Who will step up in Messi and Ronaldo’s absence?

28 October, 2018, 14:01 | Author: Greg Lawrence
  • Leo Messi

Madrid have not lost in their last four visits to Barcelona, although those results came under coach Zinedine Zindane and with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the team that he left in the summer for Juventus.

Where are Madrid's goals without Ronaldo? One of the reasons for the game receiving so much media attention is that the result of the El Clasico often goes on to have a say in the victor of the La Liga as such is the dominance of the two clubs in Spain. Ronaldo scored the victor shortly to silence the Nou Camp.

Lopetegui said Messi's absence was not a big factor in his preparations for the game.

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El Clasico minus Messi minus Ronaldo = 49.5% fewer goals. The only question is whether Valverde will give a second straight start to Rafinha after he scored against Inter, or opt to play forward Ousmane Dembele in Messi's spot.

Coach Ernesto Valverde must take much of the credit for the win: the Barca boss had said in his pre-game press conference that no one player could replace Messi and that the whole team would have to take on the responsibility.

And while Barcelona are now top of the table, that fact does not reflect the scrutiny the Catalans have come under after a string of poor performances. The Belgium global has kept only one clean sheet in his last five La Liga matches but will hope to do so against Barcelona.

A glance at the league table sums up the state of affairs in Spain.

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The La Liga champions would relish the opportunity to sign the 26-year-old Salah as he is still in the prime of his career, although Don Balon suggest Barca will need to sell assets in order to raise funds for any potential move for Salah. And Barca lead Madrid by the same distance.

"With Messi, they would have caused us more problems, but without him that caused us enough trouble as it was", Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said.

But none of that means the game won't be engrossing or pivotal, as it often is.

But the 13-time European champions have struggled since Ronaldo's exit, losing five of their first 13 games this season to leave themselves off the pace in La Liga.

Crises are never far away at clubs of this magnitude.

"We did what we had to do during our last two matches in the Champions League against Tottenham and PSV, therefore, the group situation is still positive despite the defeat".

The Clasico has been fascinating since 1930 and the absence of world football's two biggest stars can not erase a history of brutally passionate and passionately brutal rivalry.

Messi has been at Barcelona longer, making his Clasico debut aged 18 in a 3-0 victory over Real in November 2005, and has since become the king of El Clasico.

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