El Centrocampista

Classic el Clásico #1 – Ronaldinho conquers Real Madrid and the Bernabeu

Barcelona’s 3-0 victory at the Bernabeu in November 2005 saw one of the finest individual performances in clásico history, a display that even had the home fans applauding.

It was arguably Ronaldinho’s greatest moment as a player and the Brazilian magician received an impromptu standing ovation from the Madrid faithful, who acknowledged they had witnessed something truly special. Their own team however, received a cacophony of jeers as they trudged away.

Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring for Barça in the 14th minute when he picked up a ball on the edge of the area, and fired a low shot past a desperate Iker Casillas. A young Lionel Messi had begun the move with a marauding run from just near the half way line – something we were to get used to over the next few years.

Vanderlei Luxemburgo’s ageing galactico side were no match for the movement of Frank Rijkaard’s league leaders, and Ronaldhinho began to exert his authority on the game as it progressed. Just before the hour mark, the Brazilian picked the ball up ten yards inside the Real Madrid half and set off on a devastating run towards the Madrid goal.

Moments later, the ball was nestled in the back of the Madrid goal and three defenders were looking a little bewildered. Still the visitors came forward and almost added to their advantage but for some great goalkeepering from Casillas.

Ronaldinho was in unstoppable form however, and in the 77th minute he again set off on a mesmeric run down the left side of the Madrid half. There was no stopping the two-time world footballer of the year, and his cool finish marked one of the most remarkable incidents in clásico history as thousands of fans in the Bernabeu rose to their feet to show their appreciation for a sublime performance from the man they called Gaucho.

It was a truly special footballing moment, made all the more impressive when you consider who else was on the field at the time; Zidane, Ronaldo, Beckham, Xavi and the young Messi. 2005/06 proved to be a memorable season for la blaugrana as they went on to league and Champions League glory, while their bitter rivals could only look on with envy.

Ronaldinho was the greatest player on the planet and it was a privilege for all those who saw him play those relatively short years in his prime at Barcelona. Watching him in full flight, pony tail trailing in the wind, was a spectacular sight indeed.


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