New Delhi: In the next couple of hours, sporting world will be taken by a certain El Clasico and the noise emanating from the historic Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. Inside the cauldron, possibly two of the greatest clubs in the world – Barcelona and Real Madrid – will try to something more than just winning the game and brownie points.
For a single match starring some of the biggest names means playing in the game in galactic proportions. Known for their fierce rivalry, with history, politics and notorious legacy all thrown in, every time these two giants meet, it becomes the ultimate sporting spectacle. Few rivalries can match the one being played out between these two Iberian sides.
Today, we will see the two best players in the world against each other, World Cup's leading scorer and some of most expensive players in history. If the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and James Rodriguez are not enough, there is Luis Suarez – probably the most controversial player of his generation. The Uruguayan is set to make his Barcelona debut after serving a ban for biting Italian Giorgio Chielini.
Besides, both the sides have their respective ensemble of stars who will don the supporting role in this mega match. The likes of World Cup winners in Iker Casillas, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Ramos, Shami Khedira, Toni Kroos and finalists Javier Mascherano will make sure that there is no dull moment in the match. Yes, there are host of other players - talented and volatile enough to feature in any list of mavericks.
Another un-alienable aspect of this rivalry, like any other, is the presence of insurmountable fan interests. Long before the actual match-day, fans from either groups have started building the tempo using various social media outlets. Their online presence is so massive that, Messi and Ronaldo alone have contributed more than 170 million Facebook followers.
Helping survive the rivalry, the clubs, players and the fans are the sponsors with a steady stream of cash flow through various corridors and means. It's no coincidence that these two clubs have two of the most recognisable and profitable airlines in Qatar and Emirates as their shirt sponsors.
Probably, that's why it's called the Classic. No doubt, the last time these two teams met, an estimated 400 million world-wide audience witnessed Wales super-star Gareth Bale producing a dash of highest quality to give Los Blancos a 2-1 win at Camp Nou. He however, won't feature in the match this time around. Before that, Messi scored a hat-trick for Barca in a 4-3 win.
Serving the worldwide audience truly, El Clasico has always produced close fights. Ever since Barcelona defeated Madrid 5-0 in 2010, the winning margin for either sides has not been more than two goals. In terms of records, Lionel Messi is the leading scorer with 21 Clasico goals in 28 matches, while Ronaldo has had a rather lacklustre showing, scoring 13 goals in 21 games.
But the Portuguese has started the season in a rollicking way. He has already scored 15 goals in the first eight games, which includes three hat-tricks. And he will not stop there. For Messi, he total of 250 league goals is one short of Athletic Bilbao legend Telmo Zarra's record for most goals.
So, expect yet another classic.