8 of the Most Nail-Biting Games in Madrid Derby History

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Everyone talks about El Clásico. But the Madrid Derby has won a very special place in my heart, and it’s happening this weekend.

Similarly to the Real Madrid-FC Barcelona rivalry, the matchup between cross-city rivals is often told as a David and Goliath story. While I’d love to submerge us deep into the history of the two clubs over the course of the 20th century in order to disprove some of the things that you may hold to be true, suffice it to say that your preconceptions about the two giants might not be entirely accurate. This isn’t good vs. evil, power vs. people, aristocracy vs. working class, or even right vs. left. What is certain is that it is glamour and luxury against humility (a quick self-guided tour through the Santiago Bernabéu followed by a stroll through the Vicente Calderón will enlighten you to this fact).

As Sid Lowe notes time and time again in his work Fear and Loathing in La Liga in reference to the Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry, “symbolism is central, the construction of a narrative plays a key role and myths matter, but there are caveats everywhere, important flaws in the popularly held identities of the two clubs.” The Madrid derby is no different – myths matter; there’s no way around it. For whatever reason, you chose to be a colchonero – you decided that madridismo is where your heart is. As long as you’re hype for derby day, I’m happy.

Regardless of where you stand, this thing is happening and it’s going to be intense. Atléti has been struggling for form as of late, but let’s not forget that the colchoneros lost just 1 of 8 matches against their neighbors from Chamartín last season. It’s not only that; the rojiblancos held a decisive 11-3 goalscoring advantage to boot (this, of course, mired by Chicharito’s UCL quarter finals goal).

In honor of what’s sure to be an emotional weekend, here are eight memorable games in Madrid Derby history:


May 13, 1959: Real Madrid 2 - 1 Atlético de Madrid

This date marks the first meeting between Madrid foes in European competition, as the two battled for city glory in the semifinals of the 1958-59 European Cup. Madrid was three-time cup holder at the time, but Atlético dug out a 2-2 aggregate scoreline after two games to bring about a playoff in Zaragoza. Alfredo Di Stéfano opened the scoring, Enrique Collar equalized, but Ferenc Puskás had the final say.


June 27, 1992: Atlético de Madrid 2 - 0 Real Madrid

Bernd Schuster and Paulo Futre netted the two goals that crowned Atléti champions of Spain in the final of the 90th edition of the Copa del Rey. The strange, unusual, and completely bizarre thing about this one is that in an apparent stroke of pre-match genius, Luis Aragonés (Atléti’s coach at the time) is said to have picked up a bottle and yelled, “See this bottle? We’re going to stick it up their arses! Right the way up! Forget tactics. It’s Real Madrid at the Bernabéu. They’ve been sticking it up our arses for so long, now it’s our chance to stick it up theirs!” Welp, it worked…


October 30, 1999: Real Madrid 1 - 3 Atlético de Madrid

The colchoneros defeated the soon-to-be champions of Europe at home for the first time in nearly a decade. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scored a brace. Victories like this one would prove to be few and far between for Atléti.


January 19, 2003: Real Madrid 2 - 2 Atlético de Madrid

A random 2-2 draw in the middle of January? Why? Well what list would be complete without mention of Gérman “Mono” Burgos! The former Atléti goalkeeper and current assistant to fellow Argentine legend Diego “Cholo” Simeone saved Luís Figo’s penalty with his face in this match. Yup.


May 17, 2013: Real Madrid 1 - 2 Atlético de Madrid

As a madridista (who witnessed this live from the very last row after calling random phone numbers for hours on end trying to get my hands on a ticket), this one hurts. It hurts a lot. After 23 matches and 14 years, Atléti defeated Los Blancos 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final, thanks to a cabezazo from Miranda in the 99th minute. It looked like it would be all fun and games after Cristiano Ronaldo put Madrid ahead in the 14th, but no. It wasn’t. The posts came. The Diego Costa goal came. And in the days (and weeks) that followed, the Atléti anthem rang from all corners of the city. Here’s a link to the entire match (because you already know the whole La Décima match is coming).


May 24, 2014: Real Madrid 4 - 1 Atlético de Madrid

I’m just going to leave this here and say “MINUTO 93!” (How could I not love them if they were European champions for the tenth time? ?)


January 15, 2015: Real Madrid 2 - 2 Atlético de Madrid

I was just as psyched to watch la gran remontada as anyone else at the Bernabéu. Yes, Madrid was down 2-0 on aggregate in the Copa del Rey, but no worries, right? Wrong. A Ballon d’Or tifo, classic goals from Sergio Ramos and Cristiano himself couldn’t even do the trick. Why? Fernando “El Niño” Torres, that’s why. El rojiblanco de corazón scored two goals – one in the first minute of each half – to silence the disillusioned home fans.


April 22, 2015: Real Madrid 1 - 0 Atlético de Madrid

In a grueling quarterfinal derby that seemed set to become the third-ever scoreless UCL tie after two legs, our guy Javier “Chicharito” Hernández became the unlikely hero, striking at the buzzer with two minutes left to play. Atléti’s first loss in eight games!