The run of Barça-Madrid games coming up, is not the 1st time the two have met 4 times in quick succession, but we have to go back 95 years, to the 1915/16 season and the Spanish Championship when the 2 met in the semi to find a similar series of game
The games in 1916 finished controversially with some hotly argued over refereeing that laid down
the foundations for the fierce rivalry between the teams since then.
All conquering Barça
Barça had won the right to participate in the Spanish Championship by means of
their taking the Catalan Championship, winning every game in a competition they dominated from
start to finish. The regular starting line up included keeper Lluís Bru, midfielder Ramon Torralba
and the strikers Vicenç Martínez (32 goals in 29 games in the 1915/16 season) and Paulino Alcántara
(33 goals en 24 matches).
The Madrid side had won the Central Championship and the most famous name in their team was
the striker Santiago Bernabéu, who went on to be President at the club between 1943 and his death
Barça and Madrid FC went straight into the semi finals and the first leg
was played on March 26th 1916 at the ground in Carrer Muntaner, which was actually Espanyol’s
ground. Barça won 2-1 (with goals from Alcántara and Martínez) in a game which saw some rough play
that resulted in Barça’s Baonza getting injured, though he stayed on, as there were no subs
allowed in those days.
In the return game on April 2nd (at the O’Donnell ground of Atletico Madrid), Barça
faced a hostile crowd and were forced to start the game with just 9 men, as the train carrying
Santiago Massana and Vinyals was held up. Eventually, Costa came on after 15 minutes and Fransesc
Bru made it 11 players when he was brought on on the half hour. Madrid were in control though, and
although Martinez opened the scoring for Barça, 3 goals from Bernabeu and a fourth from Jean Petit
gave Madrid a 4-1 win. Since goal difference was not considered at that time, the result meant that
a third play off game was required to settle the matter.
Barça 6 - Madrid 6
The third game was also held on April 13th at the O’Donnell pitch and was
refereed by ex-Madrid player and club member José Ángel Berraondo. This was an epic game, with both
teams alternating the lead. It was 2-2 at half time, 4-4 after 90 minutes and ended 6-6 after extra
time. Barça’s goals came from Alcántara (3), Mallorquí, Bau and Martínez. Madrid had three
penalties, but Bernabeu could only score one, with Bru saving one of the others with his head! The
Barça players complained bitterly about one of the Madrid goals which came after the Madrid striker
Belaunde had fouled Bru, but the result stood and a fourth game was now arranged.
Barça walk off before final whistle
On 15th April, again at the O’Donnel pitch, the fourth and decisive game was
held, with Berraondo, who this time was to play an unfortunate, but vital role, again in charge.
Barça went ahead through Martinez, only for Bernabeu, in a clearly offside position, to draw Madrid
level. Martinez got his second before the break to again put Barça ahead and soon after, Alcántara
had a goal disallowed for offside. On 85 minutes, Madrid drew level once more, then Vinyals saw an
effort hit the post. Finally, with hardly any time left on the clock the ref gave a penalty to
Madrid for a very dubious handball against Reguera, but Bru was again the team’s saviour,
saving his third from five penalties over the four games.
Unfortunately, extra time proved decisive as Sotero Aranguren made it 3-2 from a massively
offside position and then got the fourth whilst a Madrid player held keeper Bru back. This proved
too much for the Barça team and on 108 minutes, their captain Santiago Massana led them from the
field, unwilling to play any further under such a biased referee. The Madrid crowd, curiously
enough, seemed to understand the gesture and the reasons for the team refusing to finish the game.
The following day, the players were greeted by a large crowd at the Passeig de Gracia station, who
considered them the clear moral victors.
In the resulting final, played at the Muntaner ground on May 7th 1916 Madrid met Athletic
Bilbao and with a crowd clearly behind the Basques, Madrid went down 4-0.