Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona lock horns in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final this Wednesday at the Bernabeu. La Liga leaders Madrid have won 22 of their last 23 games, but Barcelona have a psychological advantage over their arch-rivals having lost only one Clásico in eight since José Mourinho took over. The tie will be settled next week at the Camp Nou, and to mark this momentous occasion we have dug out five classic Clásicos from recent years for your viewing pleasure.
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Leo Messi hat-trick
It was on the night of 11th March, 2007 that a 19-year-old Leo Messi became football’s hottest property. Three times Fabio Capello’s Real Madrid took the lead in this pulsating encounter at the Camp Nou, and three times they were pegged back by Messi. The Argentinian’s virtuoso performance overshadowed superstar teammates Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o, and in a thrilling finale he sealed his hat-trick with a stunning stoppage time equaliser. Collecting a Ronaldinho pass 30 yards from goal, Messi accelerated away from two defenders and coolly steered the ball past Iker Casillas to level it up at 3-3.
Real Madrid demolish the 'Dream Team'
Messi’s treble in 2007 was the first in a Clásico since 1995, when Real Madrid’s Chilean striker Ivan Zamorano was the hat-trick hero as they demolished Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona ‘Dream Team’ 5-0 at the Bernabeu. 364 days previously, Barcelona had thrashed Madrid by the same scoreline at the Camp Nou, but the crucial difference this time around was that Danish midfielder Michael Laudrup had since switched clubs. The Dane was influential in both fixtures, and it was no coincidence that he won La Liga with each club consecutively. The 1994/95 La Liga title with Madrid was his fifth in a row.
'Match of the Century'
In 2002 Real Madrid proved their dominance over Barcelona with this impressive Champions League semi-final triumph. In a contest billed ‘Match of the Century’ by the Spanish media, Zinedine Zidane inspired Madrid’s Galacticos to a crucial 2-0 win in the first leg at the Camp Nou. The Frenchman gave Madrid the lead with a glorious chip before England winger Steve McManaman added a second late on with another superb lofted finish. The return leg at the Bernabeu finished 1-1 and Real Madrid safely booked their place in the final. With his unforgettable volleyed winner, Zidane would play a pretty crucial role in that game too.
Ronaldinho's standing ovation
A standing ovation from your own fans is one thing, but to receive one from your most hated rivals as Ronaldinho did in November 2005 is practically unheard of. In his glorious pomp, the buck-toothed Brazilian was almost unplayable. Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring for Barcelona in this magnificent 3-0 victory after a probing run from one Leo Messi, but the brilliant Ronaldinho stole the show with two stunning individual goals cutting in from the left hand side. Barca romped to the title that year, finishing 12 points clear of their arch-rivals.
The guard of honour
Barcelona's turn to be humbled here, as they are forced to give newly crowned La Liga champions Madrid a guard of honour before this meeting at the Bernabeu in May 2008. As if that wasn't humiliating enough, Madrid went on to thrash the visitors 4-1 with goals from Raúl, Robben, Higuaín and van Nistelrooy. The day after this dismal defeat, Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard was sacked. In came Pep Guardiola, and, well, you know the rest.
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