New Delhi: Although the city of Madrid currently boasts several LALIGA teams, Real Madrid vs Atletico de Madrid is the big one for many natives of the city, known as madrilenos.
After Real Madrid were officially established in 1902, and then Atletico the following year, the two sides faced off in various friendlies and unofficial meetings before the first recorded official meeting in the Campeonato Regional Centro, a 1-1 draw on December 2, 1906.
The rivalry continued through different regional and national championships, until 1928/29 when LALIGA began with both clubs as initial founder members. Their first meeting in the new competition came on February 24, 1929 at Real Madrid’s Chamartín stadium. The home team won 2-1, with an extra edge added as both goals were scored by forward Monchin Triana, who had joined from Atletico just the previous year.
The idea of players crossing the city was not new, even then. Santiago Bernabeu, the legendary Los Blancos president who gave his name to the iconic stadium they play in to this day, guested with Atletico in the 1920s. Real Madrid loaned Atletico forward Ramon Grosso in 1963/64 to help fight off relegation, while Mexico’s Hugo Sánchez actually scored for both teams in LALIGA derbies during the 1980s.
Nowadays, there are many players who have ties to both sides. Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois made his LALIGA debut for Atleti back in 2011, while Diego Simeone’s current squad boasts several players with a Real Madrid past, such as Marcos Llorente, Álvaro Morata, Mario Hermoso and Saul Niguez.
That’s not to say it has always been friendly. While ElClasico with FC Barcelona is arguably LALIGA EA SPORTS’s biggest game internationally, for many at Real Madrid the derby remains the most special. “The team we wanted to beat, at all costs, was the neighbours,” Los Blancos legend and all-time great Alfredo Di Stefano recalled. “Losing meant our fans had to suffer jokes from the next day in the office, the bar and the street.”
Over the years LALIGA has provided 172 opportunities for such ribbing. Real Madrid have 91 victories, Atletico 40 wins, with 41 draws.
The late Paco Gento holds the all-time record for league appearances in the fixture with 29, while Atletico’s record appearance maker in the fixture is Adelardo Rodriguez with 27. Di Stefano and 1980s striker Santillana have the most LALIGA goals in the fixture for Real Madrid (13), while 1940s teammates Paco Campos and Adrian Escudero share the record for Atletico with nine each.
Cup competitions have recently taken the rivalry to new heights at home and abroad. Atletico beat Real Madrid in the 2013 Copa del Rey final. Real Madrid then came out on top in the 2014 and 2016 Champions League deciders, while Diego Simeone’s side beat their neighbours in the 2018 UEFA Super Cup. There was also a meeting in the 2020 Spanish Super Cup final, where Real Madrid were crowned champions after beating Atletico on penalties (4-1), while Los Blancos also eliminated Atleti 3-1 after extra time in the 2022/23 Copa del Rey quarter-finals.