The first El Clasico of the 2023/24 season is coming to a theater near you this Saturday. Of the 254 matches played between these two La Liga heavyweights, you might wonder which players have made the most appearances. Let's take a look.
10. Raul — 37 appearances
Raul is the youngest scorer in El Clasico history, notching his first strike in the big rivalry game on September 30, 1996, at 18 years old. He became one of Real Madrid's best-ever attackers, scoring a top 323 goals.
10. Fernando Hierro — 37 appearances
Fernando Hierro always brought the highest intensity level to the El Clasico. The Real Madrid center-back spent 14 seasons (439 matches) with Los Blancos, helping them achieve five La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies. The defender could also score goals, as he hit the net 127 times in white.
9. Andres Iniesta — 38 appearances
Andres Iniesta made 38 appearances in one of the most heated rivalry matches in sports. One of Iniesta's most unforgettable performances came in Barcelona's 6-2 thrashing of Real Madrid on May 2, 2009, effectively sealing La Liga for the Catalans during Pep Guardiola's inaugural season.
8. Gerard Pique — 40 appearances
It's no surprise to see Gerard Pique on the list. The Spaniard defender played 15 seasons, a remarkable 666 games for the Blaugrana, before hanging his boots up in November 2022. He earned three Champions League and three La Liga titles with the club.
7. Xavi — 42 appearances
Iniesta's partner in crime, Xavi, enjoyed 42 matches against Real Madrid. The midfield maestro spearheaded tika taka for Guardiola's side, winning the 2008-9 season treble. Xavi is Barcelona's most-capped player ever, showing up to make 767 appearances.
6. Francisco Gento — 42 appearances
Real Madrid club legend Francisco Gento played against the Blaugrana with Real Madrid 42 times. Dubbed the “Cantabrian Storm” by Real Madrid supporters, Francisco Gento scored 178 goals across more than 600 matches. He clinched 12 La Liga championships, six European Cups, and a pair of Copa del Rey titles.
5. Manuel Sanchis — 42 appearances
Former Real Madrid captain Manuel Sanchis appeared in 42 El Clasico matches. The industrious Sweeper played a remarkable 22 seasons with Los Blancos, earning six La Liga titles, two Champions League, and two UEFA Cups.
4. Karim Benzema — 44 appearances
2022 Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema played a remarkable 44 games against Barcelona during his Los Blancos career. The crafty forward scored 324 goals in white, making him the club's second all-time scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
3. Lionel Messi — 45 appearances
Lionel Messi made 45 appearances against arch-rival Real Madrid. He scored his first ever hat-trick for Barcelona in El Clasico at age 19. Not surprisingly, Messi is the rivalry's greatest goal scorer with 26 goals, ahead of Alfredo Di Stefano and Ronaldo, each with 18.
2. Sergio Ramos — 45 appearances
Where there's Messi, there's also Ramos. The two battled it out each El Clasico, earning 45 caps in the world's biggest rivalry. Madrid's legendary defender played in 32 consecutive Clasicos before leaving the club for PSG in the summer of 2021.
1. Sergio Busquets — 48 appearances
In March 2023, Sergio Busquets surpassed Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos to become the player with the most El Clásico appearances. He finished his career with a total of 48 and notched the most wins in the clash's history with 22, surpassing Paco Gento's 21.