurza, and Hristo Stoichkov was the lone striker. The Dutch coach left Romario on the bench.

The hosts demonstrated a clear vision to finish the game as early as possible. Since the beginning of the game, the Vikingos took control of the game by possession and aggressive marking. In the fifth minute, Zamorano hit for the visitors first.

This game was the best performance of a South American player in a Clasico – a South American who is not Brazilian or Argentine to be clear… We’ll have to wait 24 years later to see a Uruguayan (Luis Suarez) score three times. With this goal, Ivan Zamorano produced a volcano eruption at Santiago Bernabeu – the tribunes were not well designed as they are nowadays, after a perfect combination with Michael Laudrup and Raul. Largely dominant, Jorge Valdano’s men created more chances. In the 39th minute, the Chilean forward extended the lead with his third goal. Despite the Cruyff attempts, there were no Catalans able to pass the Madrid wall composed of Fernando Hierro – one of the Real Madrid and national team most-capped players, Quique who was actually a coach in the Premier League at one point, Manolo Sanchis, the king of Clasicos, with 43 appearances (between 1983/84 and 2000/01). And Lasa, who was out on his wing.

Ironically, the man-of-the-match performance came from a former Barcelona favourite, the Danish Michael Laudrup, who had switched sides during the summer of 1994 following a breakdown in relationship with the Dutch boss, Johan Cruyff.

When the referee whistled for half-time, Real Madrid were already advantaged by the Chilean’s three goals. And the crowd was singing louder than ever.

A former Sporting Gijon player, Luis Enrique, who would later go to the opposite direction to Michael Laudrup and become a Barca favourite, grabbed a fourth in the 68th minute, before Jose Amavisca rounded off a memorable win with the fifth two minutes later.

Los Blancos took a huge step to the title for the first time in the decade, as a stunning first-half display against the biggest rival earned them a 5-0 advantage. The defence was called into action a number of times. Stoichkov, Hagi, Romario faded as an attacking force as Madrid took control after the break.

It was a remarkable victory from Los Blancos and one from which Barca never truly recovered because they lost the title this season and Cruyff admitted that day ranks as one of his worse moments in football. History will retain that Jorge Valdano was true to his word, by the end of the season, they had become champions and also avenged their humiliating defeat. Real Madrid finished at the top of the table, Barcelona finished fourth. In this time, only Raul, Hierro and Sanchis would participate in Real Madrid’s Champions League triumphs of 1997/98 and 1999/00

Revenge is a dish best served cold

However since this manita, Real Madrid have never beat them again with this scoreline, the nearest scoreline they reached was in 2008/09 with a 4-1 victory at Bernabeu, Van Nistelrooy was fantastic, Raul Gonzales was still the reference in the attacking line. Thierry Henry scored for his side. After the defeat, Barcelona appointed a certain Pep Guardiola who had been in the line-up in 1995 and who had just coached the B team. He created a team that was almost unbeatable, he trashed the Casa Blanca several times with large scores, and the largest was a 6-2 at Bernabeu and the supermanita, of course, 5-0 on 29 November 2010.

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Ney Zulmé

Student in Economics. Proud member of the Ronnie Dog Media team. Crazy about tactical discussions. Writer at laligaanalysis.com and taleoftwohalves.uk
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