Is Real Madrid v Barcelona still the biggest league game in the world?
Barca could be out of sight with a Clasico win
Saturday brings the first Clasico of the season as Real Madrid face Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Clasico features two of the biggest and most successful clubs on the planet. They represent Spain’s two largest cities. And normally these matches shape the title race in La Liga.
But that’s not the case this year. Real Madrid are currently fourth, 11 points behind Barcelona at the top with a game in hand. Zinedine Zidane’s side have to win just to stay within touching distance of Barca.
As the Catalonia-based club are 1/4 on to win the title, the latest instalment of the rivalry doesn’t have quite the same stakes as usual.
But that doesn’t mean it’s no longer the biggest league game in the world.
Even without Neymar, there’s no league game on the planet that can match the Clasico for glamour or sheer star power.
The last 10 Ballon d’Or awards have been won by either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos and many more world-class players could also start on Saturday afternoon.
For many players, playing for either of the La Liga giants still represents the pinnacle of their career.
After excelling in the Premier League, Ronaldo, Bale and Suarez have all seen a move to one of those clubs as the next step up. Eden Hazard and Philippe Coutinho could follow the same path in the near future. Hazard is 4/11 to join Real Madrid and Coutinho is 4/6 to sign for Barcelona.
The best players within Spain tend to gravitate towards Real or Barcelona too. Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann is 4/6 to move to Camp Nou.
Even if the Clasico has lost some of its sparkle, there isn’t another game that could replace it as the biggest fixture around.
The Superclasico in Argentina between Boca Juniors and River Plate has an incredibly heated atmosphere. Their fierce rivalry means there’s always fireworks when they play, but it doesn’t have the worldwide reach of the Clasico.
The Manchester derby is getting there, especially with Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in charge of Manchester United and Manchester City respectively. But they need to be competing against each other for domestic and European titles for a few years to reach the next level.
This season’s Serie A title race is shaping up to be one of the best in years. However, the league’s reputation has dropped over the last decade, which means the Derby d’Italia between Inter Milan and Juventus doesn’t generate the excitement it might.
For the foreseeable future, it looks like the Clasico will remain football’s blockbuster game.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing