By: Kofi Owusu Aduonum
There might be some debate as to which is the best league in the world, but it’s impossible to dispute this as the planet’s most attractive club fixture.
Barcelona and Real Madrid represent everything that is both good and bad about Spanish football and while we spend most weeks bemoaning the lack of competitive balance in La Liga, the Clásico is truly an occasion to sit back and savour like no other.
Besides the obvious cultural and historical factors behind the rivalry, the fixture now has all the elements to rival any season-defining spectacle such as the Champions League final… in fact, you could say the only thing bigger than Barcelona v Real Madrid would be a Champions League final contested by Barcelona and Real Madrid.
And what sets it apart from any other match in this day and age is the sheer quality on the pitch combined with the collective trust and belief those players share in the methods and strategy of two of the world’s greatest managers.
If only to labour the point, consider that ten of the 11 players who started for Spain in last summer’s World Cup final will be on display again here (seven for Barca, three for Madrid), not to mention the world’s greatest individual talent in Lionel Messi and the pretender to his crown, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Throw in Dani Alves, arguably the most devastating full-back of all-time, and you have in the confined space of 105m x 68m, ten of the 23 players shortlisted for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or.