Back for more: Joan Laporta comes face to face with Real Madrid once again

FC Barcelona’s new president was only elected a month ago but previously held the post between 2003 and 2010. 

His spell at the helm ushered in one of the most successful eras in Barça history and included some blockbuster ElClasico matches vs Real Madrid. 

Neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona made any signings in the January transfer market so we’re unlikely to see any new faces when they face each other in ElClasico on Saturday (10th April, 9pm CET). Yet, there will be a new, and at the same time very familiar face in the stands: Joan Laporta, Barça’s recently elected president who previously held the post between 2003 and 2010. 

Laporta is therefore no stranger to the spectacle of ElClasico. The Barcelona-born lawyer enjoyed many memorable ElClasico victories during his first spell, including a famous 6-2 win for the Blaugrana at the Santiago Bernabeu in Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge back in 2009. Barça’s ElClasico record during Laporta’s first tenure as president was positive: seven wins, two draws and just five defeats in 14 LaLiga encounters.  

Other unforgettable ElClasico moments for Laporta’s Barcelona included a last-gasp winner from Xavi Hernandez at the Bernabeu in 2004; Ronaldinho dismantling Los Blancos almost single-handedly in 2005 (a match which also happened to be the ElClasico debut of a certain Lionel Messi); 19-year-old Messi’s hat-trick in the dramatic 3-3 draw at the Camp Nou in 2007, and the 2009/10 home and away double win thanks to goal from Messi, Pedro and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  

His return to the ElClasico stage also means that Laporta will cross paths with Florentino Pérez once again, the Real Madrid president since 2009 and who previously held the role between 2000 and 2006. Images of the two presidents sitting side by side during some of the most intense ElClasico matches of the 2000s are fresh in the memory for most fans of these two clubs, even if more than a decade has now passed since Laporta stepped aside in 2010. Laporta and Pérez have always maintained a respectful relationship and a serious rivalry, and went head-to-head in seven ElClasico fixtures: Laporta’s Barcelona won five, while Perez’s Real Madrid came out on top just twice.  

Having only taken over the Barcelona presidency in March, Laporta is yet to mould the squad to his liking and he’ll surely look to compete with Pérez and Real Madrid for the biggest names in this summer’s transfer market. Yet he’ll already be as determined as ever to win another ElClasico and to enjoy the bragging rights in club football’s biggest rivalry.  

Laporta has always enjoyed injecting a bit of humour into the rivalry too. He went as far as launching his most recent presidential election campaign by installing a huge advertisement just yards from the Santiago Bernabeu in central Madrid. Ganas de volver a verso,” it read in Spanish… ‘Keen to see you again.’ 

This Saturday night, Laporta will finally get his wish and come face to face with Real Madrid once again as Barcelona president, albeit in new surroundings at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium. The first of what looks to be many reunions with Barça’s biggest rivals.  

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Lionel Messi comes into ElClasico as the man with all the records

The Argentine icon is now the Catalan club’s all-time leader in appearances and holds pretty much every other record going. 

ElClasico – Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona – the biggest club game in football featuring the best players in the world, is a usually a moment to stop and reflect on record-breakers. And there’s one name that comes up time and time again when you look at FC Barcelona’s club records. Surprise, surprise… it’s Lionel Messi.  

It makes sense that Messi holds so many records. He’s the only player in history to have won the Ballon d’Or for the world’s best player six times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019) for good reason. 

The Ballon d’Or may be a subjective award, but Messi has also won most of the annual objective prizes. That includes the European Golden Boot, the award for the player with the most league goals in each European football season, another six times: 2009/10, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19. Logically, Messi also won the Pichichi prize for LaLiga Santander’s top scorer in each of these years, as well as also winning the Pichichi in 2019/20 when he was the Spanish league’s top scorer without being Europe’s overall top scorer. That season, he scored 25 goals and provided 22 assists in the league, becoming the first player to ever score 20+ goals and provide 20+ assists.  

In 2012, Messi’s goalscoring abilities reached mind-blowing and unprecedented levels. In that calendar year, he scored a record-breaking 96 goals from January to December (84 with Barcelona and 12 with Argentina).  

And he’s the only player to have scored more than 40 goals in 10 consecutive seasons. Objectively speaking, then, he’s off the charts. That might even be an understatement.   

A record-breaker in ElClasico 

As the second ElClasico of the season approaches, Messi will be looking to add to his tally of 26 goals against Real Madrid. That’s the most ever in this special fixture, with 18 having come in LaLiga Santander, two in the Champions League and six in the Spanish Super Cup. That’s from 44 matches against Real Madrid, the most ever for a Barça player.  

It doesn’t stop there. In Barcelona’s recent 6-1 win over Real Sociedad at the end of March, Messi became the Blaugrana’s all-time top appearance maker in competitive matches, playing his 768th match with the club whose youth academy he joined at the age of 13. That put him ahead of the previous record-holder Xavi Hernández, another Barça legend.  

The record for the most goals for Barcelona had been held by César Rodríguez since the 1950s, who finished his time at the club with 232 goals. Messi has since smashed that record tally and, as of the end of March 2021, sits on 663 club goals. That makes him the player with the most goals for a single club, having surpassed Pelé’s Santos total of 643.  

In terms of hardware, Messi has won the most trophies with Barcelona. His 34 titles with the first team recently surpassed Andres Iniesta’s 32.

The LaLiga records 

Not only does Messi hold almost all club records at Barcelona, but he also tops the standings for scores of LaLiga records.  

His 467 LaLiga goals as of March 2021 are the most ever, well ahead of second-placed Cristiano Ronaldo (311). With 379 matches won in Spain’s top tier, Messi has also been part of a three-point haul more than anybody else, more than second-placed Iker Casillas’ 334.  

Other LaLiga records that stand out are Messi’s competition-leading 38 direct freekick goals or the fact that he holds the record for the most consecutive matchdays with at least one goal, netting in an incredible 19 games in a row in 2012/13.  

Barcelona vs Real Madrid may offer up the best match-ups, the most talented players and greatest storylines in football, but Lionel Messi continues to surprise and astound, 16 years after his ElClasico debut.  

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