Sports

Could Messi absence reduce the glamour of this weekend El Clasico?

by Anthony Nlebem

October 28, 2018 | 6:41 am
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No doubt, that Lionel Messi  have displayed a world class , mouthwatering and a standing ovation performance in the past El Clasico games where he effortlessly toe Real Madrid apart.

But that will not be said about the prolific Argentina playmaker, at the first El Clasico of the 2018/2019 LaLiga season as  the Barcelona star is ruled out  for Sunday El Clasico for the first time in 11 years after breaking a bone in his arm that will keep him out of action for three weeks.

The Barcelona star has played in the last 35 clashes with Real Madrid but will not feature next weekend and will be sidelined for around three weeks.

Across all the major competitions, the Argentine magician has started every match against Los Blancos apart from one league fixture in the 2015/16 season when he was suffering from an injury and only managed 34 minutes in a 4-0 win.

In his 38 appearances against Barcelona’s arch rivals, Messi has emerged victorious on 17 occasions, drawing nine and losing 12.

He has led the Catalans to some memorable nights both at the Camp Nou and the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and has hit two hat-tricks and five braces.

The No.10 has only missed two of the 40 matches played between the two greats of Spanish football since his debut, both because of injury.

Messi was absent in April 2006 through a hamstring issue and less than a year later he tore the same muscle and didn’t feature in a game which saw Madrid win, thanks to a goal from Julio Baptista.

Without the best player in the world, the most attractive game on the planet will lose some of its sparkle, however, there is no doubt that all eyes will still be on events at the Camp Nou next Sunday.

Aside Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo is another big star that will not feature in the El Clasico following a big money move to Italian club side, Juventus.

For the past 10 years, it has been a personal playground Cristiano Ronaldo amd Lionel Messi. But neither of the two football ‘gods’ are playing on Sunday afternoon when Barcelona and Real Madrid lock horns at the Nou Camp.

Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Juventus after a successful 9 years with Spanish giant Real Madrid that yielded 450 goals and 15 trophies including four Champions League crowns to his honour.

With Barcelona’s talisman sidelined after breaking his arm in last weekend’s 4-2 victory against Sevilla.

This Sunday titan will be first El Clasico featuring neither Messi nor Ronaldo since December 2007, when Real Madrid triumphed with a solitary goal from Julio Baptista.

Since then, Messi and Ronaldo have dominated in the galaxy of world-class talent at El Clasico.

With 26 goals, Messi leads in El Clasico’s  all-time leading scorer and 14 assits, while fellow rival, Ronaldo holds the record for the most consecutive El Clasicos with a goal; six games, all in 2012.

The big question ahead of the battle is how will Messi’s absence decide the outcome of the El Clasico and how will Barcelona cope without their star man?

Real Madrid form have dipped since the departure of Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane in the summer.

Los Blancos have drawn one and lost three of their past four league games, including shock defeats by Alaves and Levante, to drop down to seventh in the table and leave new manager Julen Lopetegui’s position hanging by a thread.

The root of their problems is obvious: they have only scored once in those four games, and that came from left-back Marcelo in last weekend’s 2-1 home defeat by Levante.

Even the midweek Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen didn’t offer much solace. True, Karim Benzema got on the scoresheet for the first time in nearly two months, but the 2-1 victory – sealed by another goal from Marcelo – was far from convincing, especially in the kind of game they would routinely win by a street when Ronaldo was around.

How will Real Madrid overcome the absence of Ronaldo?

No doubt to say that Real Madrid are suffering for failing to buy a  potential replacement for a player who scored at least 40 goals in each of the past eight seasons.

Real Madrid might have won the Champions League in each of the last three seasons, but last year they finished more than 20 points behind Barcelona.

Lack of experience at the elite level is also something that can be held against Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui, and he appears to have no answers. Lopetegui could lose his job if Los Blancos lose to Barcelona on Sunday, but the players have thrown their support to their manager.

“We are with Julen Lopetegui to the death,” Marcelo told beIN LaLiga after the game.

“He speaks to us clearly and there is a good relationship between us and him, we have to let him work.

 

Anthony Nlebem

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by Anthony Nlebem

October 28, 2018 | 6:41 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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