El Clásico is the name given in football to a match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. It is contested twice a year in the Spanish La Liga competition, and more often if the clubs meet in other competitions. Other than the UEFA Champions League Final, it is the most followed club football match in the world above the Milan derby, watched by hundreds of millions of people.
The rivalry comes about as Madrid and Barcelona are the two largest cities in Spain, and the two clubs are the richest, most successful and influential football clubs in the world. Real Madrid leads slightly with 74 trophies, while FC Barcelona, by winning the UEFA Champions League for the fourth time, have 73 trophies; Athletic Bilbao comes third with 32 trophies.These are the only three clubs in La Liga to have never lost top-flight status. They are sometimes identified with opposing political positions, with Real Madrid viewed as representing Spanish nationalism, and Barcelona viewed as representing Catalan nationalism. The Rivalry is argued by many to be the biggest in world football.
During the Franco dictatorship, most citizens of Barcelona were in strong opposition to the fascist-like régime. Phil Ball, the author of Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football, calls the El Clásico “a re-enactment of the Spanish Civil War.” A similar analogy was made by American author Robert Coover, which described the 1977 match between the “archrivals” Barcelona FC and Real Club Deportivo Español as “more like a reenactment of the Spanish Civil War than a mere athletic event.”