This Saturday at noon, the first El Clasico of the year takes place at the Bernabeu. The two big teams in La Liga face off in the first of two minimum matches. These games have typically been classic games filled with high scoring and hopefully we don’t see anything different this weekend. Here’s what you need to know before the game.
1) Why is this such a big game?
The first reason is that it was and still is a very political game. Real Madrid is often seen as the team for the Spanish nationalists, beginning with the regime of General Francisco Franco. Now with Spain no longer run under a dictatorship, Real Madrid is still seen as the team for the nationalists. Barcelona became the team for the Catalans as the Catalan region wanted independence from Spain. By rooting for Barcelona, it was viewed by the Catalans as a safer means of protest to Franco’s regime. To this day, Catalans still would like to seek independence from Spain and form their own independent nation around Barcelona as they see themselves as Catalan instead of Spanish.
The other reason is that this is a big game is that these two teams are the most successful teams in Spanish soccer. Combined, the two teams have 54 top division championships, 45 Copa del Rey’s and 14 European Cup/Champions League titles. They usually have the best players in the world and the most money in La Liga due to the unique TV deals that result in more money being given to Barcelona and Real Madrid over the other teams.
2) This is the 228th official El Clasico
Real Madrid leads the series at 91 wins to Barcelona’s 88 wins. There have been 48 draws.
3) This game is more than Messi vs. Ronaldo
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two big names in this game but both teams are stacked with talent. Real Madrid has got guys like Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale while Barcelona has Pique, Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Marc-Andre ter Stegen. All but Bale, who is injured, are likely to have a say in the outcome on the game. And speaking of world class players likely to have an outcome on the game…
4) Luis Suarez is BACK!
Yes, the man is back. He’s not in Liverpool red but after a four month suspension, he is back in Barcelona blue. Since this is his first game, no one really knows how he’s going to adjust to the team. We gave it our best shot but we’re just going to have to wait and see how it goes.
5) Who’s the favorite?
I never like to be non committal but this really is a pick ’em game that can go either way. Barcelona has the best team on paper by being in 1st place in La Liga and after 8 games, has a 22-0 goal tally. Having said that, Real Madrid is the home team and it’s tough to beat Real at home. They have also scored 30 goals so far and are only four points behind. Either way, this is a can’t miss game that looks to go down to the bitter end.