What happens when stars collide? Well, if they collide at an extremely high speed, then chances are that the stellar material would turn into a vast cloud of gas and never to become a star again. In contrast, if the speed is very slow, the stars are likely to merge into a much larger new star, according to Dr. Sten Odenwald.
El Clásico. What comes to mind when thinking of the word? Rivalry? Best? Barcelona? Real Madrid? Media? History? Politics? Language? Stars? Alfredo Di Stefano? Johan Cruyff? Anti-Catalan? Anti-Spanishness?
Mustafa Mohammed: Iker Casillias is not the Real Madrid fan-favourite he once was. He has made his fair share of high-profile errors in the last 24 months. However, a legend like him deserves respect and applause. No matter what he does in his final years at Madrid, he will always be seen as a club legend. Many of Real Madrid's trophies over the past two decades would not have been won had it not been for his interventions. He may not be amongst the best goalkeepers in the world but he is one of the most experienced goalkeepers in top-level football and that could prove vital.
Although sometimes erratic and unpredictable, Sergio Ramos is outstanding aerially, a very good passer of the ball and marshals his defence excellently. He also has a knack for scoring goals. When on song, he is among the best centre-backs in the world and a force to be reckoned with.
MM: Like my co-writer, Ahmed, I would also have to opt for a back three. Both teams are known for their flair in midfield and in forward positions rather than their defensive resolution, so this should come as no surprise.
Sergio Ramos is imperious as Real Madrid's leader and main physical presence at the back. He is what many would term a monster. His positional awareness and heading ability is a stand-out. Critics will say he goes over-board at times and may even be too physical at times (the amount of red cards he has received in his career does not help) but most days he has opposition strikers in his pocket.
Next in my defensive line-up is Javier Mascherano. A midfielder by trade, he has mostly been deputising in defence for Barcelona since making his move in 2010. His ability on the ball and strong muscular build have no doubt aided him in his new position. Pique would also have been a great option but he has been off-the-boil ever since inspiring Barcelona side to domestic and European success under the management of Pep Guardiola.
My final defensive pick would have to be Marcelo. Both sides are not, in my opinion, gifted by great full-backs in the mould of Roberto Carlos or Cafu but they do possess adventurous full-backs. The most adventurous is arguably the Brazilian right-back who seems more like a winger than he does a defender at times. His defending does leave much to be desired, but he makes up for it in his elegance and speed on the ball. Dani Alves is not the player he once was but would also have been a great choice in place of Marcelo but misses out on this occasion.
I was at first almost certain to pick Sergio Busquets. I then switched more times than I care to remember from Toni Kroos to Javier Mascherano and vice-versa. Kroos is the more complete player, the better passes and has the stats to back him up, yet he is rather suspect defensively, especially with a back three behind him. Mascherano covers virtually every inch of grass, is flexible and offers that necessary defensive steel.
Iniesta is a player this team can't do without. In a statistics-mad era, the goal and assist tallies simply don't match the maestro's qualities. He absolutely radiates class each time he is anywhere near the ball. Iniesta tracks back, dribbles, creates chance after chance and has almost unrivalled vision in the final third. He may have slowed down just ever so slightly, yet his brain is as sharp as ever. He is therefore picked ahead of Isco.
On the left side of midfield Andres Iniesta is any manager's dream. His sense of balance and ability to make the impossible pass is what makes him stand out from any other player. He is never known to produce a bad display.
On the right side of midfield Gareth Bale is a certainty. His strength and power, as well as his pace and goal-scoring ability ensures that he is chosen ahead of James Rodriguez, who is a great player in his own right. He has had his fair share of critics at Real Madrid but he has nothing to prove as his ability is well-known to the world of football.
AS: Lionel Messi is otherworldly and widely regarded as the greatest player of all time. The superlatives have run out. His inclusion is self-explanatory and he walks straight into this team. Cristiano Ronaldo is another player who has been the epitome of consistency for several years now. Credit where credit's due. He fully deserves his spot in this combined 11.
Neymar ahead of Luis Suarez and Karim Benzema for me in another difficult decision. Neymar is a technical marvel, magical wizard and a humble genius; nothing short of a ball of destruction. He is continuing to make a real difference for both club and country and has been making great strides this season, bar a recent slump in form by his very high standards. Indeed, he has already scored 20 goals and assisted 4 and is a real menace to most defences. However, an argument can instead be made for either Suarez or Benzema who have in recent months and years been in fine form themselves. Unlike Neymar, Suarez and Benzema are either the finished articles or close to being so. I therefore fully understand the decision my co-writer, Mustafa, has made. Yet since Bale is in this team, Neymar has to be too.
Luiz Suarez also makes his way into my line-up for his immense talent on the ball and his ability to create something out of nothing. He blew minds at Liverpool but has not set La Liga alight since his move to Barcelona in 2014. However, in recent weeks he has seemed to settle in with his new team-mates. He will have a vital opportunity to kill Los Blancos' title challenge and win the hearts of Catalans in the process. His temperament may be questioned due to his habit of sinking his teeth into his fellow players. However, that aside, there is no questioning his footballing ability. Neymar still has a long way to go to prove himself to be on Suarez's level and Benzema is not as consistent as the Uruguayan.
So that's our Barcelona-Real Madrid Combined XIs. Do you agree or disagree with our choices? Let us know what your El Clásico Combined XI is by commenting below!
AS: I expect both teams to score and for Barcelona to emerge with a victory. Barcelona are at home and in great form, whilst Messi is playing on an entirely different level. The midfield battle will be key, but it's difficult to see Real Madrid getting anything more than a draw. Having said that, it's El Clásico and anything can happen. 3-1.
MM: Both sides are not known for their conservative approach to games and as a result I have to presume this match will be goal-fest. Both teams are eager to win this match. A win for Barcelona will almost guarantee them the title, whilst a win for Real Madrid will mean they will be back in the title race. I do think Real Madrid will want this more and will run out 3-2 winners. They are due a great result in 2015.
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