Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona: 20 Most Memorable Matches Down the Years
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid will meet for the 213th time, as per Cero a Cero (in Spanish) when they square off in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.
Barcelona have the historical advantage in victories (93 to 69) and goals (410 to 319), but Atletico have always made for good opponents and there have been some thrilling encounters between the sides over the years.
Here we look at the 20 most memorable matches between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
All results information is courtesy of Cero a Cero and the RSSSF.
1925: The First Meeting
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid met for the first time in 1925, in what is now known as the Copa del Rey but was at the time named the Copa de Su Majestad El Rey Alfonso XIII.
Barcelona had progressed to the semi-final stage by topping a group featuring Valencia and Stadium de Zaragoza, while Atletico had defeated Sevilla over three matches to top their two-team group.
Barcelona won the first leg 3-2, but Atletico fought back to take a 2-1 victory in the return. The rules of the competition necessitated a playoff, which Barcelona won 2-1. They then defeated Arenas Club 2-0 in the final to secure their sixth Copa del Rey trophy.
1929: The First La Liga Meeting
The Spanish national league championship, La Liga, began in 1929 and Atletico Madrid and Barcelona were two of the 10 teams invited to take part in its inaugural season.
They met on Matchday 5 at the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid, with Atletico, coached by the Englishman Fred Pentland (who would go on to lead Athletic Bilbao to league and cup doubles in each of the two subsequent seasons), winning 4-1 with two goals apiece from Cosme Vasquez and Guillermo Yllera.
It was a surprising result, but one that Barcelona recovered from, winning 10 of their remaining 13 fixtures–including a 4-0 win at home to Atletico–to be crowned champions.
1943: The First Manita: Barcelona 5-0 Atletico Madrid
Manita (literally "little hand") is an expression used in Spanish football to indicate a thrashing that includes five goals–one for every finger. It is the ultimate humiliation, one that until 1943 had not been witnessed in a match between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
That all changed on the 28th February of that year, as on a day of thrashings across the league (Real Madrid beat Espanyol 7-0 and Valencia defeated Betis 8-3), Barcelona ran riot on a hapless Atletico side to win 5-0 in front of their home supporters.
The result saw Barcelona close to within six points of leaders Athletic Bilbao, but it was a gap they were only able to reduce to four by the end of the campaign. They finished third behind Sevilla and winners Athletic, with Atletico, coached by legendary goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, ending the season in eighth.
1950: Atletico Madrid 6-4 Barcelona
The first 10-goal match between the sides occurred in 1950 in front of a spellbound crowd at the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid. "The final result was a consequence of the failure of both defences," Mundo Deportivo wrote in their match report (in Spanish) the next morning.
Barcelona took an early lead through Marcos Aurelio, but Atletico stormed back to lead 3-1 at the break thanks to goals from Adrian Escudero, Rafael Mugica and Antonio Duran.
Early-second-half goals from Henry Carlsson and Escudero (who would end the season as Atletico's top-scorer with 19 goals) put Atletico 5-1 up, before Cesar Rodriguez and Marcos Aurelio again reduced the difference to two goals. A goal apiece in the final couple of minutes, Atletico's scored by Jose Juncosa and Barcelona's by Rodriguez, saw the match end 6-4.
Atletico, emboldened by an early-season victory over one of their title rivals, went on to claim their second consecutive La Liga title at the end of the season. Their coach, Helenio Herrera, would later go on to enjoy success with Barcelona.
1953: Barcelona 8-1 Atletico Madrid
Barcelona won the league and cup double in 1952-53, progressing to the final of the latter competition courtesy of a 9-3 aggregate victory over Atletico in the semi-finals, including an 8-1 victory at home that remains the biggest winning margin in a match between the two sides.
Ferdinand Daucik's team were high scorers throughout the campaign, scoring 82 times in 30 league matches, and proved too much for an Atletico side that would finish seventh in the league that season.
A hat-trick from Estanislau Basora, two goals apiece from Laszlo Kubala and Moreno and one from Cesar Rodriguez gave Barcelona a first-leg lead that they successfully defended in the second match, before defeating Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in the final.
1956: Barcelona 7-3 Atletico Madrid
This remains the joint-highest scoring fixture in meetings between the two sides and was the first of a number of thrashings Barcelona handed out to Atletico in this period, including a 8-1 victory in 1957 and a 5-0 triumph in 1958.
Writing at the time, Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish) noted that a young Barcelona team had "demonstrated its speed and quality," in swatting Atletico aside at Les Corts.
Future Ballon d'Or winner Luis Suarez (then 21) scored four of the Barcelona goals, with Justo Tejada (23) netting the other three. The pair of them, alongside the Hungarian trio of Laszlo Kubala, Sandor Kocsis and Zoltan Czibor, goalkeeper Antoni Ramallets and Brazilian forward Evaristo, were key elements of the team who won back-to-back league titles, the Copa del Rey and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup between 1958 and 1960 under the tutelage of Helenio Herrera.
1973: The Phantom Goal of Cruyff: Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid
Johan Cruyff had already won six Dutch league titles with Ajax when he joined Barcelona in the summer of 1973 and quickly endeared himself to the Catalan public by inspiring the club to their first league title in 14 years in his first season at the Camp Nou.
