The Real Footie Analyst

The most expensive El Clasico match ever

ronaldo-messiWelcome to the world’s most expensive match – the priciest 22 players ever to take the field with a combined cost of £417million… Barcelona host Real Madrid on Saturday in the season’s first El Clasico: Messi v Ronaldo, Neymar v Bale, Pique v Ramos.

With Carlo Ancelotti’s team three points behind Gerardo Martino’s in La Liga, defeat would put some serious distance between the two sides early on.  Here’s how the mega-bucks starting XIs shape up.

Barcelona (4-1-2-3)

Victor Valdes – Academy

Days at the Nou Camp looked numbered in summer when Monaco offered big money and Pepe Reina seemed on his way but the 31-year-old stayed and has kept seven clean sheets in 12 games. 7/10

Dani Alves – £23m

Arguably the best right back in the world. More renowned for his surges down the wing and offensive contributions but is also an able defender. 9

Gerard Pique – £5m

In his book Sir Alex Ferguson calls the 6ft 4in centre back ‘an exceptional passer of the ball and a great personality with winning mentality’. High praise indeed considering the barbs elsewhere. 9

Carles Puyol – Academy

At 35 the bones may be creaking but the 100-cap Spain centre half still offers an awful lot, particularly in these fraught derby matches. Know-how and strength in abundance. 8

Adriano – £8.1m

Given his £77m-buyout clause it is odd to see the 28-year-old Brazilian labelled a ‘utility man’ by Barca’s website. First-choice left back with two goals this season but can be weak defensively. 7

Sergio Busquets – Academy

Perhaps overlooked considering all he has achieved in the game. The vital fulcrum in Barcelona’s carousel midfield with World Cup, European Championship and European Cup winners’ medals. 9

Xavi – Academy

The tiki-taka master with enough medals to melt down and build a skyscraper. At 33 there are no signs his quick feet and quicker brain are diminishing. 9

Andres Iniesta – Academy

Xavi’s philosophical twin and, at four years younger, can take over the mantle once the elder playmaker departs. Poses more of a goal threat through forays upfield.  9

Alexis Sanchez – £22m

The Chile winger stormed on to the global scene with a scintillating World Cup in 2010. He has yet to quite match those heights for Barca but is capable of lethal displays. 8

Neymar – £48.6m

Finally moved for mega bucks in summer and is beginning to show an understanding with his South American attacking partner. Only two goals so far, he will want to make a mark in his first derby. 9

Lionel Messi – Academy

What else can you say? Here are some statistics: he has 18 goals and 11 assists in 25 previous El Clasicos. There is devilment when he plays against Madrid. 10

Total cost: £106.7m

Total rating: 94/110

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Real Madrid (4-2-3-1)

Diego Lopez – £3m

Preferred by Jose Mourinho to Iker Casillas and Ancelotti has largely followed suit. Hulking figure at 6ft 5in and excellent shot stopper. 8/10

Alvaro Arbeloa – £5m

A mainstay at right back since returning in 2009 to the club he first joined as a boy. The former Liverpool defender is a steady rather than spectacular presence. 7

Sergio Ramos – £23m

Smooth defender who is equally comfortable on the ball or provoking opponents. In his ninth season at the Bernabeu and is a big dressing room character. 9

Raphael Varane – £8.5m

Highly technical centre back came to prominence after starring in the Champions League victory over Manchester City last season. At 20, could become a central Madrid figure for years to come. 8

Marcelo – £5.4m

Brazilian offers a real attacking threat from left back and gets more than stuck in whenever encountering the old rivals. A real livewire. 8

Asier Illarramendi – £34m

The sizeable transfer fee paid to secure the 23-year-old defensive midfielder from Real Sociedad this summer may surprise but, with Xabi Alonso struggling with injury, he has proved his worth. 8

Sami Khedira – £12m

The metronome in Madrid’s midfield. Keeps play moving and breaks up opponent’s attacks with unassuming efficiency. More important than often given credit for. 8

Gareth Bale – £86m

Scored on debut but world’s most expensive player has endured a frustrating start to his Real career with a series of niggling injuries keeping him out of the side. Desperate to play in first El Clasico. 9

Isco – £23m

One of the reasons Mesut Ozil is no longer at the club, the Spanish No 10 snubbed Manchester City to join this summer. Began with five goals in six matches but is on a six-game barren run. 8

Cristiano Ronaldo – £80m

Became first player to score in six consecutive El Clasicos and thrives in these matches. Just the 18 goals in 14 appearances for club and country this season. The yin to Messi’s yang. 10

Karim Benzema – £30m

Real’s undisputed centre-forward now Gonzalo Higuain has departed but, with four goals in 11 matches this season, will be called upon to deliver more regularly. 8

Total cost: £309.9m

Total rating: 91/110

Source: Daily Mail

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