All Soccer Eye, including those of Toros, Turn This Week to Spain’s El Clasico

Lionel Messi (r), of Argentina, will play in today’s El Clasico match between his team, Barcelona, and Real Madrid. Photo shot in 2012 by Ludovic Péron,

By Victor Munoz, Sports Editor

The Spanish professional club  futbol derby known as El Clasico, a clash between two of the biggest professional soccer clubs in the world, Barcelona and Real Madrid, has come to feel like America’s own rivalry.   Although the match takes place about 6,000 miles away, in the last five years, about 2 million American viewers have tuned into the team’s head-to-head clashes, and that doesn’t count those who stream the contest. Both clubs can boast of fans across the globe and in my four years of attending CSUDH, I have noticed that whenever those teams play, especially each other, there are plenty of Toro students on campus sporting their jerseys.

Among the rivalry’s most interested spectators has been the CSUDH men’s soccer team, which in previous years has gathered to watch the biggest club sporting event in the world.

Former CSUDH men’s soccer midfielder D’Morea Alewine, a two-time all second-team conference selection in his years as a Toro,  2015-18, said the men’s soccer team used to get together to watch the Spanish derby, which he considers the most entertaining derby worldwide.
“If I had an opportunity to go watch any derby without a doubt it would be Spain’s derby between Barcelona and Real Madrid,” said Alewine.

This week, the U.S. and the 90 other countries in which the game will be televised, will enjoy not one but two El Clasico clashes. Today (Wednesday, Feb. 27), Barcelona and Real Madrid will play the second leg of the Spanish Cup Semifinal (the first leg resulted in a O-0 tie), a do or die battle at 12 p.m. And on Saturday, they will have a La Liga face-off, which is Spain’s top tier of professional club soccer. The game could preserve Real Madrid’s league championship aspirations, or crush them. Currently, Barcelona is at the top of the table with 57 points followed by Atletico de Madrid with 50. Real Madrid sits in third place, nine points behind its arch-rival Barcelona.

Part of the star power of this rivalry is that two of the biggest soccer stars in history have close associations with the teams. Five-time Balon de Oro (basically, the player of the year among all European clubs) winner Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, led Real Madrid from 2009-2018, before his departure to an Italian club team. And Argentina’s Lionel Messi, also a five-time Balon de Oro winner, has played for Barcelona since 2004 and is the current team captain.

Neither player has competed in El Clasico since Ronaldo’s departure from Real Madrid, but all reports indicate that Messi, who is on anyone’s list of the greatest active soccer players, will be in the starting line-up.


Real Madrid rookie Vinicius Junior told Marca, a Spaniard news outlet, that Messi is incredible but that his team is not scared of him because they can also count some of the best players in the world, such as French striker Karim Benzema, Welshman Gareth Bale, and Brazil’s Marcelo.


But if we look at numbers, Real Madrid should be scared, or at least deeply concerned about Messi playing. His 26 goals are the most in El Clasico history, and he has also registered 14 assists.


The two sides  have collided in 239 official competitions with Real Madrid tallying one more victory, 95, than Barcelona’s 94. Fifty matches have ended in a tie.


It is rare to see either the Camp Nou (home of Barcelona) or the Santiago Bernabeu (home of Real Madrid), which will both host one of this week’s games, not sell out and many CSUDH students hope to one day be one in the 80,000 plus filled seats.


Some players are in doubt for Wednesday clash. For Real Madrid, Isco Alarcon and Marcos Llorente are in risk of missing the game due to their respective injuries. And for Barcelona , Rafinha, Arthur Melo and Jasper Cillesen are doubtful. As for CSUDH students, some have to miss the game because they have class. But for some students that does not stop them.

“I have missed class to stay home and watch El Clasico,” said freshman Julio, a biology major who did not want his last name.


CSUDH alumni Irma Camacho said she is always keeping up with El Clasico and if she had class during a game she would watch it in her phone or follow the live commentary on the ESPN app.