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Sunday, 10 April 2011

Barcelona v Real Madrid

Barcelona v Real Madrid, European Cup Semi, 1960

This week’s first leg Champions League results have; barring a catastrophic reversal of fortunes for the teams involved in the second leg; confirmed a third European Cup/Champions League semi final meeting between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The matchup will present an opportunity for the Catalans to redress the balance somewhat as Madrid have come out on top in both previous clashes at this stage.
 In the 2001-02 competition, both clubs finished top of their respective groups; with Madrid winning their group rather more convincingly than their cross country rivals. Both teams also had to overcome first leg defeats in the quarter finals to set up the “Match of the Century” first leg clash at Camp Nou. Five hundred million tuned in to the game in which the Galacticos of Madrid put to bed an awful run of results in Barcelona’s home ground by winning 2-0 with the goals coming from Zidane and McManaman (clearly, the term “Galactico” was banded about loosely in some cases). Barca managed a respectable 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in the second leg but the damage was already done. Madrid then went on to win their 9th European Cup against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden.
 To find the other semi final match up you have to go all the way back to 1959-60 and the meeting of Alfredo Di Stefano’s outstanding Madrid and Luis Suarez’s C.F. Barcelona (as they were known then). Both teams were driven by some magnificent Hungarians- Madrid in the form of Puskas and Barcelona by the trio of Kubula, Kocsis and Czibor. Both teams were prolific scorers en route to the final with Barcelona thrashing Milan 5-1 at Camp Nou. Barcelona also put to bed once and for all the delusions of grandeur that the, admittedly, great Wolverhampton Wanderers side of the era frequently displayed by squashing the English side 9-2 on aggregate. That set up a tasty clash of the Spanish giants in the semi final. Much like the semi final that followed 42 years later, Madrid won by two goals in the Camp Nou. This time, however, Madrid took a 3-1 advantage to Barcelona’s ground. Still, since the ground was built in 1957 Barcelona had won every single competitive game there until that semi final meeting. The similarities to 01-02 don’t end there as Madrid went on to win their 5th trophy at the same venue as 2002- Hampden- beating another German team- Eintracht Frankfurt- in the final.
Wolves v Barcelona, EC QF, 1960

 It wasn’t to be all doom and gloom for Barca as they went on to win that season’s Fairs Cup- that particular competition ran from 1958-1960 thus allowing Barca to qualify for the European Cup in the meantime by winning La Liga in 58-59 thereby being in the unique position of playing in European football’s premier and secondary tournaments. Barcelona would also take some solace in becoming the first side to knock Madrid out of European competition by disposing of them in the early rounds of the 1960-61 European Cup.
Barcelona v Wolves, EC QF, 1960
 Much like 1960, the 2011 event promises to be a clash of two of world football’s most irresistible teams. Mourinho v Guardiola; Ronaldo v Messi; 80,000 in the Bernabeu and 98,000 at Camp Nou with the winner rewarded with a place in the new Wembley’s first Champions League final. Will Barcelona return to the scene of Koeman’s thunderbolt of a free kick in 1992 or will Madrid keep up their 100% semi final record against their eternal rivals?

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