When Ronald Koeman gives his pre-match team-talk in the bowels of the Nou Camp on Saturday afternoon he will do so with the authority of a man who knows what it’s like to score against, be sent-off against, thrash, and be thrashed by, Real Madrid.
A glance back at his run-ins with the old enemy through his playing career suggest Saturday’s first encounter will be lively – he will demand his players make it so.
In terms of results Koeman managed six wins, three draws and five defeats. It’s one particular thumping 5-0 win that he will remember most fondly. In the 1993-94 season Barcelona beat Real Madrid 5-0 and Koeman’s free-kick – bending the ball around the wall and beyond Francisco Buyo, from the edge of the area, was the pick of the goals on a night when Romario got a hat-trick.
Ronald Koeman will take charge in his first El Clasico as Barcelona manager on Saturday
Koeman knows all about this fixture, having played in several as a player at Barcelona
Barcelona won the league that year and Madrid came in fourth with their coach Benito Floro not making it to the end of the season, in part because of that embarrassing reverse in the season’s most important fixture.
That free-kick goal from Koeman was one of five goals he scored against Madrid. He scored two penalties in his first Clasico in 1989 and he scored in 1-1 draws in 1991 and 1992. Barcelona never lost a Clasico when he scored.
But it did not always go as well for the 57-year-old who will stand in the dug-out on Saturday overseeing his first meeting with Madrid as Barca coach.
He suffered a 5-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu in the 1994-95 season playing 90 minutes in the debacle that saw Madrid take revenge for the 5-0 a year before.
Koeman scored a number of times against Madrid and Barcelona never lost when he did
The Dutchman’s stock is rising as Barcelona’s boss after their impressive start to the season
Koeman can draw strength from already having beaten Madrid as a manager with Valencia
Madrid centre-forward Ivan Zamorano scored a hat-trick and Koeman can be seen in various Madrid goal celebrations with his hand up for an offside flag that still has not arrived. That season it was Madrid who won the league and Barcelona who came in fourth.
He was also sent off twice playing Madrid. In an ill-tempered 3-2 win for Madrid at the Bernabeu in 1990 he kicked Paco Llorente and was shown a straight red. His team-mate Aloisio went the same way for head-butting Martin Vazquez. And Barca coach Johan Cruyff was sent to the stands. Madrid won the league in what was Cruyff’s last full season.
In the return leg of the Super Cup of the 1993-94 season Koeman saw red again after picking up two yellows at the Camp Nou. The first, for a forearm in the face of Alfonso Perez, just before half-time would probably have earned a straight red if the referee had been able to take a look at a VAR replay at the time.
Ronald Koeman and Zinedine Zidane’s EL Clasico records
Only as a Barcelona player:
Wins – 6
Draws – 3
Defeats – 5
As a Real Madrid player:
Wins – 4
Draws – 4
Defeats – 3
As Real Madrid boss:
Wins – 4
Draws – 3
Defeats – 2
The second yellow on 88 minutes was probably an ‘orange’ too with a late challenge on Rafael Alkorta long after the ball had gone. He hated losing and that will doubtless be transmitting that to his players as they prepare to take on Zinedine Zidane’s side.
Zidane’s Clasico memories are also varied. The pick of them would be from 2002 when Barcelona faced Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final and it was a Zidane chip that put them in front.
They won the first game 2-0 with Steve McMananaman also scoring and, with a draw in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, they reached the final where a wonder strike from Zidane helped them beat Bayer Leverkuesen.
Zidane has never lost in his five visits to Camp Nou as a coach. Koeman can draw strength from already having beaten Madrid twice as a manager, with Valencia and PSV.
Zidane scored a marvelous goal against Barcelona in the 2002 Champions League semi-final
It didn’t always go Zidane’s way and he is familiar with the pain of losing to the old enemy
Zidane infamously lost his temper and went for Luis Enrique in a fiesty El Clasico in 2003
As coaches right now their fortunes are moving in very different directions. Koeman’s stock is rising after an excellent start marred only by last week’s 1-0 defeat to Getafe which, intentionally or otherwise, he managed to turn into a disciplinary story about the behavior of Getafe’s Allan Nyom rather than a moment to ask if this was Barcelona’s awful away form last season reemerging under the new coach.
At home they have been impressive and unlike his opposite number he appears to have settled on his favoured XI. Zidane, in contrast, is already under pressure just three months after winning the league.
It does not help his case that there are two ideally-placed replacements. Raul is already at the club coaching the youth team, and hugely popular with supporters, and Mauricio Pochettino, currently without a job – and therefore a compensation fee – is also ready, willing and able if a change is decided upon.
If Zidane gets the better of Koeman then all talk of his position will be silenced, such is the weight of this fixture. As Clasico veterans both Zidane and Koeman know that only too well.
An inspired Cristiano Ronaldo gave Zidane his last victory as a manager at the Nou Camp
Zidane is under pressure as Madrid boss but knows a Clasico win will silence talk of his exit