Press Room Banter: Another classic set for “El Clasico”

As we enter the month of November, I can’t help but be reminded of an enthralling game that took place one year ago on Nov. 29. In America, a large fraction of the people probably have no idea what I’m referring to — but for the rest of the world, it is close to one of the biggest games each year in soccer. It’s almost a holiday when these two teams meet. I definitely didn’t go to class.

With the domestic league rematch set to play in less than 40 days, the stage is set for another classic match to go down in the history books.
El Super Clasico, or quite simply known here in the states as The Spanish Derby, is a soccer game played between professional teams, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid FC. FC stands for football club. Not American football; football you actually play with your feet.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are the undisputed top two teams in Spain and in the world. The numbers separating these two squads are a matter of inches. Barcelona has won 76 trophies; Madrid has won 75. That doesn’t even include the various individual accolades the players have accumulated.

But this rivalry not only revolves around victory but also transcends the culture and history of both Spanish cities. The encounter is rife with political implications. Real Madrid is representative of Spanish nationalism while Barcelona identifies with Catalan pride and nationalism. This highly awaited fixture isn’t just about winning — it’s about bragging rights in Spain.

Along with the label and territory of being two of the strongest and most successful soccer teams in the world comes the comparisons of individual players. Soccer experts and avid fans alike respond with the two names: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The two players evoke an entirely different set of emotions, yet they come as a package. Argentinean Lionel Messi, forward for Barcelona, is a small and clever player who uses his silky ball control and agility to weave through opposing defenses. Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, also occupying the forward position, is a more powerful and audacious type of player, taking full advantage of his lethal speed and skill to attack and threaten.

As the final whistle blew in last year’s derby, the score line read 5-0. It was the largest margin of victory suffered by Real Madrid and its head coach, Jose Mourinho. Sheer ecstasy and jubilation overflowed in the Barcelona camp. Odious sentiments and utter disbelief seeped from within Real Madrid’s. The camera flashes reached a continuous blur, microphones were ready to be shoved into players’ faces and the soccer stadium slowly emptied the 22 players, two head coaches and 99,980 supporters.

But what remained, in the battle of the declaration for the world’s greatest soccer player, tipped the balance in favor of Messi. He was a constant thorn in Real Madrid’s side and provided two assists in the flurry of goals scored past World Cup winning goalkeeper, Spaniard Iker Casillas. Although Real Madrid did not get on the scoreboard, Los Blancos have bolstered their roster over the summer and currently sit atop of the La Liga standings. The Blaugranas will have to prepare well when they face Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. on Dec. 11.
Barcelona and Lionel Messi can justly revel in their past achievement, but not for long —as anyone on the top knows, complacency can come to haunt.

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