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When Real Madrid were pitted against Barcelona in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, football fans the world over were left salivating at the prospect of four El Clasicos in the space of three weeks.
A 1-1 draw in the Primera Liga left Barca on course for the Spanish title before Real claimed Copa del Rey glory to give Jose Mourinho his first trophy since taking charge at the Santiago Bernabeu.
They are now halfway through their European tie following Wednesday's first leg and we will discover next week who will take their place in the Wembley showpiece, most likely against Manchester United.
Clashes between these two teams have always appealed to a global audience, not just because of the fierce domestic rivalry but also because it produces some of the greatest spectacles, with a world-class array of talent on display on both sides.
While there have been some thrilling encounters throughout history, skysports.com here counts down ten of the most memorable from the modern era.
Brazilian superstar Romario was the leading scorer in Spanish football during this season and he saved arguably his finest performance for the home clash with Real, scoring a hat-trick to inspire Barcelona to an emphatic victory. Ronald Koeman and Ivan Iglesias also scored for the Catalan club, who just beat Deportivo La Coruna to the Primera Liga title. Real had a disappointing campaign and could only finish fourth.
It was a complete role reversal the following year, with Barca finishing fourth and Real emerging as champions. Ivan Zamorano was top of the goalscoring charts and it was the Chilean striker who grabbed a treble to lead Los Blancos to a 5-0 success against their greatest adversaries. Luis Enrique and Jose Emilio Amavisca were the other players to find the target on a night of sweet revenge at the Bernabeu.
Two for the price of one here as we recall the last time these two sides crossed swords in the Champions League, and it also happened to be at the semi-final stage. Real drew first blood at the Camp Nou as goals from Zinedine Zidane and former Liverpool winger Steve McManaman gave them a commanding 2-0 lead to take back home for the return leg. The match in Madrid finished 1-1 as a Raul strike was cancelled out by an Ivan Helguera own goal, but all that mattered was Real's aggregate advantage.
Not the most amazing game ever played between these two but there was no shortage of drama as Luis Figo felt the wrath of the Barcelona faithful. The Portugal midfielder had left Camp Nou a couple of years earlier to make a controversial switch to Real and many Barca fans felt betrayed despite the part he had played in their success. Riots nearly led to this league fixture being abandoned and objects were thrown onto the pitch when Figo ventured near the touchline, including a pig's head.
The era of the 'galactico' never quite reaped the rewards that president Florentino Perez would have liked and Real were pipped to the Primera Liga title by Barca in 2004/5, but they still produced a majestic performance to come out on top at the Bernabeu. While Samuel Eto'o and Ronaldino found the net for Barca, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Raul and another former Liverpool man, Michael Owen, struck for a rampant Real.
It takes something special for a Barcelona player to earn applause from Real Madrid supporters but that is precisely what happened in November 2005 as Ronaldinho delivered a scintillating individual display. Samuel Eto'o broke the deadlock for Barca before the Brazilian playmaker took centre stage, twice embarking on mesmerising runs from deep to score a spectacular double. By the end Real were jeered off by their own fans, while Ronaldinho received a standing ovation.
Lionel Messi became the first player to score an El Clasico hat-trick since Zamorano 12 years earlier when his treble earned a precious point for ten-man Barca at home to Real. Ruud van Nistelrooy bagged a brace for Real, under the management of Fabio Capello at the time, while Sergio Ramos also struck for the visitors. Only a couple of couple of goals from the up-and-coming Messi had kept Barca in the game but it looked like they would slide to defeat after having Oleguer sent off, until the young Argentine skipped past a couple of challenges and beat Iker Casillas to salvage a 3-3 draw.
Real Madrid had already won the Primera Liga title when they entertained Barcelona in May 2008 but they celebrated in style with a crushing victory over their fierce foes. Raul's fine finish opened the scoring, an unmarked Arjen Robben headed home the second and substitute Gonzalo Higuain made it 3-0. Ruud van Nistelrooy then converted a penalty after a Carles Puyol handball, before Thierry Henry restored a modicum of Barca pride. It was not quite all over for the Catalan club, though, with Xavi shown a late red card.
Barcelona completed an unprecedented Treble of Primera Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2009 but the moment that might have given their fans the most satisfaction was this staggering victory away to Real. It briefly looked like it might be a difficult night for Barca when Gonzalo Higuain fired Los Blancos into an early lead, but Pep Guardiola's side came storming back courtesy of Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi doubles, while Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique were also on the scoresheet and Sergio Ramos netted Real's second.
A performance that prompted many experts to label Barcelona the best team in history, Real Madrid were simply torn apart by a dazzling exhibition of attacking football at Camp Nou in the first of this season's five El Clasicos. Jose Mourinho had been appointed Real boss in the summer in an effort to bring a period of Barcelona dominance to an end, but the gulf appeared wider than ever as the hosts ran riot. First-half goals from Xavi and Pedro set Barca on course for three league points, while a double from David Villa after the interval and a late Jeffren strike sealed Real's demise.
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