ALTHOUGH the city of Madrid currently boasts several LaLiga teams, Real Madrid vs Atlético de Madrid is the big one for many natives of the city, known as madrileños.
After Real Madrid were officially established in 1902, and then Atlético 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 2nd December 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 24th February 1929 at Real’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 Atlético just the previous year.
The idea of players crossing the city was not new, even then. Santiago Bernabéu, the legendary Blancos president who gave his name to the iconic stadium they play into this day, guested with Atlético in the 1920s. Real Madrid loaned Atlético 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; Simeone’s side bought Marcos Llorente from their cross-town rivals in the summer 2019, while fellow summer signing Mario Hermoso came through the ranks at the Bernabéu.
That’s not to say it has always been friendly. While ElClasico with FC Barcelona is arguably LaLiga Santander’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,” Blancos legend and all-time great Alfredo Di Stéfano 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 170 opportunities for such ribbing. Real Madrid have 90 victories, Atlético 40 wins, with 40 draws.
Former Real Madrid winger and the club’s current honorary president Paco Gento holds the all-time record for appearances in the fixture with 29, while Atlético’s record appearance maker in the fixture is Adelardo Rodriguez with 27. Of current players, Blancos captain Karim Benzema (24) and Atlético midfielder Koke (19) top the lists. Di Stefano and 1980s striker Santillana have the most LaLiga goals in the fixture for Real (13), while 1940s teammates Paco Campos and Adrian Escudero share the record for Atlético with nine each.
Cup competitions have recently taken the rivalry to new heights at home and abroad. Atlético 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. Furthermore, the last Madrid Derby between them apart from LaLiga Santander took place in January 2020 for the Spanish Super Cup final, where Real Madrid were crowned champions after beating Atlético on penalties (4-1).