Real Madrid vs Barcelona Classic Clash: April 23, 2017

Before Real Madrid host Barcelona for yet another El Clasico, The Hard Tackle takes a closer at a classic clash between the two teams from back in the day.

The battle of the Spanish giants is considered to be one of the biggest rivalries in world football. Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of the most successful clubs in the world, and they have been home to some of the best footballers the world has seen.

When they square up against each other it is much more than just three points, it is about pride, passion and showcasing to the world which is the most dominant Spanish team.

The latest instalment of El Clasico will be played at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday. Barcelona, who are heading into this fixture on the back of a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of PSG in the UEFA Champions League, will look to slow down Real Madrid’s charge towards the league title.

Los Blancos currently have an eight-point lead over second-placed Barcelona, and a win here will almost guarantee them the league title. They are heading into this fixture on the back of a win over Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals, and the team in white will be quite confident about their chances.

Before we focus on the upcoming class at the Bernabeu, let us relive a classic clash between the two teams from back in the day.

Laying the setting

Over the years, the two teams have squared up against each other on 256 occasions, Real Madrid have come out on top on 105 occasions, while the Catalan giants have registered 100 wins. 51 of the matches between the two teams have ended in a draw.

While one cannot deny that El Clasico peaked during the Ronaldo-Messi era, it is still one of the biggest fixtures in world football if not the biggest. Both teams still have a lot of quality in their ranks, and they are expected to produce yet another spectacle.

Before we talk about the classic clash let us look at how the two teams have faired in the ongoing season. Real Madrid have bounced back in some fashion after a disappointing season last time out. They have been a dominant force in the league and currently have an eight-point advantage at the top with just seven games to go in the season.

They have only suffered two defeats across competitions in the ongoing edition. Both defeats came at the hands of city rivals Atletico Madrid. The first defeat came quite early in the league, while the second defeat saw them getting knocked out of the Copa del Rey.

But, the good news is that they are on course to win the league and are in the semi-finals of the Champions League. As far as Barcelona are concerned, they have not been able to reach the levels they did last time out when they won the league.

The Catalan giants have already lost eight fixtures this season. The Blaugrana are eight points behind league leaders Real Madrid, while they have been knocked out of the Champions League by PSG. The league champions lost the Super Cup final to Los Blancos and were knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the hands of eventual winners Athletic Club.

It might have been a disappointing season so far, but they can surely give themselves a big boost by taking down the best team in the league. But, before Barcelona square up against Los Blancos, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the classic clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona from back in the day.

What happened on April 23, 2017?

Back in 2017, Real Madrid and Barcelona were both considered superpowers in world football. The Catalan giants had the likes of Lionel Messi, Andreas Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suarez, and Gerard Pique amongst other stars.

On th eother hand, Real Madrid had a front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos were at the peak of their powers, and they had Casemiro, who used to take care of the defensive side of things.

Both teams were full of superstars and El Clasico was by far the biggest match on the calendar during those days. On April 23, 2017, when the two teams squared up against each other Barcelona were very much in the mix for the league title.

They were just three points behind league leaders Real Madrid, and a win at the Santiago Bernabeu would have brought them level. While Barcelona dominated the ball in front of the packed Bernabeu, Real Madrid were not far behind. The team in white were constantly hitting the on the break.

Casemiro gave Real Madrid the lead in the 28th minute, but it only took Messi five minutes to level things. Both teams created numerous chances during the first half, but neither could take the lead. The game was a bit more open in the second half, and it was more of an end-to-end stuff.

Los Blancos had quite a few opportunities to take the lead, but their forwards were not in the best of forms on the day. In the end, Ivan Rakitic gave the Catalan giants the lead in the 73rd minute with an unstoppable strike from outside the box and minutes later, Sergio Ramos was sent off for a wild two-footed challenge on Messi.

Despite creating more chances, it felt as if it was all over for the team in white. But, despite going down to ten men, James Rodriguez managed to level things up by converting a cross by Marcelo in the 85th minute.

Los Blancos were just 5 minutes plus injury time away from securing an important point in the title race. But, it was not meant to be as Messi scored with the final kick of the match to give Barcelona the lead and help them claim three important points in the title race.

Jordi Alba managed to cut one back from the end line into the path of Messi, who slotted it into the bottom left corner to leave the Real Madrid players lying on the ground and the Bernabeu in disbelief.

The Aftermath

The win brought Barcelona level on points with Real Madrid. But Los Blancos still had a game in hand. Despite pulling off such an incredible win, the Catalan giants did not have anything to show for it in the end. They had given it their all in hopes of reigniting the title race. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

Both teams did not drop a single point until the end of the season, and they both went on a five-match winning streak after this epic clash. Los Blancos managed to keep hold of the top spot despite suffering at the hands of Barcelona. Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid went on to win their second consecutive Champions League title that season.

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