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Real Madrid Classic: 2002 Champions League Semi-Final Vs FC Barcelona

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Do you remember what you were doing in 2002?

Yours truly was doing afternoons in Boise ID of all places. It was a interesting year for sure. Arsenal would win the double, Brazil would go on to claim its 5th World Cup. During the summer transfer window Real Madrid would sign Ronaldo from Serie A side AC Milan for a cool sum of €45 million.

The United States would invade Afghanistan, in the music world Alice In Chains front man Layne Staley would be found dead in his Seattle apartment from a heroin overdose. On the air waves it was all about Canadian rockers Nickelback (ugh..) and the pop sounds of American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson.

Real Madrid would find themselves matched up against FC Barcelona in the Champions League. The last time these two rivals met in the Champions League -- it was known as the European Cup. The Year? 1960.

Real Madrid were led by Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas and they would go on to stomp FC Barcelona like a narc at a biker rally. The final after the two legged semi-final? 6-2. Los blancos would advance to the Cup Final against German side Eintracht Frankurt, where Real Madrid would hand them 7-2 drubbing to claim their eight European Cup. It would be some time before madridistas would see another European title.

The first leg of the semi-final was at the Nou Camp, meaning Real Madrid would have to try and win on the Catalan's home turf or at the least pick up an away goal or two. This wasn't an easy task and wasn't made any easier with Real Madrid missing Luis Figo, who was unavailable due to suspension. Over on the other side of the pitch Barca would be without the services of Rivaldo who was sidelined with an injury.

Vicente del Bosque would send out a starting XI that included Zidane, Claude Makelele and of course Real Madrid's lead striker Raul. There were a couple of notables on the bench for that night as well; for Madrid it was a 20-year-old keeper Iker Casillas--on the Blaugrana bench sat his opposite number Pepe Reina. The side Barca put out wasn't something to sneeze at either. Names like Frank de Boer, Thiago Motta and Luis Enrique littered the Catalans starting XI.

As predicted by just about everyone, FC Barcelona dominated, yet hadn't been able to sneak one past the Real Madrid back line and into the net. In the 55th minute everything changed; Raul threaded a pass through to Zindane who nailed a chip over FCB's Bonano to put the blanco's up 1-0. With the all important away goal, it was best to stifle the Barcelona attack.

It wasn't until stoppage time that Real Madrid was again able to crack the Barcelona defense. A second away goal was netted by sub Steve McManaman. This goal would seal the deal for the Meringues and send the FCB fans at the Nou Camp home with their heads hanging.

Welcome To The Bernabeu
Coming into the home leg, FC Bacelona were in a bind. Already down two goals on aggregate, it was a tough road to try and pull out the win. Barca was still missing Rivaldo due to injuries but they inserted two players into the XI that are still main stays for the Catalans: Xavi and now skipper Carles Puyol. Luis Figo of Real Madrid was done serving his suspension and ready to be back on the pitch.

Two minutes before the half at the 43rd minute mark, Real Madrid would render the rest of the match a mere formality. Raul would net a brace from just outside the 18 and put Real Madrid up 3-0 on aggregate. After the half, FC Barcelona would manage to net a goal in the 49th minute, though even with that goal, they were still on the loosing end of the match which would see Raul and company advance to the Champions League final.

Similar to the 1960 final, they would go on to face a German side--this time Bayer Leverkusen. It would take place at Hampton Park in Glascow. The meringues would go on to defeat Leverkusen by a score of 2-1, though the match is mostly remembered for this goal by Zidane.

That is a goal that will be forever remembered by madridistas, plane and simple. Also of note, a young Iker Casillas would be subbed for keeper Cesar in the 68th minute. Real Madrid has yet to see another Champions League title since the 2001-2002 Champions League season.

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