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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    Zidane guided Madrid to three successive Champions League titles in his first stint, and last season's LaLiga crown after returning to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019.

    But the Los Blancos great is under mounting pressure amid the club's struggles this season.

     

    TOP STORY – ZIDANE IN DANGER

    Mauricio Pochettino and Raul are waiting in the wings to replace Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, according to widespread reports in Spain.

    Madrid head coach Zidane is in danger of losing his job following Tuesday's Champions League loss to Shakhtar Donetsk.

    Los Blancos have suffered back-to-back defeats and three in their past five outings across all competitions to be seven points adrift in LaLiga and on the cusp of Champions League elimination.

    Thursday's Mundo Deportivo, Diario AS and Sport report former Tottenham boss Pochettino and Madrid Castilla coach Raul are eyeing the hot seat.

    ROUND-UP

    - Calciomercato claims the race to sign Rennes and France sensation Eduardo Camavinga is down to Madrid and Manchester United. Serie A champions Juventus had also been linked, though there has been talk of Paul Pogba returning to Turin after leaving for Old Trafford in 2016.

    - Bayern Munich star David Alaba is hoping to strike a January agreement with Chelsea, according to Fabrizio Romano's 'Here We Go Podcast'. Alaba is a free agent at the end of the season and he has been linked to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

    Juventus have shown an interest in Barcelona centre-back Samuel Umtiti, according to Calciomercato. Arsenal's Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic are also on the shortlist.

    Madrid are eyeing Benfica forward Darwin Nunez, reports Calciomercato. The Uruguay international has also caught the attention of LaLiga rivals Barca.

    - What does the future hold for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland? Heavily linked to United, Madrid, Liverpool, PSG and even Barca, Calciomercato says Juve are monitoring the Norwegian closely.

  • Koeman hoping Griezmann form continues as forward's confidence grows Koeman hoping Griezmann form continues as forward's confidence grows

    Ronald Koeman believes Antoine Griezmann is growing in confidence and the Barcelona head coach hopes the forward's run of form can continue.

    Griezmann scored for the third straight game for the first time in his Barca career with the opener in Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League win at Ferencvaros.

    Martin Braithwaite doubled the lead before Ousmane Dembele's penalty as Barca, without the rested Lionel Messi, won their first five group stage games in a Champions League campaign for the first time since 2002-03.

    But Griezmann's form is a particular boost amid the club's inconsistencies in LaLiga and Koeman praised the forward.

    "It is always a matter of trust of a player. As I said many times, Antoine has always worked hard to improve his game and effectiveness for the team," he said.

    "Now the goals come in and he is convinced because he has quality. I think this is important for any player.

    "I hope he can continue with this effectiveness he's having lately."

    After Griezmann's brilliant flicked finish for the opener, Dembele set up Braithwaite before getting on the scoresheet himself.

    No player had more shots than Dembele's five and Koeman said the forward's performance would give him selection headaches.

    "Dembele is a great player. He has a lot of quality, one on one, he is very fast, he is effective and manages both legs," he said.

    "The most important thing is he is physically very well. He is working well.

    "We know there are different players at the front and it is difficult for the manager to decide when people like Dembele are playing at this level."

    Sitting seventh in LaLiga, Barca are away to Cadiz on Saturday.

  • Neymar: What I want most is to play with Messi again Neymar: What I want most is to play with Messi again

    Neymar caused a stir after inspiring Paris Saint-Germain to victory over Manchester United when he said he wants to link up with Lionel Messi in 2021.

    The Brazil star scored twice to help PSG to a 3-1 win at Old Trafford, a result that puts them in a strong position to reach the Champions League knockout stages.

    Neymar joined the Ligue 1 champions from Barca for a world-record €222million fee in 2017, partly, it has been suggested, to escape the shadow of Messi at Barcelona.

    The Catalans won the treble in 2014-15 with an attacking trident of Neymar, Messi and Luis Suarez, but it has been claimed the former Santos man left Camp Nou so he could have a better chance of winning the Ballon d'Or.

    Neymar has since repeatedly been tipped to return to Spain but has made it clear he will stay in Paris until at least the end of the 2020-21 season.

    Messi failed to engineer a move away from Barca in the previous transfer window but, with his contract running out next June, it remains unclear whether he will choose to leave next year.

    For his part, Neymar wants nothing more than to reunite with his old team-mate, telling ESPN on Wednesday: "What I want most is to play with Messi again.

    "I want to play with him. I'll let him play in my position if he wants!

    "Next year, we have to play together, for sure."

    Neymar's two goals over United took him to 38 in the Champions League in his career. Since his debut in 2013, only Cristiano Ronaldo (79), Robert Lewandowski (60) and Messi (59) have scored more.

    PSG's victory means they are level on nine points with United and RB Leipzig in Group H heading into matchday six next week.

    A win for Thomas Tuchel's side over Istanbul Basaksehir will guarantee they progress as winners of the group.

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