Posted on March 21, 2014
Other than featuring the two best, most electric players in the world—Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi—two of the most decorated clubs not only in Spain but in soccer and, quite possibly, determining who wins the La Liga title this year, there’s no real reason to watch Sunday’s El Clásico.
Pardon our sarcasm, the contest between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Bernabeu is as must-watch as a match can possibly get, no matter your league or club affiliation. In fact, this match traditionally draws more eyes and interest every season than any other game not named the UEFA Champions League Final.
This is a battle of the titans if ever there was one, and you want to be sure to tune it to see who is toppled and who is triumphant.
Here’s what you need to know to be ready when the game kicks off at 4 p.m. ET Sunday (coverage on beIN Sports).
The reason El Clásico is so irresistible to watch is that the game pits elite players at every position against each other in end-to-end action.
Like goalkeepers? How about Spanish National Team captain Iker Casillas representing Real Madrid and silverware-winning superb shot-stopper Victor Valdes in goal for Barca?
Is it defense you want? Sergio Ramos leads the way for Los Blancos while Gerard Pique dons the Barcelona shirt. You would struggle to name a player better than those two.
Enjoy flair and style going forward? Barcelona has the otherworldly Lionel Messi and rising world star Neymar to bag the goals while Andrés Iniesta and Xavi pull the creative strings in midfield.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, boasts the lethal combo of reigning FIFA Balon d’OR winner Cristiano Ronaldo, the most expensive transfer ever in Gareth Bale and fantastic French forward Karim Benzema.
Both sides have an embarrassment of riches, blessed with backups who would star on almost any other side.
These games always come down to execution, not quality as both have that in abundance.
“We know that we are always required to bring our very best football when we play at the Bernabeu. We have to be, more than ever, Barca,” Iniesta said at a pre-match press conference.
“We just have to be brave, keep possession. If we don’t do that, we will have a bad time. It’s a ground where the biggest demands are made of players.”
Rival Gareth Bale said his teammates also are focused on producing a vintage performance.
“They have very good players, but we are focused on our game and on our team because we also have very good players.”
These two giants last took the field together to tussle Oct. 26 at the Camp Nou with the Blagrauna emerging the 2-1 victors in front of 98,000 supporters.
Making his El Clásico debut, Brazilian wonder Neymar netted 19 minutes into the match with a right-footed blast to cap off a prototypical tiki-taka attack.
Chilean teammate Alexis Sanchez put the game to bed in the 78th minute with an audacious chip from 20 yards out before Real Madrid’s Jesé grabbed a consolation goal in stoppage time.
The result put Barcelona six points clear of Real Madrid just 10 games into the season. Los Blancos haven’t lost since and come into Sunday’s showdown four points ahead of Barcelona and three ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid.
With just 10 games to play, this is a must-win match for the Blaugrana.
This is only the second El Clásico for both managers; Barcelona’s Gerardo “Tata” Martino and Real Madrid’s Carlos Ancelotti. In their first seasons in charge, both men now have a better idea of what the task requires having contested October’s match.
Italian tactician Ancelotti said he “won’t complicate things,” when picking his Starting XI, while Argentine leader Martino said he doesn’t “have any doubts about how to play at the Bernabeu.”
This match will feature some of the most exciting and innovative cleats to hit on today’s market, including only the second on-field appearance of the adidas f50 adizero Crazylight.
Gareth Bale, the face of the lightest cleat ever (just 4.7 ounces), used the shoe to set up two goals in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League contest against Schalke on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi will lace up his signature adidas f50 adizeros. After scoring a hat trick last time out in La Liga against Osasuna to set an all-time record for most goals in a Barcelona shirt, now 371, many thought Messi would wear the adizero that pays tribute to his accomplishment in this contest.
Instead, he’ll compete in the colorful cleat he inspired and which he wore to set the record, the f50 adizero TRX Messi.
Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to debut the latest Nike Mercurial Vapor IX, a tribute to the 2010 version he sported in South Africa that was released Friday.