FACTBOX-Soccer-Key words and phrases around Spain's 'Clasico'


Thu, 19 Apr 04:00:00 2012

Following is a selection of Spanish words and phrases which help explain the intense rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona played out in the 'Clasicos'.

The world's richest clubs by income meet at Barca's Nou Camp stadium in La Liga on Saturday in a match that could decide the destination of the title. Real have a four-point lead with five games left.

Cules and Merengues

Barca and their fans are known as "Cules" which means "arses" in Catalan.

At one of the club's first stadiums in Calle Industria, supporters used to sit on the outer wall watching matches and all that passers-by could see when they looked up from the street was a row of backsides, which prompted the nickname.

Real are known as the Merengues because their distinctive all white kit (shirts, shorts and socks) resembles the famous pudding made from egg whites and sugar.


The Madrid-based sports press have in the past accused Barca of falling victim to "Canguelo", which literally means being scared stiff that Real would chase up behind them to steal the league title.

In 2007, Fabio Capello's Madrid famously overhauled Frank Rijkaard's Barca side to snatch the title on the final day of the season, prompting accusations Barca had bottled it.

Although Madrid won the title again in 2008, they have mostly trailed Pep Guardiola's team since then, but always display an impressive "never-say-die" approach which regularly seems to unsettle their rivals.

This time, with Real leading the standings, it is the Barcelona-based papers who have adopted the word after Barca's run of 11 straight wins and Real's draws against Malaga, Villarreal and Valencia chopped six points from the Madrid club's lead advantage.

La Manita

Barca's 5-0 La Liga hammering of Real at the Nou Camp last season had home players and fans waving a hand in the air with the fingers spread in celebration of the five goals -- la manita, or "little hand".

That result, and the 6-2 thrashing Barca handed out at the Bernabeu in 2009, are two of the most humiliating reverses suffered by Real in recent times.

In the mid 1990s Dutch coach Johan Cruyff led Barca to a crushing 5-0 league drubbing of Madrid at the Nou Camp, when Brazil striker Romario netted a hat-trick.

Catalan joy was relatively shortlived, however, as Real beat them 5-0 at the Bernabeu the following season thanks to an Ivan Zamorano treble.

Saturday's result will be important in helping determine the head-to-head score between the teams should they finish level on points at the end of the season -- a positive one for Real secured them the 2007 league title under Capello.


Conspiracy theories have flourished over the years about biased refereeing favouring either team.

Allegations of favouritism shown towards Real by referees during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco have given way recently to Barca being accused of having a helping hand.

The theory that Barca backed the re-election of Angel Maria Villar to the presidency of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF), while Real supported a rival candidate, has given rise to the term "Villarato" which is used every time Madrid fans think Barca have had some kind of favourable treatment.

Real boss Jose Mourinho has played up this debate, citing the red cards given against his own side and the punishments handed out to himself and his team.

It landed him in hot water with UEFA for a rant against referees and the authorities after their Champions League semi-final first leg defeat last season.

El dedo de 'Mou'

At the end of the Spanish Super Cup in August, with Barca winning 3-2 at the Nou Camp, a reckless challenge by Real defender Marcelo on Barca's Cesc Fabregas sparked a mass brawl on the touchline.

In the middle of the melee, Mourinho snuck up behind Guardiola's assistant coach Tito Vilanova and gouged a finger in his eye. Vilanova responded by cuffing Mourinho round the back of the head. The referee did not see "el dedo de Mou" (the finger of Mourinho), which was caught on television.

After almost two months of deliberations, the RFEF handed Mourinho a two-match ban to be served only in the event of the Portuguese appearing in another Super Cup, the annual meeting between the league winners and the King's Cup holders. Vilanova received a one-match ban.

Barca players accused Mourinho of wrecking Spanish football while Mourinho later offered an apology only to Madrid fans.

Real president Florentino Perez backed Mourinho, while Barca's former coach Johan Cruyff called it "an act of arrogance and impotence".

Mes que un club

Barcelona's slogan "more than a club" helps explain why the 'Clasico' is more than just a football match.

Barca is seen as a symbol of Catalan nationalism and of the region's struggle for recognition against the perceived centralising force of the Spanish government in Madrid, embodied in Real.

Barca fans wave the yellow and red-striped Catalan flags and hold up banners at the Nou Camp proclaiming in English that "Catalonia is not Spain". Many whistled through the national anthem at the Mestalla before last year's King's Cup final.

Madrid fans respond by waving Spain flags and singing 'Viva Espana' (Long Live Spain). Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa's 'Viva Espana!' message on his Twitter feed just after their Cup final triumph was widely debated by fans afterwards.


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