This is the big one. El Clasico: Barcelona vs Real Madrid.
The most eagerly anticipated match in world soccer is set for Round 1 on October 26 at Barcelona’s Camp Nou.
Barcelona vs. Real Madrid Rivalry Continues – El Clasico, October 26, 2013
The two best players in the world, Lionel Messi and Cristiano will lock horns once again, but some new blood will get their first taste of the epic rivalry. New managers Gerardo Martino and Carlo Ancelotti, as well as marquee signings Neymar and Gareth Bale, will all make their debuts in this grand stage.
Martino has made the best possible start to his Barcelona tenure. Through his first 12 matches in all competitions, the defending champions are undefeated with 10 wins and only two draws (to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup).
The new boss is also already breaking records within his first months in charge. Martino has won his first eight matches in La Liga, a feat that neither Johan Cruyff, Pep Guardiola nor any other Barca manager has accomplished in its history. They’re currently tied for first with Atletico at 24 points.
[sc:Soccer240banner ]The incomparable Lionel Messi should once again be the main man for Barca. The Argentine has already scored eight goals in six league games and 11 in all competitions. Hampered by injuries at the back end of last season, he has already missed the past couple of games due to a thigh problem but he should make his return before the Clasico.
Last summer’s much hyped transfer buy Neymar is also slowly but surely finding his feet in the Spanish side. The Brazilian phenom has scored three goals in eight games in all competitions this season.
The champions will have the added advantage of a partisan crowd at the Camp Nou. Barca is 3-1-1 in the last five Clasicos at home.
Even with a very busy and expensive summer shopping spree, Real Madrid is already looking up not only at Barcelona but also city rivals Atletico after just eight rounds. Both are undefeated while Real is five points adrift after suffering defeat to Atletico in the Madrid Derby last month.
Ancelotti is still in the process of fine-tuning his Madrid team and he has already made the controversial decision to start Diego Lopez over Madrid icon Iker Casillas in goal. But his main task, especially with the Clasico upcoming, is to fix a Madrid defense that has looked far from convincing without midfielder Xabi Alonso.
The midfield maestro Alonso has been missing all season, and a recent setback will now definitely rule him out for the Clasico. The world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale has also appeared in just two games all season due to niggling injuries but could still feature against Barca.[sc:Soccer240banner ]
However, Cristiano Ronaldo has once again begun the season right on par with Messi. The Portuguese forward has scored seven goals in eight league games and a more impressive 15 goals in 13 games in all competitions. After seeing his consecutive scoring streak in the Clasico snapped last year at six games, Ronaldo will be keen to start a brand new run.
Madrid has had the better of their bitter rivals in the last two seasons in the league. Real is undefeated (two wins, one draw) in its last three meetings with Barca.
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