El Clasico: How previous Barcelona bosses fared facing Real Madrid for the first time

By Sports Desk October 24, 2020

Ronald Koeman gets his first taste of El Clasico from the dugout on Saturday, when Barcelona host Real Madrid.

A favourite of Johan Cruyff's mighty 'Dream Team' of the early 1990s, the pressure is on Koeman the coach to get Barca back to winning trophies at home and in Europe after last season's miserable ending.

He will have a chance to earn some sizeable brownie points against a Madrid side who are reeling from back-to-back defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, results that have placed much of the pre-game scrutiny on Koeman's opposite number, Zinedine Zidane.

As the former Netherlands boss looks to end a two-game winless run for Barca in Spain's grandest fixture, we look at how his predecessors fared in their first Clasicos in LaLiga...

 

PEP GUARDIOLA. BARCELONA 2-0 REAL MADRID. DECEMBER 13, 2008.

Both dugouts featured coaches taking charge of teams in a Clasico for the first time and it was Guardiola who got the better of Madrid's Juande Ramos.

Late goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi earned Barcelona the victory as they moved 12 points clear of Madrid in the table too.

That victory occurred during a 10-game winning streak in LaLiga and it was no surprise that Barca, who beat Madrid 6-2 later in the season, went on to win the title.

TITO VILANOVA. BARCELONA 2-2 REAL MADRID. OCTOBER 7, 2012.

The two clubs had already met in the Supercopa de Espana at the start of the season, Madrid winning on away goals after both teams had won a leg apiece.

Their first league meeting of 2012-13 was all about Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi as both men scored twice in a 2-2 draw.

Ronaldo scored for a record sixth successive Clasico to put Madrid ahead and, after Messi had netted a brace, Los Blancos' Portuguese star took his tally to 160 goals in 155 games since his 2009 move from Manchester United with an equaliser.

 

GERARDO MARTINO. BARCELONA 2-1 REAL MADRID. OCTOBER 23, 2013.

All eyes were on new recruits Neymar and Gareth Bale and it was the former who scored first to set Barca on their way.

Alexis Sanchez would double that lead and though Jese Rodriguez pulled one back, Madrid fell to a defeat that left them six points behind Barcelona after just 10 league games.

Both teams would finish the campaign on 87 points, a total not good enough to win the league as Atletico Madrid claimed 90 to be crowned champions.

LUIS ENRIQUE. REAL MADRID 3-1 BARCELONA. OCTOBER 25, 2014.

The Blaugrana had claimed 22 points from the first 24 available but they suffered defeat at Santiago Bernabeu in October 2014.

Barca debutant Luis Suarez, back after a four-month ban for biting, set up Neymar for a fourth-minute opener but the home side stormed back.

An in-form Ronaldo levelled from the spot with his 21st goal of the season before Pepe and Karim Benzema scored in the second half.

 

ERNESTO VALVERDE. REAL MADRID 0-3 BARCELONA. DECEMBER 23, 2017.

Los Blancos' awful start to the 2017-18 campaign continued as Barcelona moved 14 points clear of the defending champions with a comfortable win at the Bernabeu.

Suarez, Messi and Arturo Vidal all scored while Madrid, who had beaten Barca in both Supercopa de Espana legs at the beginning of the campaign, had Dani Carvajal dismissed for handball.

It was the first time Barcelona had won three successive league matches at the Bernabeu in Clasico history, and they went into the last match in our list with four straight victories at the ground.

 

QUIQUE SETIEN, REAL MADRID 2-0 BARCELONA, MARCH 1, 2020.

Setien, who took over from Valverde in January this year, had Barca on a four-game winning streak in LaLiga ahead of their trip to the capital.

What followed was a miserable outing for the Catalans, as second-half goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz – in his first league appearance of the season – secured the win for the hosts.

The result lifted Madrid to the top of the table and set them on course to win the title after the coronavirus-enforced break to the season. Setien was sacked in August, his final game in charge that humiliating 8-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

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    The 35-year-old Croatian will be able to discuss a free transfer away from the Santiago Bernabeu from January 1, with his deal set to run out in June.

    Modric recently dismissed the idea of returning to Tottenham – whom he left for Madrid in 2012 – at the end of the season, while the Spanish giants have reportedly delayed talks over a new deal until next year.

