Spain's Most Heated Rivalry Kicks Off On Saturday
Barcelona play hosts to their heated rivals Real Madrid this Saturday at the Camp Nou in a match rich in political, social and, quite possibly, football related history. As it stands, Barcelona are in second place with 81 points and Real Madrid are top with 85. The remainder of the teams that make up La Liga have been left in the dust for the Barcelona Real Madrid show (Valencia, the next closest team sitting in third place has only 52 points). This match will likely be the title decider. If Barcelona win, the pressure will be on for Real Madrid to not drop any more points from their remaining fixtures. If the side from the capital city are the ones to take all three points, the title will be theirs to lose. If the match ends in a draw, the title will still be more in favor of Jose Mourinho’s side than Pep Guardiola’s Catalan men.
A Brief History:
During the Spanish Civil War, the Spanish government, located in Madrid, oppressed the Catalan people to a degree unimaginable to people in today’s world. They were not allowed to speak their native tongue, practice their own government or organize open revolts against the regime building in Spain’s capitol city. Amidst the chaos of civil war, a social revolution and the violent differences in political opinion, one thing remained the same: their football. In fact, their football became their only voice when it became clear to the Catalan people that Real Madrid was the “government’s team”. Under the rule of Dictator Francisco Franco, the Barcelona Real Madrid games soon became miniature revolutions each time the two teams played each other. Today, that passion can still be seen both on and off of the pitch as players, managers and most of all the fans recognize the heated history that lies behind El Clasico.
In the 163 El Clasico matches that have been played out, Barcelona have been the victors 64 times, Real Madrid 68 and the two have held each other to a draw 31 times. A total of 519 goals have been scored in the high number of fixtures.
Ones to Watch:
La Liga is home to the number one and number two best players in the world. Lionel Messi thrives on the El Clasico stage with his Velcro feet and flicks and feints while Cristiano Ronaldo impresses with his powerful shots, free kicks and blazing runs down the wing. The pressure is always on for the two to perform, but they rarely let the crowd down. Messi appeared to pull up lame just before halftime for Barcelona in their UEFA Champions League fixture against Chelsea in London on Wednesday but there is no talk of him being absent for the fixture at the Camp Nou after he played out the remainder of the match. Both Ronaldo and Messi are vying for the Golden Boot title and at the moment the Argentine attacker is ahead of the Portuguese winger.
Both sides will be fighting for a good result after shocking defeats on the European Stage on Tuesday and Wednesday. Real Madrid were walked on by a dominant and powerful Bayern Munich in Germany and Barcelona were unable to get their passing style to penetrate the Chelsea defense at Stamford Bridge. Real Madrid have an away goal from their 2-1 scoreline in Munich but Barcelona will have their work cut out for them both scoring goals and keeping them out of the back of their own net when they host the Londoners in Southern Spain.