Ronaldo or Suarez? Busquets or Kroos? Combined El Clasico XIPublished December 1, 2016
LaLiga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid face off at the Camp Nou on Saturday in one of the most hotly-anticipated games in the footballing calendar.
From the hosts’ MSN to Los Merengues’ own potent offensive trio, the BBC, both sides contain world-class stars all over the pitch, making the match between the two Spanish giants one simply not miss.
Ahead of the game, we picked an entirely subjective combined Clasico XI. Lining up in the conventional 4-3-3 formation often used by the two teams, this composite side would take some beating…
Goalkeeper: Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
There’s little, on the face of it, to separate the German from Real’s Keylor Navas in goal, but he just about edges it due to his ability to play the ball from deep and vast potential for further growth.
Right-back: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
A key component in the Los Blancos defence, Spain international Carvajal has impressed this season with his energetic style and improved delivery into the box, pipping Barca’s newly-converted full-back Sergi Roberto to a place in our team.
Centre-back: Gerard Pique (Barcelona) & Pepe (Real Madrid)
Former Manchester United defender Pique was the standout pick at the heart of defence due to his ability to influence in both boxes, while Pepe gets the nod over teammate Sergio Ramos in light of his excellent 12 months for club and country that yielded not only a Champions League title, but also a European Championship winner’s medal.
Left-back: Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
In a side as attacking as this one, both full-backs would need to show the dual capacity to attack and defend in equal measure. With that in mind, Barca’s Jordi Alba is selected ahead of the superbly gifted Brazilian Marcelo in light of his superior defensive nous.
Central midfield: Toni Kroos & Luka Modric (both Real Madrid)
As good a pairing as you’ll see anywhere in Europe, Real Madrid’s axis of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric regularly influences matches for Zidane’s men and were crucial during the club’s historic 11th Champions League win last season.
In years gone by, Sergio Busquets would have been a shoo-in, but his form has dipped considerably of late as the Barcelona midfield toils in the absence of key players.
Attacking midfield: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Despite coming into the twilight of his career, Barca veteran Iniesta still has a huge role to play for Luis Enrique’s side. Blessed with the ability to change a game in an instant with a smart pass or a jinking run, it’s been telling that his recent injury absence has coincided with a poor run of form for Saturday’s hosts. Still irreplaceable, Blaugrana fans will be hoping and praying that their main man in midfield shrugs off a knock to play at the Camp Nou.
Right-forward: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
No explanation needed, really, in spite of Gareth Bale’s superb early-season form for Real. One of the best players ever to play the game, Messi is still Barcelona’s talisman and the player on whom Luis Enrique more or less totally relies for attacking inspiration when the chips are down.
Centre-forward: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
One of the contentious decisions in our composite side, Ballon d’Or favourite Ronaldo pips Pichichi winner Luis Suarez by the smallest of margins given his outstanding 2015/16 campaign that brought Champions League and European Championship medals.
Left-forward: Neymar (Barcelona)
The final place in our Clasico team goes to Neymar, who continues to star for club and country. A part of the LaLiga winning Barcelona side that amassed 112 goals in 38 matches, the 24-year-old is also leading a renaissance for Brazil at international level. Sure to be a mainstay on the global scene for many years to come.
So here it is, the team in full: