- Real Madrid are set to face Barcelona for the 252nd time when both teams clash in the Copa del Rey
- Los Blancos will host Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday night in the Copa del Rey semi-final first-leg
- Real Madrid have been eliminated in three of their last four two-legged ties in the Copa del Rey against Barcelona
Real Madrid and Barcelona will once again serve football fans another spectacle when both teams clash in the Copa del Rey semi-final first-leg on Thursday, March 2.
The 252nd meeting between both Spanish giants will be a defining moment for their seasons as Barcelona continue to chase a domestic double while Real Madrid are seeking redemption.
Over the years, this fixture has given both sets of fans and the football world something to cheer on as it has always produced some of the best and most heated matchups in Europe.
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Real Madrid versus Barcelona has also produced some of the best player rivalries in football with the most recent involving Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Here, Sports Brief with the help of Goal highlights five of the most iconic El Clasico moments between Real Madrid and Barcelona in the 21st century.
1. A standing ovation for Ronaldinho (2005)
Ronaldinho was enjoying his best years in a Barcelona shirt at the time, the attacker at his brilliant, skillful best. And on that November night, he delivered a performance for the ages.
The Brazilian was actually kept relatively quiet for the first half, with Samuel Eto'o opening the scoring after receiving a pass from a young Messi before slotting home.
Ronaldinho erupted in the second half. Of course, there was the well-known iconic goal. The Brazilian began on the halfway line, snuck past a defenseless Real team, and beat Casillas at his near post.
Later, he added a second, and as he careered off in celebration, the crowded Bernabeu rose to its feet in applause, an acknowledgement of one of the greatest Clasico performances ever made.
2. Mourinho pokes Vilanova in the eye (2011)
With Mourinho in the technical area, the August 2011 Spanish Super Cup match really shouldn't have been that significant.
This definitely applied in this instance. Messi's late winner set off a brawl between the opposing teams in front of the dugouts. In the midst of the confusion, Mourinho approached Tito Vilanova, a Barca assistant, and poked the bewildered coach in the eye.
Despite Barcelona's protests, the referee missed the incident, and since there was no VAR at the time, nothing could be done. After the game, Mourinho apologized to the Madrid supporters, but he made it clear that he had no regrets about hitting Vilanova.
He received a two-game suspension for his antics, and it wasn't until years later that he offered an apology.
3. Messi's iconic shirt celebration (2017)
On April 24, 2017, Messi agreed to a pardonable booking, which led to one of the most famous Clasico celebrations ever.
Messi appeared uninterested as the Blaugrana pushed for a goal in the 92nd minute while simply floating 40 yards from goal when Barca launched a counterattack.
Messi snuck to the centre as Barca swept the ball up the left wing. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner took Jordi Alba's pass, a cut-back to the edge of the box, in stride before launching the ball past Courtois.
Messi would then rip his shirt off as he ran to the Real Madrid fans, and held his name and number aloft in celebration, a rare taunt from a modest superstar.
4. Bale runs off pitch to win Copa del Rey (2014)
When Barca and Real Madrid were tied at 1-1 with five minutes left in the Copa del Rey, Gareth Bale did something that didn't quite seem possible on a football field.
Just short of the halfway point, he recovered possession of the ball, and with his first touch, he sent the ball spinning past Marc Bartra and into a 30-yard area.
Bale continued to advance off the field as Bartra moved to block his path. He then sprinted through Barca's technical area and outran the defender by three meters.
The Welshman brushed off Bartra and poked the ball home to complete one of the most incredible goals in Clasico history.
5. Ronaldo calms Camp Nou (2012)
Cristiano Ronaldo coined another iconic celebration before he perfected his now-famous "siiii" celebration.
In 2012, Ronaldo turned in one of his best Clasico performances, scoring the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory at Camp Nou.
And as he turned away in celebration, Ronaldo performed the iconic "calma" celebration, telling the 90,000 Barcelona supporters to relax with the confidence of a player who just about secured Real Madrid the La Liga title.
Lewandowski to miss El Clasico
Earlier, Sports Brief reported Barcelona’s chances of winning this season’s Copa del Rey could be in shambles after the club announced an injury to top forward, Robert Lewandowski.
Lewandowski picked up a strain on his left hamstring in Barcelona’s surprise 1-0 loss to Almeria in La Liga on Sunday, February 26, and could be ruled out of action for a while.
The 34-year-old forward is not expected to be fit enough for Barcelona’s upcoming Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.