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Ten key players in El Clasico history

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Real Madrid’s Spanish defender Sergio Ramos (R) fouls Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first-leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 26, 2020. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Football fans in Nigeria will soon be treated to the biggest club football match in the world as the latest edition of ‘El Clasico’ – the rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid draws closer.

The teams’ La Liga Round 26 clash is set for Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, March 1, 2020. It will be live on SuperSport.

El Clasico has a rich history, which dates back to the teams’ first meeting in 1902. Here are 10 key players who have helped to shape this incredible rivalry down the decades.

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Luis Figo
The Portuguese winger played for both teams through the late 1990s and early 2000s. His switch from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000 was regarded as one of the most controversial transfers of all time. He scored three El Clasico goals for Barca and one for Real Madrid. He is remembered for having a pig’s head thrown at home on one of his visits to Camp Nou as a Los Blancos player.

Hugo Sanchez
The Mexican and Real Madrid legend was a prolific goal scorer in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including a haul of 10 El Clasico goals in seven seasons with Los Blancos. And he managed all this at Real Madrid despite joining from another hated rival, Atletico Madrid.

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Cesar Rodriguez
Known only as Cesar during his playing days, the Spanish forward was so prolific for Barcelona through the 1940s and 1950s. He was the only Barcelona player to hit double figures in terms of El Clasico goals until Lionel Messi came along.

Alfred Stefano
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Alfred Di Stefano was at the heart of Real Madrid’s rise to ascendancy as a continental powerhouse. He helped Los Blancos win their first five European Cups (now the UEFA Champions League). And he was no slouch on the domestic front either, with 18 goals in El Clasico – a record only surpassed by Lionel Messi.

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Xavi Hernandez
With an incredible 42 El Clasico appearances, stylish midfielder Xavi Hernandez was a feature of this rivalry for the better part of two decades. His elegant and understated passing game continues to influence the way Barcelona play and it’s seemingly only a matter of time until he returns to the fixture in a coaching/managerial role.
Sergio Ramos

No player has featured in more El Clasico matches than Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos. He made a record 43rd appearance
when the teams drew 0-0 at Camp Nou back in December. The defender has not always enjoyed coming up against Barcelona, as he has been sent off a record five times in this rivalry.

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Ronaldinho
One of the few Barcelona players to have earned a standing ovation from the Santiago Bernabeu, was Ronaldinho. He scored in four successive matches against Los Blancos from 2004 to 2006. His incredible skill and imagination helped Barca enjoy a period of dominance over their rivals in the mid-2000s.

Raul
With 37 appearances and 15 goals in El Clasico, Real Madrid’s Raul is a legitimate legend of this rivalry. In all, he made
over 700 apperances for Real

Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portuguese forward’s rivalry with Barcelona counterpart, Lionel Messi helped to elevate a decade’s worth of El Clasicos to an even higher level. Ronaldo scored 18 El Clasico goals (level with Alfredo Di Stefano) and put together a record run of scoring in six consecutive matches against Barcelona from 2011 to 2013.

Lionel Messi

By the time Lionel Messi retires, he will surely hold almost all the individual records for a player in El Clasico. He has 42 appearances (just one behind Sergio Ramos’ record), and is already way out in front in terms of goals scored, with his tally of 26 unlikely to ever be matched.

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