El Clasico in Spanish football history marks the fierce rivalry between the two best football playing teams in the world- Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Their rivalry is one that has always been packed with emotion over the years, with scintillating and breathtaking football performance. The first leg of this year’s El Clasico at the Nou Camp promises another realm of fire and here’s why.
First in 11 years without Ronaldo, Messi
In 2007, the El Clasico had a fresh excitement for fans and football lovers when both teams had the two best players- Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in their ranks.
Since then, the El Clasico rivalry got more intense due to the consistency of both players who retained their status as unarguably the best players in the world. Sunday’s fixture will be different as both players will miss the game because Ronaldo has swapped Los Blancos for Juventus in the Italian Seria A, while Messi is out of the game due to injury.
Dembele, Asensio, Mariano, Coutinho have chance to impress
With the injured Lionel Messi on the sidelines, Barca’s expensively-assembled squad needs to prove that it is more than a one-man team. Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele were brought in for a cost of $250 million to impact matches just like Sunday’s. A defeat could see Barca’s expensive project derailed, especially with their talisman unavailable.
Also, Madrid’s new number 7 and Ronaldo’s ‘successor’, Mariano Diaz, will have to prove himself as a potential go-to guy for the team. Marco Asensio on the other hand has been struggling to replicate the pivotal role he played in the team’s previous success under Zidane. But an impressive performance from him will restore his fading trust with the fans.
Julen Lopetegui is under intense pressure
Real Madrid’s coach Julen Lopetegui has been under fire, with his future with the Spanish giants hanging in the balance.
His poor start to the season which had been accompanied with unrest from fans, who in the last three seasons won three Champions League and La Liga trophies under former coach and former galactico Zinedine Zidane.
A win will ease the pressure off the manager’s back and the fans will have the first bragging rights at their oppositions. A win will move Madrid closer to Barcelona on the log with just a point between them. But, a defeat means Lopetegui could be looking for a new job come Monday.