In depth

Does ruling Los Clásicos mean dominating La Liga?

This huge game gets everyone's attention and the winner is often favourite to win the title

Does ruling Los Clásicos mean dominating La Liga?
Does ruling Los Clásicos mean dominating La Liga?

This huge game gets everyone's attention and the winner is often favourite to win the title

Barça Madrid

| Getty Images

It is supposed to be one game (or two, since it is home and away) above all the others. Games you can not lose, if you don't want to face humiliation, moquery or shame. Coaches, presidents, even fans emphasise on this main event inside La Liga season. Winning El Clásico is winning pride, sending a message to the rest of the table, and positionning as favourites for the title. Because Barça and Real Madrid have dominated Spanish football for years, and because the clashes between both clubs often take place at the top of the league. But what happens when you win both? When you defend your honor so well you win both home and away from home. Does that have a direct impact on the final result, at the end of this race of endurance? Or is it such a special moment of the season that even when struggling in mid-table, or at the bottom, it is still possible to get the victory, although it is anecdotal?

Here are some figures that put this titanic fight into perspective, and see if Barça beating Madrid means Barça lifting La Liga trophy.

Barça have been crowned champions 50% of the time when they beat Madrid twice

Since 1929 and the first official edition of La Liga, it has been fifty-fifty. Some seasons are complete successes, others are just failures, but with the sweet taste of having quieted down the eternal rival. And in times of political tensions, just like during Franco's era, those are not innocent wins. They represent a whole series of thought, opinions and indignation against the power in place. For Barcelona and for Catalans, El Clásico was the opportunity to give a boost to their voices, and show that they had nothing to fear from the central authority. It was also a way to escape the daily life, and give back their smiles to all Culers. In that time of social repression, Real Madrid were ahead, winning 20 La Liga titles between 1931 and 1980, to Barça's 8. But that time has come to an end. Football has evolved, Spain has evolved and Franco died, leaving room for peace again, and democracy. This has meant a reshuffle of the cards and a transposition of the sporting power from Madrid to Barcelona. Indeed, in the more "recent" era, Catalonia has taken over.

From 1993, Barça won 80% of the time La Liga when winning both Clásicos

1993 was a turning point in European football. The European Champion Clubs' Cup had just been renamed Champion's League (just after the title of Barça's Dream Team in 1992). The evolution of the game made some new teams appear on the elite stage, yet the dominance had gone to the Catalans. During the 90's decade, Real Madrid  got two league titles (1994/95 and 1996/97), while the Blaugranas clinched the trophy 6 times, including four consecutive titles (1990/91, 1991/92, 1992/93, 1993/94, 1997/98, 1998/99). A similar situation to the one we know today, with Barça winning 5 of the 7 titles distributed since Real Madrid's victory in 2007/08. Always favourites for the final win, both teams have made of El Clásico a crucial indicator of their potential dominance. And as in modern football it is now essential to win on the road as well as at home, this particular game divided in two episodes has been the main event of each La Liga season, even when ths chips seem to be down like this season. Since 1993, Barça have gone on winning both Clásicos 5 times, 4 of which led to the title at the end of the season (1993/94, 1997/98, 2008/09 and 2009/10).

As a result, it looks like this weekend's El Clásico is way more important for Real Madrid than it is - apart from pride, respect and the great tribute planned for Johan Cruyff - for Barça. Yet, a Blaugrana win, given the circumstances of this season (Barça 9 points ahead of Atlético and 10 ahead of Madrid) and the recent past experiences, would probably mean no turning back and another La Liga title for Barça, the second in a row for the Catalans, and for Luis Enrique. And what is more exciting than closing the debate against the eternal rival?