These are two of the biggest clubs in world football, but Real have historically been the more dominant of the pair, winning more La Liga titles and more European Cups over the years, and, until now, more Clásico overall games.
Head to Head Record
But in all-time competitive head to head games, Barcelona now have 96 wins to Real’s 95. There have also been 51 draws.
Barça drew level with Real’s tally of wins with a 3-0 victory over their great rivals in the Copa del Rey semi final second leg last week. That made the weekend’s win at the Bernabeu the go ahead game.
The Catalans actually tasted victory in the first ever Clásico that is recognised by most, albeit not by the Spanish federation, in the semi final of what was known as the Copa de la Coronación – arguably a precursor to the Copa del Rey – in 1902.
FC Barcelona beat a Madrid FC side yet to be given their royal name by the Spanish king – they wouldn’t become ‘Real Madrid’ until 1920 – by a 3-1 scoreline in that maiden meeting. Udo Steinberg and Swiss-born Barça founder Joan Gamper scored the goals for the victors that day, while Englishman Arthur Johnson netted Madrid’s sole strike.
By 1931, Barça were ahead in the head to head after recording six victories in all competitions compared to Real’s five. But, until this weekend, their 3-1 La Liga victory in August 1931 at the Catalans’ old Les Corts home, was the last time they were in front.
Real proceeded to dominate the rest of the 1930s, going ahead in March 1933 and losing just once in the remainder of the decade. Barça held their own in the 1940s, but Real once again exerted dominance in the 1950s and 1960s at the same time as conquering Europe.
Barring the occasional Real win, Barça enjoyed success in the 1990s with Johan Cruyff’s famed ‘Dream Team’. But it is in the era of Lionel Messi that the club has come back on level terms. That has been particularly noticeable in how Barça’s results at the Bernabeu have changed.
During a 56-year period between 1948 and 2004 – the year that Messi made his first team debut – Barça won just 19 of the 75 Clásico fixtures played at the Bernabeu, a win record of 19%. But between 2005 and now, just 14 years, they have won 12 of 22 Clásicos at the Bernabeu, an incredible 55% win record, and an enormous improvement.
ANTES DEL DEBUT DE MESSI…
El Barça ganó 14 de los 75 clásicos (el 19%) que jugó en el Bernabéu (entre 1948 y 2004)
DESPUÉS DEL DEBUT DE MESSI…
El Barça ha ganado 12 de los 22 clásicos (el 55%) que ha jugado en el Bernabéu (entre 2005 y 2019). pic.twitter.com/6aKCbvtohr
— MisterChip (Alexis) (@2010MisterChip) March 2, 2019
Messi has personally faced Real 41 times in competitive fixtures, winning 19 and scoring 26 goals.
Beware Fake Stats
One seemingly impressive feat being shared on Twitter claims that Barça trailed Real 66-87 in the head to head record before Messi arrived. With Barça going ahead this weekend, it would imply that the Messi era has brought the club 30 Clásico wins and only eights defeats.
That is simply not true. Since Messi made his Clásico debut in November 2005, Barça have won 20 times in this fixture. That is 10 short of what has been claimed, while Real have won too many for the dramatic ‘Messi era’ comeback from 66-87 to 96-95 to be in any way correct.
It is not clear where such a ‘stat’ originated from, but it has been widely and blindly copied and shared on social media, with even ‘blue tick’ accounts declining to verify its accuracy in favour of pushing the ‘GOAT’ narrative, and is illustrative of how false information easily spreads in the digital age.