He scored 16 goals in 26 appearances during the campaign, but none are as fondly and widely remembered as his goal in the 2-1 victory against Atletico Madrid in December of 1973.
As a right-flank cross flew over his shoulder, Cruyff leapt and span around in one motion, contorting his body to produce a mid-air back-heeled finish. It was immediately christened "The Phantom Goal" and remains a part of the folklore of Barcelona and Cruyff to this day.
1974: Atletico Madrid 3-3 Barcelona
This match came early into a season in which neither Barcelona nor Atletico were genuine title contenders, finishing, respectively, 13 and 15 points shy of league champions Real Madrid, but it was nevertheless a highly entertaining affair.
"Emotions aplenty and a great point for the Azulgrana," wrote Mundo Deportivo in their match report (in Spanish) the next day.
Atletico raced into a two-goal lead with a double from three-time Pichichi winner Jose Garate, but Barcelona responded through Carlos Rexach and went into the break on level terms thanks to a 42nd-minute strike from Manuel Marcial.
Manuel Clares put Barca ahead 20 minutes from time, only for Atletico to notch an equaliser, through Javier Irureta, during a frantic final flurry.
1976: Atletico Madrid 3-1 Barcelona
Atletico Madrid would go on to be crowned league champions for the eighth time at the end of the 1976-77 season and this early-season victory over Barcelona proved vital, as Atletico finished just a point clear of the Catalans in the final reckoning.
Luis Aragones' side had a strong South American core, with two Argentinians, two Brazilians and a Paraguayan each playing a role in the league-title success. The strike partnership of Ruben Ayala and Argentinian-born-Spaniard Ruben Cano was particularly important. Between them, they scored 42 league goals.
Atletico were quick out of the traps in the victory over Barcelona, with goals from Cano, Ramon Heredia and Eugenio Leal, pictured by ABC Madrid, seeing them go in 3-0 up at half-time. Johan Cruyff pulled one back early in the second half, but Atletico held out for the three points.
1987: Atletico Madrid 0-4 Barcelona
This match came towards the end of the British invasion of Barcelona, with Terry Venables in the dugout and Gary Lineker and Steve Archibald among the goalscorers.
Venables would be sacked just five months later, but he and his side were in fine form on this April evening in Madrid, smashing Atletico for four with goals from the aforementioned Archibald and Lineker, alongside further strikes from Francisco Carrasco and Ramon Caldere.
"Barcelona ended the first phase of La Liga in perfect fashion and enter the playoffs with big hopes," Mundo Deportivo wrote in their match report (in Spanish) the next day. That hope was not realised as Barcelona ended the campaign a point shy of champions Real Madrid.
Atletico did, of course, briefly flirt with British management themselves during the 1980s, with Ron Atkinson and his assistant Colin Addison each taking charge for part of the 1988-89 season, but leaving after falling out with owner Jesus Gil.
1989: Atletico Madrid 4-0 Barcelona
This Copa del Rey quarter-final, second-leg success remains Atletico's joint-largest victory over Barcelona.
Atletico took a first-half lead through Donato and doubled their advantage through another Brazilian, Baltazar, early in the second half. Baltazar then scored his second with an excellent free-kick from just outside the area before Manuel Sanchez profited from slack defending to drill home a fourth.
The victory, in combination with a 3-3 first-leg draw, saw Atletico progress to semi-finals, where they were defeated 3-0 on aggregate by local rivals Real Madrid.
1993: Atletico Madrid 4-3 Barcelona
Atletico came into this early-season match in 10th position in the table and were the clear underdogs against a Barcelona side who headed the table and had won each of the previous three league titles.
In the first half, the form book proved correct as Barcelona raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to a wonderfully taken hat-trick from Romario. The expectation was that the Catalans would cruise to a comfortable victory, but Atletico had other ideas.
Roman Kosecki pulled one back two minutes into the second half and then Pedro Gonzalez reduced the deficit to one with a pile driver of a free-kick before the hour mark. After a brief lull, Kosecki, whose pace caused problems for the Barcelona defence throughout the second half, pounced on a poor defensive header from Albert Ferrer to equalise on 73 minutes.
There was still time for Atletico's Pirri Mori to receive his marching orders and then, just as it looked as if the match would end in a draw, for Jose Luis Caminero to complete the most unlikely of comebacks, finishing low past Andoni Zubizarreta to give Atletico all three points.
1994: Barcelona 5-3 Atletico Madrid
Just five months after the match covered by the last slide, towards the end of the same season, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid put on another showcase of brilliant attacking football, sharing eight goals and four red cards in a 5-3 victory for Barca at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona were on their way to the fourth and last league title of the Johan Cruyff era and began the match on the offensive, with Romario receiving Pep Guardiola's slide-rule pass and aiming a lovely chip over Abel Resino to open the scoring in the 12th minute.
Atletico struck back, with goals from Pedro Gonzalez, Manolo Sanchez and Jose Luis Caminero, the latter two sandwiched between a rasping free-kick from Barca's Hristo Stoichkov, seeing them go into the break with a 3-2 advantage.
