The rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is well-documented. Real fans will boo you if you went to Barcelona on holiday as a child, let alone if you actually play for La Blaugrana.
So why, on 19 November 2005, did Ronaldinho receive a standing ovation from the Santiago Bernabéu after scoring against Real in Barcelona’s 3-0 win?
Easy. That’s because they had just witnessed something truly spectacular.
At the time, Barcelona sat second in La Liga, just one point ahead of Real. After an inconsistent start to the season which had seen them drop as low as 11th, Ronaldinho had found his best form once more and fired them back up the table.
Throughout the first half, the Ballon d’Or winner was his typically dangerous self. When in possession, Real could get nowhere near him as he weaved and bobbed his way into the box with terrifying ease.
A ludicrous no-look pass should have led to a goal from Samuel Eto’o, but the Cameroonian did open the scoring soon after. Eto’o ran to the Real director’s box to point at the badge on his shirt, reminding his former side where his loyalties lay these days.
🇨🇲 A 5aside team of the best players that Samuel Eto’o has played with . . .
Probably the best 5 aside team in the world! 😍 pic.twitter.com/JBDSzdZjdh
— 90min (@90min_Football) July 13, 2018
Real fans were riled up. They were furious at everything to do with Barcelona.
Around the hour mark, the Brazilian picked the ball up on the halfway line. He embarked on a trademark run forwards, skipping past Sergio Ramos like he wasn’t even there. Finding a gap between two defenders in the box, Ronaldinho left Iván Helguera for dead and wrong-footed Iker Casillas to fire home.
This was Ronaldinho’s world. Everyone else was simply living in it.
The moment of the match came 17 minutes later, and it was always a carbon copy of Ronaldinho’s first effort.
Ramos was powerless to stop the Brazilian maestro once more as he breezed into the box, before slotting underneath Casillas to make it 3-0. Everything which we have been told is difficult to do, Ronaldinho was doing without even breaking a sweat.
Real’s defence didn’t often get torn apart, so fans knew they were watching something special. As a mark of their respect, thousands stood up to give Ronaldinho the round of applause which he deserved, in what was one of the most powerful moments in football history.
Two weeks later, Ronaldinho was awarded the Ballon d’Or, and few had any complaints with that decision.
His brilliance helped steer Barcelona to La Liga and Champions League glory that year, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!