Current El Clasico academy stars XI: Best of Barca and Real
Ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid renewing hostilities in the latest Clasico encounter, Coral’s football experts got thinking about which academy products from these superb Spanish sides shall be in action?
We got our heads together and came up with an all-star XI, with subs, comprised of Real and Barca youth players still currently on the books of these La Liga giants. Who’s in? Read on to discover that…
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Here we have a man who has won everything worth having in football. Casillas recently surpassed 500 La Liga outings for Madrid, and is still only 33. Among his many honours are three Champions League crowns, and as many international tournament victories with Spain.
Check out this compilation of Real icon Casillas’ best ever saves:
Right back: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
When you’re sold and bought back to the Bernabeu after impressing in another country’s top league, then there is something special about you. Real right back Carvajal, 23, is in this category, having briefly left the capital for Bayer Leverkusen. Never mind rumours of a deal for Porto counterpart Danilo, Carlo Ancelotti has a homegrown hero already on the books for this flank of defence.
Centre back: Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Pique, now 28, left La Masia for Manchester United aged 17 in 2004, but returned to Barcelona in 2008. He capped his first senior season at the Nou Camp with the first of two Champions League winner’s medals as part of a European treble, and has never looked back.
Centre back: Nacho Fernandez (Real Madrid)
Versatile defender Nacho, 25, knows his role is just to plug gaps at the back for Madrid, but we have selected him in his natural position. At the Bernabeu he has been part of squads to win four major honours.
Left back: Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
Released from La Masia at 16 in 2005, it took Barcelona’s current left back seven years to get back to the Catalan giants. Valencia got decent money (€14m) when they sold him to the Nou Camp club, but Alba, also 25, really caught the eye during Spain’s Euro 2012 triumph, and you can relive his goal in the final against Italy here:
Central midfield: Rafinha Alcantara (Barcelona)
Older brother Thiago may not have fared so well since leaving Barca with an injury-hit spell at Bayern Munich, but 22-year-old Rafinha is getting his chance in the first-team after an impressive loan spell at Celta Vigo last term. He was coached then, as now, by Luis Enrique, one of several European stars to have played for both the Catalan giants and Madrid.
Central midfield: Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona)
Now in the autumn of his career aged 35, Barca club captain Xavi has almost made 750 first-team appearances and been affiliated with the Nou Camp club since 1991. Few in history can be mentioned in the same breath as this outstanding servant with his perfect playmaking abilities.
Central midfield: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Like partner in crime Xavi and compatriot, but El Clasico foe, Casillas, 30-year-old Iniesta is a three-time Champions League winner, with his silky skills getting Barcelona on the front foot for over a decade now.
Right wing: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona)
Tenerife-born winger Pedro, now 27, joined Barca’s academy as a teenager and progressed through their ranks, enjoying a breakthrough 2009/10 campaign for the first team, which is still his best scoring season to date. Since the signings of Neymar and Luis Suarez, first-team opportunities have been tough to come by, though Pedro is a 7/4 anytime scorer chance against Real.
Striker: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Argentina inspiration Messi needs three more goals to have hit 400 senior club strikes for Barcelona aged just 27. Odds of 16/1 say this world-class attacking talent can get to that milestone with what would be a memorable El Clasico treble. Be sure to watch Messi’s 21 previous goals in this fabulous fixture below:
Left wing: Jese Rodriguez (Real Madrid)
Wideman Jese was primed to go to the World Cup in Brazil last summer before a serious knee injury ended his hopes. The only uncapped inclusion at senior level in our XI has since returned to action, though. Jese is a 10/1 shot to score last in El Clasico.
With Sergio Busquets out injured, there are seven other options for our El Clasico bench. Third-choice Barca keeper Jordi Masip is our reserve stopper, joining defensive backup in Nou Camp teammates Marc Bartra and Martin Montoya, plus Real utility man Alvaro Arbeloa.
Sergi Roberto, another La Masia product, is there to come on in midfield, leaving Munir El Haddadi and Alvaro Medran, who have both had some first-team exposure in Barcelona and Madrid this term respectively, as attacking alternatives.