El Clasico is a match that captures the world's attention, for a huge span of reasons.
It's a commercial behemoth, with not just merchandise but sponsorships and in-game advertising slots banking on it for notice. It's a huge draw to new potential fanbases, with one exerting dominance and influence over the other, showing the world they are the ones to follow.
Lest we forget, it's also somewhat of an important sporting event: often a title-decider even when it's mid-season, at other times a game that can dictate where a trophy may end up—just like at the start of this season when Real Madrid lifted the Supercopa in Spain by vanquishing Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate.
But if rivalry spawns financial exploitation and captures the imagination, it also provides a breeding ground for oneupmanship: kids at school berating each other when their team loses; former players suggesting their old rivals are done, finished, beaten; current players taking the opportunity to twist the knife and make a statement of intent for the rest of the season.
El Clasico is a playground, and not everybody plays fairly. Here are the most memorable take-downs from the rivalry in recent times—plenty of them featuring the most prominently involved defensive duo of all, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique.
8. La Manita
We begin with Pique, and why not? He's involved most frequently, after all, either inciting disagreements with his words or being on the receiving end as fans and players want to get back at him, the outspoken member of the Barca squad.
Back in 2010, Barca hammered Real 5-0; the scoreline should have been enough (and the fact Jeffren scored a goal), but Pique brought it home for the Madrid fans in more memorable form, holding up all five fingers to the crowd.
It was replicating the gesture of Johan Cruyff's old assistant, Bruins Slot, and immediately made Pique the target of Real Madrid ire for years to come.
7. The cone and the obsession
Alvaro Arbeloa was a generally inoffensive part of Real Madrid's squad, an important member but hardly the star showing.
Still, Pique couldn't resist a little dig when questions came his way, calling the full-back a training cone, per Marca, in an interview.
Unrelated to that spat, Arbeloa took a moment of his own time to label Pique "obsessed" by Real Madrid, with FourFourTwo reporting the now-retired defender as saying "One day, I'll go to a comedy club and Pique will be there, talking about Real Madrid."
6. 1 point is better than none
Gracias por vuestras felicitaciones por el punto del Madrid,lo siento no puedo decir lo mismo😉,buenas noches twitteros.2016-10-2 20:59:17
Key to all (allowable) savagery, especially on social media, is timing.
Barca fans jumped the gun when they attempted to take down former Real midfielder and current youth-team coach Guti Hernandez, sending him condolences for the team's 1-1 home draw with Eibar early in 2016/17 season.
The Catalan outfit played later that evening...and yep, they lost, 4-3 to Celta Vigo. Guti was happy to oblige, naturally, with his response:
"Thanks for your 'well wishes' for the point for Real Madrid, sorry I can't say the same. Good night, Twitterers."
5. The invitation
Real Madrid are the undisputed champions of Europe, having won the UEFA Champions League for the past two years.
It's a turnaround, given Barcelona dominated the European scene for several years under Pep Guardiola, and los Blancos are justifiably revelling in their No. 1 status now.
When asked about the presence of Real and lack of Barca in the final last year, there was a quick response from Sergio Ramos. "I sent an invitation to Pique, but he didn’t answer," was his reply, per Metro.
Iker Casillas asking if Bartra has caught Bale yet on his Instagram live story. 😂 https://t.co/X7982gS8Sn2017-3-22 13:00:29
There's nothing quite like being taken down by a fellow pro to put you in your place, on or off the pitch.
Unfortunately for Marc Bartra, he received a two-in-one from former Spain international team-mate and goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Former Barca centre-back Bartra—now at Borussia Dortmund—was live on his Instagram page when a comment from ex-Real Madrid stopper Casillas—now at Porto—popped up: "have you caught Bale yet?"
The question was in reference to Bartra being absolutely rinsed for pace by Madrid winger Gareth Bale, with the Welshman taking on the Barca man, racing around on the outside of the pitch and still leaving him for dead after retrieving the ball. Worse still for Bartra, Bale went on to score at the end of the run—winning the Copa del Rey final in the process.
Proof that Clasico rivalry lives on even after both parties have left the clubs!
3. Ronaldo does a Messi
If imitation is the highest form of praise, Cristiano Ronaldo was effectively bowing down to Lionel Messi's greatness here—but it's not likely that was the intention.
Messi's shirt celebration, displaying his number to the fans after scoring last season, was replicated by Madrid's own legendary goalscorer after netting in the Clasico this summer.
An impressive response—except Ronaldo was booked for his misdemeanour, then sent off for a second yellow minutes later.
2. Se queda
The Santiago Bernabeu only comes together as one in a very few select moments: cheering as a poorly performing player is subbed off, goals against Barcelona and jeering their own team after the odd draw or defeat in 30.
Recently, though, they added a new chapter to that camaraderie: joining in chorus to serenade Pique, subbed off in the Supercopa.
Se queda was the chant: "He's staying," a reference to Pique's infamous tweet regarding Neymar, shortly before the Brazilian departed for Paris Saint-Germain.
1. Tears of joy
Ridiculousness reigns supreme in the trolling stakes, and Pique's non-word-based critique of a major Madrid mishap will comfortably stand the test of time.
Real were midway through playing a Copa del Rey match when it became apparent that one of those on the pitch, namely Denis Cheryshev, was suspended and shouldn't have been taking part. He was quickly subbed off but not before the world had already imparted their disbelief/shock/hilarity, depending on their position.
Gerard Piqué @3gerardpique
No prizes for guessing where Pique stood on that particular scale, and his tweet takes top spot for timing, impact and being so memorable.