The first El Clasico of the season happens this Sunday in La Liga and it will be a weird kind of clash for a few reasons. First off, it will occur without Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi, two notable figures who have been the iconic heroes in this fixtures for over a decade.
However, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde believes Sunday’s Clasico can be memorable and will need none of its renowned and rival intensity in the absence of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid visits Camp Nou on Sunday for a first showdown with their bitter rivals since Ronaldo departed to Juventus in July.
A broken arm has put five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi on the sidelines, which means the clash will occur without either star forward for the first time since December 2007.
Be that as it may, Valverde, who represented the Catalan giants as a player between 1988 and 1990, indicated the long history of simmering rivalry between the sides – recalling the infamous episode in 2002 when ex-Barca most loved Luis Figo had a pig’s head tossed at him on a return to Camp Nou in Madrid hues.
No, because El Clasico existed long before those two,” Valverde said at his pre-match news conference when asked whether it would be a lesser fixture without the two leading men.
“There were great players before, tension before – there were even pigs flying, remember?
“Cristiano hasn’t been in Madrid since the start of the season. We just lost Messi a week ago.
“We don’t think Madrid have lost this or that player, we look at Madrid now.
“[Injured right-back Dani] Carvajal is a more important absence [because] Cristiano doesn’t play for them anymore.”
A few spectators may wander there is more shot of pig’s head flying than Julen Lopetegui seeing out his first season in charge for the White with a defeat in El Clasico on Sunday would likely to seal the former Spain manager’s destiny.
Los Blancos won in Europe though, in far less persuading circumstance, a restless 2-1 win over Czech side Viktoria Plzen did little to calm the pressure on Julen Lopetegui. It finished a hopeless succession of 4 loss in 5 matches but the performances was apparently as terrible as any they’ve put in this season with the unfancied opponents spurning a few opportunities to score goals.
In any case, Valverde does not need Barcelona to peruse excessively into Madrid seemingly being held by a crisis.
We shouldn’t focus too much on that because we all know what Madrid are made of,” he said. “The more wounded they are, the more dangerous they can be.
They’ve come to Camp Nou in difficult situations over recent seasons and they’ve always performed well.
We don’t think too much about things happening at Madrid. We focus on them as a team and they are a team with great players.