Football FanCast columnist Derek Gaffney looks ahead to El Clasico.
This Sunday see’s the 155th meeting between Barcelona and Real Madrid in the fixture simply known in Spanish as El Clasico (The Classic).
This is seen as arguably the biggest game in European club football as two of the games power houses do battle.
At 6pm GMT this Sunday at the Camp Nou, Barcelona, the two teams will take the field to continue a grudge match which began in 1929, incidentally the game was won by Real Madrid, 2-1.
This is more than a clash of two footballing giants, it is a clash of cities, cultures and almost two differing countries. Madrid is the Spanish capital city and houses the Spanish Royal family whereas Barcelona is deemed the more cultural and fashionable city of the two.
Barcelona also has its own identity as the capital city of Catalonia (one of 17 communities in Spain) and is also governed partly by its own law, politics and security alongside Spanish constitution.
Hence it can be perfectly described as:
“Two languages, two peoples… two countries?”
As written by Andy Mitten, the author of Mad For It: From Blackpool to Barcelona, Football’s Greatest Rivalries. This sums up the differing cultures perfectly.
This rivalry has developed over the years but back in the era of gentleman playing the beautiful game the clubs rivalry was set in stone for eternity.
The great Alfredo Di Stefano in 1953 was at the centre of a tug of war between the two clubs with both alleged to have signed the then Argentine. This dispute took the intervention of one Francisco Franco (then Spanish Head of State) to solve the dispute.
Franco’s authoritarian dictatorship sided with Real Madrid and Di Stefan went on to become one of the all-time greats of the game. Many believe this alleged intervention from Franco simply added fuel to the burning fire between the two clubs and the rest they say is history.
Over recent times both clubs have attracted many star name players and with this many trophy successes have been enjoyed by the two clubs.
But last season saw the two clubs drift into differing circles, Madrid changed their manager twice and struggled to challenge in any of the competitions they entered. Compared to Barcelona who simply brushed aside all that came before them.
Barcelona became the first Spanish club to win the treble (League title, Spanish Cup and Champions League) as well as winning the Spanish Super Cup and the European Super Cup.
Under the stewardship of Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola they are a club transformed and the mid-week victory over Inter Milan puts Champions League qualification in their own hands. Real Madrid are top of the La Liga table as I write, leading Barcelona by one point.
But all is not well at the club, excessive spending in the summer coupled with inconsistent performances and an over reliance already on the form and goals from Cristiano Ronaldo have led to the Bernabeu faithful becoming restless.
How will they fare this weekend?
The betting shows Barcelona having the home advantage will pay at 10/11 whilst both the draw and a Real Madrid away win come in at approximately 3/1. Having a soft spot for Barcelona, i’m tipping a 2-1 home win, which is priced at 13/2.
Many aspects of the game will be fascinating to watch but the possible match-up between Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be a fantastic encounter, should they both be fit enough to play the game due to recent injuries.
Messi won the battle in last seasons Champions League final and in my opinion is the best player in the world at the moment. Hopefully he will show this on Sunday.
Finally for the statto’s amongst you the head to head between the two teams reads as; Real Madrid 68 wins, Barcelona 60 wins and 30 draws so far.
If you have a moment, why not have a look at the highlights video (below) of the last meeting between the two sides back in May of this year. In this fixture Barcelona thumped Real Madrid 6-2. That should whet your appetite for this coming fixture.
Read more of Derek Gaffney’s articles at his Blog