Barcelona vs Real Madrid
An examination of football's greatest rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid by the top Spanish football expert and historian Sid Lowe
‘A history of modern Spain told through one of world football's most intense rivalries’ Independent
‘Sports Book of the Year’ Sunday Times
It’s Messi vs Ronaldo, it’s Catalonia vs Castilla. It’s the nation against the state, freedom fighters vs Franco’s fascists. It’s majestic goals and mesmerising skills, red cards and bench brawls. It’s the best two teams on the planet going face to face and toe to toe.
It’s more than a game. It’s a war.
It’s Barcelona vs Real Madrid.
Only, it’s not that simple. From the wounds left by the civil war to the teams’ recent global domination, historian and expert on Spanish football, Sid Lowe lifts the lid on sport’s greatest rivalry. Lowe has spoken to the biggest names and the forgotten heroes who defined their clubs. Men like Alfredo Di Stéfano and Johan Cruyff as well as the only survivor of the most politically charged game in history, the Barcelona striker who knocked Madrid out of the European Cup for the first time ever, and the president who celebrated his club’s defining moment by taking a midnight dip in the Thames.
By exploring the history, politics, culture, economics and language, while never forgetting the drama on the pitch, Lowe demonstrates the symbiotic nature of the relationship between these two football giants. In doing so he reveals the human story behind this explosive rivalry.
“One of the year’s best football books … an extremely well-informed and usefully myth-busting portrait”
“Sports Book of the Year”
“Football Books of the Year: Sid Lowe isn’t an ordinary football writer and, as a result, this is not an ordinary football book. Lowe paces it all so well ... like an engaging lesson from your favourite teacher”
“A revelation. Anyone interested in Spain's two biggest teams can learn something new from this labour of love ... tackling tricky subjects with skill and weaving them into an engaging story. For that, this book stands out from the rest.”
“Lowe is a man with deep knowledge. He is a proper researcher. His list of interviewees – from Di Stéfano to Beckham – is a Who's Who of six decades of football. And his re-runs of past epic matches make you seek out grainy YouTube videos.”
Henry Winter, @henrywinter
“A history of modern Spain told through one of world football's most intense rivalries. It conjures up the complex passions of a country whose national team has become not only the best in the world at present, but, some say, the best ever”
Chris Maume, Independent
“Like so many of Spain's deep rifts, the enmity stems from the civil war. Barcelona represent the losers, democrats, Catalonia. Real Madrid represent the victors, repressors, Spain. Lowe's detailed study shows that the caricature is simplistic but not entirely incorrect”
Nick Pitt, The Sunday Times
“A work of profound research and stimulating discoveries… Lowe has done El Clasico a service by defining its history”
Hugh MacDonald, Herald
“Lowe's impressive list of interviewees includes Alfredi di Stéfano, Johan Cruyff, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Andrés Iniesta. …There are also neat mentions of Barça's (unwitting) role in the murder of Leon Trotsky, as well as Madrid’s links to the Beatles in the 1960s and Pedro Almodovar in the 1980s”
Dermot Corrigan, When Saturday Comes
“Far more than simply Messi vs Ronaldo, the rivalry between two of the most colossal teams in football, as unfolded in this excellent history, pitches Catalonia against Spain, Franco against the republic, north versus south, and so much more”
“A truly outstanding account of an intense football rivalry which exists between Barcelona and Real Madrid”
Oldham Evening Chronicle
“An extremely well-informed and usefully myth-busting portrait of the long rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid”
Richard Williams, Guardian Online
“Fascinating... This one ought not to be missed”
“Much more than the story of two men or two teams or even a game. Barcelona v Real Madrid is one of the greatest rivalries in modern football and this is its forensic history”
“Turns much of the accepted wisdom about the rivalry on its head”
Robert O'Shea, Evening Echo
“A well-informed, myth-busting history of modern Spain told through one of the world’s most intense football rivalries”
“Rich, engrossing book”
Michael Walker, Irish Times