Sunday's game between Barcelona and Real Madrid will mark the first one between the bitter Spanish rivals where Lionel Messi is no longer part of the Blaugrana squad. Older fans may remember that feeling, but this article is intended to look back at how things went for both teams prior to the arrival of the Argentine superstar to the first team.
In order to find an edition of El Clásico where Lionel Messi was not a member of the first team, we will have to go back to the 2004-05 season. Back then, Los Blaugranas were led by Samuel Eto'o, Ronaldinho, and a host of other stellar players. On the other hand, Real Madrid were living the era of Los Galácticos, with players such as David Beckham, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, and Zinedine Zidane leading the line.
The last game between these teams before Messi was part of the first team took place on April 10, 2005. Los Merengues took a two-nil lead thanks to goals by Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo, but Los Blaugranas fought back with a goal by Samuel Eto'o, the team's top scorer that year. The first half would end with one more goal for Real Madrid, courtesy of Raúl González, which set the tone for the second half.
During those second 45 minutes, Real Madrid scored one more goal to extend their lead even further, being Michael Owen the goal scorer. But the final score reflected one more goal for Barcelona, as Ronaldinho found the back of the net after 73 minutes. That goal would be crucial in the title race, as it gave Los Culés an edge over Los Merengues in the event of a tiebreaker. Eventually, Barcelona would go on to win the league title, and Real Madrid would end the season empty-handed.
After that game, there were 32 league Clásicos between these sides with Messi as part of the first team. In those meetings, Barcelona dominated with 15 wins, leaving Los Blancos with 10 victories. As we enter a new era, how will the first post-Messi Clásico end?
Find out where and how you can keep track of it with our match preview here and with all the TV listings to watch the game in the link below.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid Broadcast Information
Stadium: Camp Nou (Barcelona)
Canada: TSN App, TSN1, TSN.ca
France: Free, beIN SPORTS CONNECT, beIN Sports 1
India: JioTV, Voot Select, MTV India
Indonesia: beIN Sports Connect Indonesia, beIN Sports 1 Indonesia
Malaysia: beIN Sports Malaysia, beIN Sports Connect Malaysia
Nigeria: Startimes Sports Premium, Canal+ Sport 5 Afrique, SuperSport Laliga Nigeria, StarTimes App, DStv Now
Portugal: Eleven Sports 1 Portugal
Spain: Movistar Laliga, Movistar Laliga 2, Movistar+, Movistar Laliga 1
Turkey: Spor Smart, D-Smart GO, S Sport+
United Kingdom: Premier Player HD, LaLigaTV, Premier Sports 1
United States: ESPN App, ESPN+