It’s is perhaps the most prestigious match in world football; it might be even one of the most publicized events in sport, El Clasico. For those not familiar with the term, it is the clash between two of Spain’s and footballs most important clubs, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
When FC Barcelona accomplished the treble (domestic league, domestic cup and the UEFA Champions League), a feat similar to Tennis’ Grand Slam whereas one player wins all four singles Grand Slam tournaments within a year, Real Madrid responded by spending an unprecedented 254 Million Euro on transfers.
In a sport that has a couple of notable rivalries and derbies, the Old Firm (Celtic Glasgow vs. Glasgow Rangers) in Scotland, Derby della Capitale (AS Rome vs. Lazio Rome) in Italy or the Superclasico (Boca Juniors vs. River Plate) in Italy, the match-up between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid stands out. Not to take anything away from the intenseness or passion that these supporters have for their clubs but the FC Barcelona/Real Madrid match is an entirely different beast.
While its underlying political conflict might’ve lessened the battle for supremacy has intensified. With all due respect to the other clubs, when it comes down to an economic point of view it is FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, the latter being the club with the largest revenue in sport period.
The last century belonged to Real Madrid, having being named FIFA’s club of the 20th century. Although it took FC Barcelona a little longer to win their first Champions League crown, it is undeniable that the Blaugrana have been Spain’s most successful club from the 90’s onwards. Especially the most recent decade proved to be a fairly successful one. Perhaps it is a bit premature but the current Barca side is already being touted as the best (club) football side of all time.
Now, come April 2011, we could witness no less than four Clasico within the space of a mere weeks. One Clasico creates a media-frenzy unlike any other sports event bar major tournaments, Olympics etc. No offense, but the Super Bowl doesn’t generate that much interest outside of the United States. According to a study the criminal rate drops around the time of the Super Bowl, perhaps the (American) football’s most important event should be held more regularly.
The first April Clasico is a reverse (league) fixture, an event most football fans have been anticipating well, since the last Clasico in November ’10 also known as the Manita humiliation. In addition to the league fixture, the other confirmed Clasico is the Copa del Rey final. Regardless of the prestige or reputation of the Copa, a final is and has always been a worthy occasion for a Clasico.
So why would four Clasico’s be a nightmare?
One of the reasons a derby is so intense, it is an occasion where the anticipation builds slowly and reaches its climax with the game itself. Four Clasico’s would lead to an oversaturation. It’s one of the reasons why Will Smith is the most bankable and powerful Hollywood star, he doesn’t penetrate the movie theatres all year long. He makes the audience wait and long for him.
After a full month of Clasico’s, what is there to look out for? The reason people watched the otherwise dull World Cup final between Spain and Holland, simply because it was the final. I can only guesstimate the actual numbers but a Spain/Brazil final would’ve sent the masses into overdrive.
I’d assume that a possible FC Barcelona/Real Madrid final would dwarf the numbers of any Champions League tie bar the final.
Personally, I think two Clasico’s in April are just about enough.
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