This time it was Barcelona who came back strong in the second half. Romario completed his hat-trick and then laid on the fifth for Stoichkov to complete a memorable night of action.
1996: Copa Del Rey Final: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona
Atletico got the better of Barcelona on three separate occasions during their league-and-cup-double-winning season of 1995-96, winning both league encounters by three goals to one and triumphing in the final of the Copa del Rey.
The last mentioned was by no means a classic match, ending goalless after normal time, but Milinko Pantic's extra-time header nudged Atletico to victory and their first ever league and cup double.
Current Atletico coach Diego Simeone was part of the winning XI.
1997: Barcelona 5-4 Atletico Madrid
The two sides met in the quarter-final of the 1996-97 Copa del Rey, with Barcelona winning 7-6 on aggregate after two pulsating 90 minutes of football.
The first leg in Madrid ended in a 2-2 draw and when Atletico went in at half-time of the second leg three goals to the good, thanks to a hat-trick from Milinko Pantic, the tie looked to be all but over.
Barca pulled two goals back early in the second half through Ronaldo, but Pantic scored again to give Atletico a two-goal advantage going into the final 25 minutes. Bobby Robson, with his would-be successor Louis Van Gaal watching on from the stands, cut a worried figure on the touchline.
He need not have been so concerned. Figo reduced Barca's deficit to one with a superb strike from the edge of the area on 67 minutes, Ronaldo equalised on 72 and then, with just under 10 minutes left to play, Juan Antonio Pizzi fired in from close range to complete a remarkable turnaround.
In their match report (in Spanish) the next day, El Mundo Deportivo described it as "the most vibrant, emotional and spectacular match of recent years."
1997: Ronaldo Steals the Headlines: Atletico Madrid 2-5 Barcelona
Ronaldo's stay in Barcelona was as short as it was spectacular. The Brazilian scored 47 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions during his sole season at the Camp Nou, including a hat-trick in this late-season victory away to Atletico Madrid.
But it wasn't just Ronaldo's goalscoring prowess that attracted headlines the next day. He had been on a receiving end of abuse from Atletico's ultras throughout the match and responded in kind following his third goal with a rude gesture, as pictured by Mundo Deportivo.
The match itself was typical of the open, end-to-end matches these sides regularly contested during this time period. There was action aplenty at both ends of the pitch, while current Atletico coach Diego Simeone was sent off for an ugly challenge on Luis Figo.
1998: Atletico Madrid 5-2 Barcelona
Barcelona were already league champions by this point of their first season under the stewardship of Louis Van Gaal, but Atletico coach Radomir Antic will still have taken a degree of pleasure in righting the scoreline of the previous year with a comprehensive victory.
This match is, however, likely to be best remembered for its first goal, scored by Rivaldo. Picking up a loose ball in midfield, he looked up, saw that Atletico goalkeeper Jose Molina had advanced a few steps from his goal line and, from just inside the attacking half, struck the ball sweet and true over Molina's head and into the back of the net.
None of Atletico's goals were quite as memorable, although Jose Luis Caminero's delicate lob from the edge of the area certainly came close. A comical own-goal from Barcelona's Fernando Couto would also have been in the running in any normal match, but this particular encounter had already been illuminated by the genius of Rivaldo.
2008: Atletico Madrid 4-2 Barcelona
Barcelona were but a mere shell of their former selves in their final season under the command of Frank Rijkaard, yet still had the individual quality to produce moments of brilliance, as Ronaldinho did in this thrilling defeat away to Atletico.
Barcelona and Atletico have both regularly benefited from the genius of South American players over the years and this particular match had numerous examples of the innate talent that has led to so many players from the continent thriving for these two sides.
Ronaldinho opened the scoring with a beautifully executed overhead kick (chilena), smooth and precise, while Sergio Aguero, not yet 20, twisted and turned his way to two fantastic goals and a superb assist for Maxi Rodriguez, in addition to winning a penalty dispatched by Diego Forlan.
2009 - Atletico Madrid 4 - 3 Barcelona
Writing in the Guardian, Sid Lowe described this match as "fantastic fun, breathless and brilliant," and it would be difficult to argue with that appraisal.
It pitted a swashbuckling Atletico against a Pep Guardiola-led Barcelona side who were closing in on the league title and was played at breakneck pace, with chances aplenty at both ends of the pitch.
Barca went two up through stunning goals from Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi, before Atletico struck back with a long-range belter from Diego Forlan and a well-taken strike from Sergio Aguero. Henry restored the away side's lead, only for late goals from Forlan (from the penalty spot) and Aguero to give Atletico the victory.
2011: Barcelona 5-0 Atletico Madrid
The most recent Manita and one of the last truly great performances from Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, coming early into his final season at the club.
This match was all about Lionel Messi, who lit up the Camp Nou with a spellbindingly brilliant performance, displaying his full range of dribbling and finishing skills in notching a hat-trick in a dominant Barcelona victory.
"What are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to stop Lionel Messi?" wrote Rob Smyth in The Guardian.
The opening goal, scored by David Villa (now of Atletico) was pretty special too.