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729 Friendship
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PostSubject: El Clásico   El Clásico I_icon_minitimeThu Oct 07, 2010 4:59 pm

There is often a fierce rivalry between the two strongest teams in a national league, and this is particularly the case in La Liga, where the game between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is known as 'The Classic' (El Clásico). From the start of national competitions the clubs were seen as representatives of two rival regions in Spain: Catalonia and Castile, as well as of the two cities. The rivalry reflects what many regard as the political and cultural tensions felt between Catalans and the Castilians, seen by one author as a re-enactment of the Spanish Civil War.[63]

During the dictatorships of Primo de Rivera and especially of Francisco Franco (1939–1975), all regional cultures were suppressed. All of the languages spoken in Spanish territory, except Spanish (Castilian) itself, were officially banned.[64][65] Symbolising the Catalan people's desire for freedom, FC Barcelona became 'More than a club' (Més que un club) for the Catalans. According to Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, the best way for the Catalans to demonstrate their identity was by joining FC Barcelona. It was less risky than joining a clandestine anti-Franco movement, and allowed them to express their dissidence.[66]

On the other hand, Real Madrid was widely seen as the embodiment of the sovereign oppressive centralism and the fascist regime at management level and beyond (Santiago Bernabeu, the former club president for whom the Merengues stadium is named, fought with los nacionales).[67][68] However, during the Spanish Civil War, members of both clubs such as Josep Sunyol and Rafael Sánchez Guerra suffered at the hands of Franco supporters.

During the 1950s the rivalry was exacerbated further when there was a controversy surrounding the transfer of Alfredo di Stéfano, who finally played for Real Madrid and was key to their subsequent success.[69] The 1960s saw the rivalry reach the European stage when they met twice at the knock-out rounds of the European Cup.[70] The latest European encounter between the clubs, in 2002, was dubbed the "Match of The Century" by Spanish media, and was watched by more than 500 million people

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