Why El Clásico Is The Greatest Sporting Event You've Never Heard Of
El Clásico is the rivalry between soccer teams Barcelona and Real Madrid. And it's absolutely amazing.
These two teams are not only the biggest clubs in Spain, they're arguably the two best teams in the world. And their rivalry extends well beyond the game itself.
For residents of Barcelona and Madrid alike, the game has come to represent a clash of football tactics, political ideology and a way of life.
The clubs' histories are rooted within Francisco Franco's Spain, and although the dictator is long gone, the passion of the rivalry hasn't waned.
The latest installment of El Clásico will see Real Madrid travel to Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium. They'll need to win in order to overtake their hosts and reach the top spot in the Spanish league.
And with the two clubs only meeting twice a season -- Real Madrid won this season's first meeting 3-1 back in October -- the stakes literally could not be any higher.
You've probably heard it a million times, but this great rivalry really is more than "just a game." It's a way of life.
And here's why attending a game at Camp Nou or Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu Stadium should most definitely be on your bucket list.
The fan bases absolutely hate each other.
These people aren't like fans of the Red Sox and Yankees or Raiders and Niners. Barcelona and Real Madrid supporters literally want blood.
Based on the idea Barcelona fans are leftist separatists and Madrid fans are part of the centralized government, there's much more hatred on display when these two teams play each other.
On game days in Barcelona, Real Madrid fans aren't even allowed to go near Barcelona fans during the drinking and partying that goes on before the match. Police actually escort fans away before shit gets way too real, way too fast.
The atmosphere on the streets is almost as good as it is in the stadium.
In the hours leading up to the match, supporters ratchet it up to the next level. We're talking beer and wine on the streets -- this is Europe after all -- and what can be described as nothing short of a carnival atmosphere.
I'm a huge soccer fan, but you don't have to know every starting player's name to see anyone partaking in the pre-match festivities has an absolutely amazing experience.
Fans come from all over the world to take in the action.
In case you thought this was just a Spanish thing, supporters come to El Clásico from all corners of the world, from Botswana to Belarus, to sing, drink and watch the match together.
And we haven't even gotten to the game yet.
When Camp Nou comes to life with 98,000 fans singing the team's anthem and holding placards to make what appears to be a scripted mosaic, the entirety of El Clásico hits you like a ton of bricks. No NFL or NBA game can hold a candle to the atmosphere inside an El Clásico.
As far as the action on the field, well, the two best clubs in Spain have some of the world's best players. The skill and flair on display makes for a 90-minute performance of sensational soccer. And if you think these two sets of fans hate each other, just wait for the first scuffle to break out on the field. The intensity level is high, and the smallest incident can ignite the match and start a wildfire.
Currently, El Clásico features the two best players in the world.
If you didn't make it to Spain this year to partake in any of the previous things mentioned, you can still turn on the television on Sunday to watch the two best players in the world.
Since 2010, either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d'Or, the award handed out by FIFA to the player of the year.
These dudes are not only the best players at the moment, they're often in the conversation for greatest of all time.
Check out the video below of one dude who was lucky enough to go to El Clásico in 2013.