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Clasico's press round-up

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The international press confirm the global reach of a match such as Real Madrid-Barça. Journalists from well respected media outlets analyse the international impact of the Clasico. This Saturday’s game will surely be one of the global sporting events of the year. For that reason, we sought the opinions of journalists from around the world on the subject of the weekend’s clash in the Santiago Bernabéu.These are some of the key thoughts of a few of the thousands of sports journalists who follow day to day events in the world of football.

To start, Sam Tighe (The Bleacher Report): “Barca's new­found defensive strength and solidarity under Luis Enrique will be tested, as will Real Madrid's progress in moving on from the losses of Xabi Alonso and Angel Di María Neither side are close to 100 percent as yet, and this early clash represents a true litmus test of progress for both teams”. “We've seen epic Clasicos in the past, but the feeling leading up to this one is that we'll see two three ­pronged attacks unlike any we've seen before. In the blaugrana corner, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suárez linger; in the blanco corner Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema flex their muscles”, says Tighe.

I can't think of a single rivalry that approaches the Clasico status

An awesome world event

For his part, Sam Laird (Mashable.com) believes that “I can't think of a single rivalry that approaches the Clasico status. Most teams in most sports have their rivalries and they are fun. From Cal­-Stanford in American College Football, to Lakers-­Celtics in the NBA, to Giants-­Dodgers in Major League Baseball, the list goes on forever. But the Clasico is the grandaddy of them all”. “I don't think anything else is as heated on a consistent basis, features two teams that are always good and has the larger political and cultural symbolism of Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona. It's amazing, and awesome. I only hope I can see one in person someday”, says Laird.

Special match for Luis Suárez

The famous journalist and writer Jimmy Burns feels that “the inclusion of Luis Suárez in the Barca team alongside the likes of Messi, Neymar, and Iniesta is a mouth- watering prospect. Suárez is a great player, who scores goals. It will be fascinating to watch how he works with the team, and the team with him. I am trusting that he has learnt to channel his energy into more creative activity than biting his opponent”. “Ancelotti’s Real Madrid are not Ajax as we know. They were last season’s deserving European champion and currently looks to me the strongest team in La Liga, if not in Europe. The likes of Ronaldo, Benzema, Modric, Sergio Ramos, Isco, Kross, and James Rodríguez deserve respect”, confirms Burns.

“A global question”

Roberto Martínez, ESPN’s Argentine columnist who follows Spanish Football closely, feels that “the rivalry between Messi and ­Ronaldo has gone beyond national borders and is now a global question.” “Saturday’s game is a red hot topic that has generated enormous expectation due to Luis Suárez’s probable debut following his FIFA ban, the strong possibility that Lionel Messi surpasses the legendary Zarra’s goalscoring record; Cristiano Ronaldo’s outstanding current form and other details such as Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti’s provocation of Luis Enrique, the Barça coach, following his team’s performance against Liverpool”, says Martínez who considers the Clasico to be “a game that you can`t take your eyes off on TV”.

Talking about favourites in the Clasico is always difficult

Julio Gomes Filho, the BBC’s Brazilian Editor-in-chief in São Paulo, suggests that “talking about favourites in the Clásico is always difficult. Perhaps Real Madrid, overall, have a stronger side but you cannot underestimate a team that attacks like FC Barcelona.”

Finally, Raffaele Riverso, Barcelona correspondent for Tuttosport is of the opinion that “Madrid will look to score in the opening ten minutes, whilst Barça will want to avoid a repeat of what happened in the Parc des Princes.” “Ancelotti’s objective is to get to half time with a one or two goal lead because he knows the blaugranes perform better in the second half”, says Riverso who also considers that “the new position for Messi is the most important contribution by Luis Enrique”. “If Madrid lose their balance in between the lines and the confidence they have built up, Barça could cause them lots of problems”, assures Riverso.

“An interesting challenge to our marriage”

“My wife, Bipasha, is a hardcore Madridista, and I am a culé through ­and ­through”, says Bobby Ghosh, Former Deputy International Editor of Time Magazine and currently Managing Editor Quartz, qz.com. “This makes for an interesting challenge to our marriage every time a Clasico comes around. It is the one football game we can't watch at home, because neither of us can control our emotions. So we go out, to watch the game at a bar. And we always bring at least one friend, a neutral party, to watch with us. “But football's greatest rivalry is also an indirect testament to our marriage, fast approaching its 25th anniversary: it has survived more than 100 Clasicos, so we must really love each other!”, confirms Ghosh.

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