    The former Ballon d'Or winner remains an important player for Madrid, though he has perhaps lost a little regularity – last season he only started 22 LaLiga games, while he has been in the starting line-up just once in three Champions League matches this term.

    Modric accepts he cannot be completely sure about his future, though he seems in little doubt regarding his desire.

    When asked about the matches he has not started, Modric told reporters: "I feel good. These games you mention I didn't play in, it's the coach's decision. When I come on, I hope to help the team and do a good job."

    Regarding his future, he added: "I feel good, I feel strong, and I still have plenty of football in my legs and strengths to continue, but let's see what happens in the future.

    "A lot of people are talking and ask about my situation but let's see what happens. I'm calm. I just want to help the team like always.

    "I've said many times and I'll say it again, I'm very happy at Madrid and I'd love to end my career here, but let's see what happens.

    "Maybe you thought my answer was a bit cold because I've been asked many times and I've said the same answer many times. I feel good and I want to stay at Madrid for as long as I feel I can help the team.

    "Who wouldn't want to end their career at Real Madrid? But it depends on a lot of things. But there is no-one who'd be happier than me to continue at Real Madrid."

    Zidane's future – as it has been for much of his time back at the club – is also a little shrouded, with the Frenchman receiving criticism for Madrid's performances this season.

    Los Blancos are fourth in LaLiga after nine matches, six points behind leaders Real Sociedad with a game in hand, and are third in Champions League Group B.

    Nevertheless, Modric insists the coach has the team's backing ahead of Wednesday's trip to Inter, who are propping up the table.

    "It's not just recently we've defended the coach - we've always defended him since he came to Real Madrid," he said.

    "Every time they ask us about him, the criticism he receives, of course we're with him. We've never doubted him. We've won many things together and we hope this continues in the future.

    "It's normal we defend our coach; it's always been like that. We've won many things with him and I hope we continue to win things."

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    "No, we always go out to win, we always want to win," he said. "We can't think about drawing or losing. All I'm telling you is the most important thing is to give everything on the pitch. We always go out onto the pitch to win.

    "Football is physical and mental and the mental part is just as important. My analysis is: this is football. There are moments you are very strong and you can bounce back and there are more difficult moments, like the general situation is now in this world we live in. It's correct we're going through a lower period.

    "It was a difficult game but it's not just Real Madrid. I think every team has had difficulties in this season.

    "The team started and ended the game well [against Inter] but it was difficult because we're playing very good teams. Against Villarreal, the same happened.

    "Winning the game until the 74th, 75th minute, but in one play, which can happen, they scored a goal. I'm not a fatalist; I just think this is part of football. We try to work and get better, which is key. We try not to concede and to score goals ourselves."

    The loss of Ramos is a particular concern as Madrid have suffered seven defeats in the past eight Champions League matches the centre-back has missed.

    "We know how important he is as a player, but we have to break this statistic," Zidane said. "Obviously, we'd like him to be here, but he's injured.

    "We're going to try to change that bad record because it's a final, it's three points, we know the situation in the group and we'll have to suffer, fight hard, but we're ready for it."

    Isco is part of the squad despite his agent suggesting the midfielder wants a move in January, but Zidane was not prepared to discuss the topic.

    "I'm not going to talk about rumours. Right now, he is our player and we're happy with him," he said.

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    The Germany midfielder has been a regular since joining Bayern from Schalke in 2018 and still has around 18 months to run on his existing deal.

    He featured 38 times in last season's treble-winning campaign and has been used on 10 occasions in all competitions already in 2020-21.

    No Bayern player has recovered the ball more often than Goretzka in the Bundesliga this term (10.47 per game) and only Javi Martinez has more interceptions (3.03 per game compared to 2.76).

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    "But if Brazzo [sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic] or Hansi [Flick] approach me in the next few weeks then I will not refuse to talk to them."

    Goretzka has also started all four of Germany's Nations League matches this year, playing an hour of last week's humbling 6-0 loss against Spain.

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    "If you lose a game that high then it is normal in our business to be criticised," he said. "I didn't exactly wake up the next morning with a good feeling, either.

    "For me personally, it was about processing the loss, taking some time and then switching focus back to challenges at Bayern."

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