As befits a nation with a record 13 European Cup wins, UEFA competition has often forced Spanish clubs into direct encounters, the latest of which comes when FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid meet in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg.
It will be the 11th all-Liga tie in the European Cup alone, and overall the 50th such fixture in UEFA completion. Many of those have naturally involved either Barcelona or Atlético, teams with 17 major UEFA honours between them. UEFA.com recalls the pick of those matches.
1958/59 European Cup semi-finals
Real Madrid CF 2-1/0-1/2-1 Club Atlético de Madrid
Madrid's run of winning the first five European Champion Clubs' Cups was so nearly stopped at three by their city rivals. In the days before away goals, Enrique Collar scored the only goal of the second leg to force a replay in Zaragoza, but although he swiftly cancelled out a strike from Alfredo Di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás decided the tie in the 42nd minute.
1959/60 European Cup semi-finals
Real Madrid CF 3-1/3-1 FC Barcelona
1960/61 European Cup first round
Real Madrid CF 2-2/1-2 FC Barcelona
Madrid proceeded to win the 1959 final and reached the next by comfortably seeing off Barcelona home and away prior to their famed 7-3 defeat of Eintracht Frankfurt in Glasgow. But they were to get a rude awakening as they began their bid for No6.
Barcelona had already negotiated K. Lierse SK in the preliminary round when they were paired again with Madrid. This time Barça drew 2-2 at Santiago Bernabéu with two Luis Suárez equalisers, the second a late penalty, and a 120,000 Camp Nou crowd was enraptured when Martín Vergés and Evaristo put them in control of the return, Madrid's trophy monopoly finally over despite an 87th-minute Canário response.
1976/77 UEFA Cup quarter-finals
Athletic Club 2-1/2-2 FC Barcelona
1979/80 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals
FC Barcelona 0-1/3-4 Valencia CF
Time passed, as is its wont, Barcelona losing the non-UEFA-organised 1962 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final to Valencia CF and beating Real Zaragoza for the trophy four years later. But Atlético can really take hope from Barça's next two all-Spanish affairs, both quarter-final defeats. Athletic Club put Barcelona out of the 1976/77 UEFA Cup and Valencia ousted the Blaugrana from the European Cup Winners' Cup three years later. Athletic were to reach the final and Valencia to lift the trophy.
1999/2000 UEFA Champions League semi-finals
Valencia CF 4-1/1-2 FC Barcelona
In the 1990s both Atlético and Barcelona won UEFA Cup third-round ties against compatriots; Barça taking out Sevilla FC in 1995/96 and Atleti overcoming Real Sociedad de Fútbol three years later. Yet it was the following campaign when Spain really stamped their mark, providing three UEFA Champions League semi-finalists in the first season when that was possible.
Both teams had been brilliant at home but muted away in the previous round, so Valencia knew they had to get a lead at Mestalla; although an early advantage was cancelled out, they were 3-1 up by the break and Kily González later set up Claudio López in added time. Barcelona did win the return 2-1 but only with two late goals, the tie long gone. Valencia then fell to Madrid in Paris in the first European Cup final between sides from the same country.
2001/02 UEFA Champions League semi-finals
FC Barcelona 0-2/1-1 Real Madrid CF
Barcelona outlasted RC Celta de Vigo on away goals in the 2000/01 UEFA Cup quarter-finals having departed the UEFA Champions League in the group stage; the next year they made the last four of the senior competition. Just as 42 years earlier, they were to play Madrid and the outcome was the same: Zinédine Zidane and Steve McManaman at Camp Nou ensuring the second leg was a formality. As in 1960, Madrid then beat a German club, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, with a famous performance – Zidane's winner – at Hampden Park to get to nine European Cups.
2010/11 UEFA Champions League semi-finals
Real Madrid 0-2/1-1 FC Barcelona
Nine years on, with Madrid still chasing their tenth title, Barcelona had lifted the trophy in 2006 and 2009 to add to their long-awaited 1992 victory. Their Liga rivalry had only intensified in that near-decade, yet when Barça were given a chance to avenge their 2002 reverse, few could have predicted the scoreline would be the exact opposite.
Lionel Messi, well into his pomp, scored two late Bernabéu goals, the second a memorable solo run, after Pepe had been sent off. The triumph was complete in torrential Camp Nou rain a week later and Barcelona were to down Manchester United FC for the second time in three finals for their fourth continental crown. They still await No5 despite six straight quarter-final wins.
2009/10 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals
Valencia CF 2-2/0-0 Club Atlético de Madrid
2011/12 UEFA Europa League semi-finals
Club Atlético de Madrid 4-2/1-0 Valencia CF
2011/12 UEFA Europa League final
Club Atlético de Madrid 3-0 Athletic Club
Atlético may be at this stage of the European Cup for the first time in 17 years, but their UEFA Europa League record since the 2009 rebranding has been admirable. Having exited the UEFA Champions League group stage with three draws and three losses in 2009/10, only pipping APOEL FC to third spot on away goals, they thrived in the relaunched UEFA Cup.
The Valencia quarter-final was set up when Atlético edged Sporting Clube de Portugal with a 0-0 home draw and 2-2 away result. Valencia, coincidentally, had also come through the last 16 against SV Werder Bremen on away goals after two draws, so it was apt how this tie was settled. Diego Forlán and Antonio López gave Atlético leads at Mestalla, only for Valencia to equalise each time, before an ensuing stalemate in Madrid made those away strikes decisive. Atlético then beat Liverpool FC and Fulham FC to collect their first European trophy for 48 years.
Two years later they were lifting the cup again. Valencia stood in their way in the last four, and a Falcao brace prefigured what was an ultimately comfortable triumph. Athletic were Atlético's opponents in an alliterative Bucharest final where Falcao – the previous year's final match winner for FC Porto against compatriots SC Braga – scored twice before half-time for Atlético, with Diego making sure.
Falcao, who had a particularly impressive strike rate against Barcelona, may have quit Atlético last summer, yet he left the club with fresh memories of all-Liga triumphs in Europe. And Barcelona need not fret if they lose at Camp Nou on Tuesday; in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 – the most recent continental Spanish derby – Sevilla fell 2-0 at home to Real Betis Balompié in the first leg, only to reverse that scoreline and prevail on penalties in the return.
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