It’s the weekend again and this time we’ve got one of the greatest clashes in the football world to look forward to. So, this Saturday, DON’T MISS Real Madrid v Barcelona!
They call it “El Clasico“, which simply means “The Classic”. And it really is a classic encounter, as old as Spanish football itself. Real Madrid and Barcelona have met on the field every year since the league’s inception, in 1929, being two out of only three teams never to have been relegated from the top tier. More or less the entire population of Spain supports one or the other, with only about 20% being fans of Atletico Madrid, Valencia, and the rest. The huge rivalry has a heavy political background, with Real Madrid traditionally backed by the ruling regime (be it the infamous dictator Francisco Franco, or the Royal Family), and Barcelona representing the rebellious province of Catalonia. In the 80’s there was also a violent side to the rivalry, as opposing hooligan factions clashed. The two sides met no less than 229 times, competitively, with Real Madrid leading in number of victories – 92 to Barcelona‘s 89.
In modern times, the rivalry has been accentuated by the rising strength of both clubs, leading to meetings between the two in Champions League fixtures. Most recently, Barcelona knocked Real Madrid out of the competition at the semifinals stage, in 2011, going on to win their 4th title. More so, between December 2008 and December 2011, Real Madrid couldn’t manage a single league win against their rivals, despite facing them seven times. Barcelona prevailed in no less than six of those encounters, including a famous 5-0 drubbing in 2010 – something which was thought inconceivable, due to the closely matched, high-caliber players on both teams.
In recent years, Real Madrid v Barcelona has also meant Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi. Undisputedly the two best players of our times and two of the best of all times, their role in their teams’ respective success is pivotal. Their market value is around $130 million each, but neither of them could ever be bought for so little. Ronaldo has an insane release clause of $1.51 billion in his contract and his agent stated that, should they wish to part with their superstar, Real could easily get $450 million for him. Surprisingly, Messi‘s release clause is only $270 million, but even so, there’s not much danger of the Argentine forward being scooped up from the club he loves. He’s been at Barcelona since he was 13. In 2012, an unnamed Russian club triggered the release clause, only for Messi to turn down their $700.000 per week salary offer. How’s that for commitment? Messi is also the all-time top scorer in El Clasico games, with 21 goals. No other player than Ronaldo or Messi has won the World Player of the Year award – the Ballon d’Or – in the past seven years.
This season, Barcelona are the team to beat in Primera Division. They won 9 out of 11 games so far and are sitting at the top of the table, three points ahead of Real. In the previous round, their Madrid rivals were defeated for the first time this season, with Sevilla FC exposing some serious weaknesses in the Galacticos’ defence. Lionel Messi will certainly know how to exploit those.