With the world famous ‘El Clásico’ fast approaching, who has the edge in one of football’s greatest clashes?
On one side, you have Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema or ‘BBC’ as named by the Madrid faithful. A team low on confidence, even in crisis as some suggest. After narrowly edging out underdogs Schalke in the Champions League – a fixture where Los Blancos would be expected to dominate – boos and hisses were heard, and white napkins waved by the angered Bernabeu crowd.
Real Madrid have struggled in the league recently, most notably Gareth Bale who in his last 6 games had scored no goals, made no assists and had had only made a miserly 9 chances, before returning scoring a brace against Levante on Sunday night.
The mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t been at his best either, but can still boast 9 goals and 3 assists in all competitions.
600 kilometers east in Barcelona, the story is very different for the Catalans.
Whilst ‘BBC’ have a combined total of 20 goals and 7 assists in 2015, Lionel Messi alone has 20 goals and 11 assists, Neymar has 12 goals and an assist and Luis Suárez has an impressive 10 goals and 7 assists.
They’ve also won the last five games since being defeated by Malaga, including an impressive away victory at the Etihad, the home of England’s champions.
If El Clásico simply consisted of the battle of the best front trio, its safe to say that, on current form, Barcelona would wipe the Camp Nou floor with the Galacticos.
However, it is of course not as simple as that, Real now have the imperious Sergio Ramos back, who’s importance to this Madrid side cannot be underestimated – given the lack of leadership they have shown at the back – and he will be a massive boost to the away side.
The instrumental Luka Modrić also returns to Real Madrid after injury, and given the raucous cheer he received after coming on against Schalke (amidst all the booing and hissing), you can tell how much he means to the supporters and the team.
If Modrić is allowed to dictate the flow of the game, as he does so well, it will be very hard for Barcelona to dictate the tempo which they need in order to really provide good supply for their magnificent front trio.
Isco and Kroos will also be essential in that midfield duel, Isco providing his incredible energy and dribbling ability, Kroos with his excellent sense of positioning and technical ability.
This is all providing that James Rodríguez hasn’t yet returned from his injury, his creative ability and dynamism which he demonstrated so well during the World Cup sorely missed by Real Madrid as of late.
Although, not getting any younger, any midfield will have to be at their absolute best to better the trio of Iniesta, Busquets and Xavi. Xavi and Iniesta’s ability to seek out that defence-splitting pass is still as sharp as ever, and Kroos or Khedira will struggle in cutting all passing routes which the dynamic Spanish duo will try to find.
The anchoring Busquets – who often doesn’t receive the credit he’s due – will shield the sometimes shaky Barca defence and will try to keep Isco quiet.
To write off Real Madrid from this derby would be short-sighted, given the quality their team possesses. Form can often mean nothing when it comes to such games, fans generate a different atmosphere, and performance levels and hunger for the game are raised, especially for the best players.
Regardless of current form, regardless of the question of who’s the better player out of Messi or Ronaldo, the world is promised another great game, inevitably littered with cards on both sides, contentious refereeing decisions, plenty of goals and that bit of magic that always shows in this famous derby – Vamos!