The latest edition of El Clasico gets underway on Sunday 28th October at 11:15AM ET / 8:15AM PT and here are three reasons why Barcelona against Real Madrid remains the biggest club soccer clash in the world that simply can’t be missed
1) Julen Lopetegui’s job is on the line
With Real Madrid club president, Florentino Perez, loving nothing more than firing a hapless coach – four of the last five have been sacked – even a win against Barcelona may not be enough to save Julen Lopetegui’s managerial skin at Real Madrid. One point from the last 12 available in La Liga and form in the Champions League that makes the team look like a side from San Marino rather than Spain has left Lopetegui with zero credit in the bank. In fact, it’s an overdraft.
To be fair, there wasn’t too much credit for Lopetegui at Real Madrid in the first place. It was common knowledge that the Spaniard’s name was waaaaaaay down the hit-list of coaches to replace Zinedine Zidane. Much of the fanbase were against Lopetegui’s arrival from the off due to his ruining of Spain’s World Cup by accepting the Real Madrid gig just days before the start of Russia 2018, where he was supposedly leading the country’s national team. Until he was abruptly fired.
A win in the Camp Nou against Barcelona and Lopetegui may have a tiny chance of saving his job, as the players genuinely seem to be supporting their coach. Not that you’d have thought it by the way the footballers have been performing of late. A defeat, and it’s job search time on Monday.
2) Can Barcelona live without Leo Messi?
Rather than being out on the pitch for Barcelona’s Champions League game against Inter Milan on Wednesday, Lionel Messi was sat in the Camp Nou stands with his fractured right arm all wrapped up. But instead of having a headless chicken quality, which is what routinely hits Barcelona when Messi is absent, a professional performance saw Barca beat the Italians by the comfy margin of 2-0.
However, that will be swiftly forgotten if Barcelona fails to bring the magic against a very wounded Real Madrid on Sunday. Barcelona has failed to beat Real Madrid in the four previous meetings in El Clasico in La Liga at the Camp Nou and it is amazing how quickly Real Madrid’s confidence will be rebuilt with a scoring start on Sunday.
A huge amount of money – upwards of $300 million over the past two summers alone – has been spent by Barcelona’s bosses to ensure that victories against Real Madrid are delivered, with or without Leo Messi. Sunday sees that ambition put to the test with the Barcelona players having to screw their collective courage to football’s sticking place.
3) The best players on the planet on the same pitch at the same time
Pretty much every player out on the Camp Nou pitch on Sunday is an uber-performing winning machine. Seven have won the World Cup and pretty much everyone else has picked up a Champions League title or two – or three or four – along the way. From seasoned veterans like Gerard Pique, Sergi Busquets, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema. To current world beaters such as Gareth Bale, Raphael Varane, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho and to a whole host of footballers who will be winning the big trophies in the future – Marco Asensio, Ousmane Dembele, Arthur – every footballer in El Clasico is at the top of his game. Which is just another reason why El Clasico remains the greatest club game in world football…and also will be.
Amongst all the drama over Real Madrid’s manager and Leo Messi, it is key to remember something very important about El Clasico. It’s stacked, lit, and bursting when talking about footballers.