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The El Clasico game changers

Friday 22nd December 2017

Its time for another episode of El Clasico, time for the two legendary clubs from Spain and Catalonia to come head to head for the biggest game in club football. It is no hidden fact that both Real Madrid and Barcelona are eternal rivals and will be girding up to ensure they emerge the winner against one another.

The Blancos are currently trailing 11 points behind their arch-rival with a game in hand while Barcelona seems to be making a procession to the league title. However, form and history play their part once the players get to the playing field – and here are five players who would determine the outcome of the fixture.

Lionel Messi

I will start with the regulars. Lionel Messi records the highest number of goals by any player in the history of the Clasico. With 24 goals from 34 games – that includes a seven-game drought – it could be rightly said that Messi enjoys terrifying the Galacticos.

After losing the Ballon d’Or to Cristiano Ronaldo for two consecutive years, the Argentine will be intent to dominate his Portuguese rival.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Well, I said the regulars. Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his 32nd birthday this February, and after that, he has added the La Liga, Champions League, European Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Club World Cup, FIFA World Player of the year and the Ballon d’Or to his trophy cabinet along with many other items of silverware.

His list of achievements at just 32 makes you wonder if the Portuguese is really human. Anyhow, with the critics still at odds regarding him, there is no stopping for the Portuguese as he would be happy to prove to them he is the best in the game.

Marcelo

With Real Madrid’s style of play which lay emphasis on the wings, Marcelo is an integral part of the club’s attacking ambitions. The Brazilian has been playing at the Santiago Bernabeu for a decade now and has become an indispensable member of the squad, despite not being one of their best defenders.

With Ronaldo’s tendency to move to the centre, the attacking responsibility is left to Marcelo as his forward runs provide Madrid with the width they need to make their system effective.

Paulinho

Many might consider him of no effect but could end up warming up to the Brazilian – just like they did after Paulinho settled at the Camp Nou. The Brazilian signed for the club amid rejection from the fans as they failed to fathom the club’s interest in him.

After all, he made no impact at Tottenham – so how could the almighty Blaugrana recruit a Tottenham flop? However, thus far, he has risen above the rejection and proven the fans wrong with 6 goals in La Liga from the central park, and his box-to-box runs could wreak havoc on Madrid’s defence.

Luka Modric

Luka Modric, the Croatian who claimed the ward for the best player of the Club World Cup following its conclusion some days ago. His powerful display in the tournament has made Madrid fans believe he is capable of bringing down their rival in the Clasico.

He set the tune of the midfield and his team danced to it. He shook the defences of the opponents in a way that left the audience in awe. If he could replicate such performance at the Clasico, Los Blancos would find it easy to dominate the games.

Adebayo Temitope

Temitope, an ardent soccer fan. I may be based in Lagos but I watch as much European football as I can. I've been writing about football for several years, before I joined IRIAW you may have seen my work on The Football Weeks. I'm also a keen music fan


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