El Clasico – The greatest football match in the world
Real Madrid take on Barcelona in one of football’s biggest matches tonight. We look at what makes this match special.
El Clasico. No two words in football can get the world’s attention quite like the match between Real Madrid and Barcelona, two of the world’s biggest clubs. Football websites start the build up to the game a month prior; TV channels have a countdown clock during other league matches. What makes it so special you ask?.
The most recent Barcelona-Real Madrid clash, in April 2016, aired in more than 90 countries around the world. More than 400 million viewers tuned in to watch the last match in 2016. Real Madrid and Barcelona are among the top three most valuable sports teams in the world, worth $3.65 billion and $3.55 billion, respectively. The two teams have a combined roster of players alone worth over one billion dollars. Moreover, there is the small matter of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo facing off.
These two players will go down as possibly the greatest players the game has ever seen. Every time they step onto a pitch, a record is broken. They have won the last seven Ballon D’Ors between them. I can’t even keep up with how many goals they’ve scored. There’s nothing better for a football fan to see than the world’s best players go head-to-head and battle it out for bragging rights.
Let’s now move on to the ‘supporting cast’. On Madrid’s side, there’s Isco, fondly called Isco Disco for the way he waltzes around opposition players with the ball. They also have the Welsh Wizard Gareth Bale, who’s a terrifying combination of strength and lightning-pace. In midfield there’s Luka Modric, whose raking outside of the boot pass is akin to listening to Chopin’s Spring Waltz in a lush meadow with Scarlett Johansson for company. German Toni Kroos probably never missed a pass in his life. Defender Sergio Ramos scores goals that can give you cardiac arrests.
For Barcelona, there’s the most lethal front three attacking trident ever seen in football comprising of Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar, although Neymar is suspended for this game. Suarez can score goals out of nothing and can nutmeg an entire defence. Just ask PSG. In midfield, there’s Iniesta, who gets a standing ovation in every stadium he plays. The mind reading Sergio Busquets, who knows where the ball is going to be on the pitch, 5 passes before anyone else. In addition, of course Gerard Pique, a defender who will do everything in his power to make sure Madrid loses.
The thing about the Clasico is that there’s so much more than just the three points at stake. There are so many plots and subplots. If Madrid wins then La Liga is almost guaranteed. If Barcelona wins, the title fight is truly on and it can derail Madrid’s season. Barcelona are out of the Champions League after a humbling loss to Juventus and need to restore their pride. Neymar is suspended and whoever replaces him will have big boots to fill. Madrid are without their first choice centre back pairing, and Bale is doubtful with an injury and starting him would be a huge risk.
When these two teams go head to head you can be assured of drama, goals, anguish, absolute delight and sometimes, even a pigs head. Classicos are etched in history as events where legends are forged and careers destroyed in this one epic match. It’s El Clasico tonight, and in the end, as always, football wins.