Over the past 10 years, the Clasico have been a special match between the two exceptional footballers: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. But both will not take part in the game, which hosts Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Sunday 28 October 2018.
Fronaldo left Juventus after nine years at Real Madrid, scoring 450 goals and winning 15 titles, four of them in the Champions League.
Argentina's Lionel Messi missed the match with a broken arm in Barcelona's 4-2 win over Sevilla last week, a win that put Barcelona ahead of the Primera Liga and will give them a chance to progress seven points behind Real Madrid if they win Sunday.
This will be the first Clasico, which has not seen the participation of Messi and Ronaldo together since the match of the "Classico" in December 2007 and ended with Real Madrid goal scored by Brazilian Julio Baptista, and saw also shine other players such as Deco and Gianluca Zambrotta of Barcelona and Gabriel Heinze Rod van Nistelrooy from Real Madrid.
Since then, Messi and Ronaldo have been the brightest stars in the Clasico. Messi is the best scorer of all time with 26 goals and 14 assists, while Ronaldo holds the record for the successive match in the top game with six goals in a row, 2012.
How will Barcelona face Messi's sudden absence? And how will Real Madrid deal with the consequences of Ronaldo's departure? How will the absence of the duo affect the game as a whole? Here are the answers to these questions from the BBC website:
Real Madrid suffer a goal without Ronaldo
Without exaggeration, Real Madrid have a hard time adapting to the departure of Ronaldo and legendary coach Zinedine Zidane in the summer of 2018.
They have been drawn three times and lost 3 times in their last four matches in the Spanish Liga, including two surprising defeats against Alves and Levante, to reach seventh place in the overall standings, and their coach, Juleen Lobetigi, is threatened with dismissal.
The origin of the problem is clear, with only one goal scored in those four matches, left-back Marcelo in the game lost at home and in the crowd against Levante 1-2.
Even the Champions League victory on Tuesday (October 23rd) against Victoria Blazen of the Czech Republic did not offer much solace. It is true that French striker Karim Benzema visited the net for the first time in about two months, but a 2-1 victory – another one from Marcelo – was not convincing, especially in a match in which Real Madrid won regularly and easily.
The departure of a player who has scored at least 40 goals in each of the last eight seasons without signing an efficient replacement would almost certainly have had disastrous consequences. The departure of the Portuguese was part of a gradual departure of several other players, Leaving him in a state of disquieting lack of real scorers.
When Real Madrid won both the Liga and the Champions League in 2017, the team scored 48 goals in the Liga with the feet of former players Ronaldo, Colombian Khamis Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata, all of whom have left the team. The administration has not hired other players to compensate them. Spaniard Mariano Diaz, who has yet to prove his worth.
It is true that the team still has plenty of creative talent, such as Welshman Gareth Bell, Spain's Isco, Spain's Marco Asencio and Benzema, whom any coach may wish to have on their list, but none of them is an accomplished scorer. They perform better outside the penalty area. Greater ability to manufacture goals rather than recording them.
One of the most striking statistics showing the dramatic decline in the scoring power is that last year he scored a world record by scoring 73 goals in a row, while the team has not scored a goal in four consecutive games this season.
Isco responded strongly this week to the hint that Real Madrid miss Ronaldo strongly, saying "we can not cry for someone who did not want to be here."
But the facts speak for themselves, Ferial Madrid has no qualifiers since the departure of the Portuguese player.
It is true that Esco can be relieved of responsibility for the recent drop in the team because he has just returned to surgery after appendectomy, but if his colleagues do not improve much and quickly, there will be more tears for Ronaldo's departure.
Mission impossible: compensation Messi!
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde simply replied when asked how he planned to compensate for Messi's loss after injury to the Argentinian, saying "I do not know."
A few days later, left-back Jordi Alba, who has a very productive relationship at the attacking level with Messi, expressed his pessimism as well. "No one can replace Messi. He is the best player in the world. "
But in the short term, Barcelona must find a way to compensate him, and at least Valverde has a lot of options available.
The most prominent of these options is the French wing Fast Osman Dembili, who joined Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund in a deal of $ 173 million, after the departure of Brazilian Neymar from Barcelona before the start of last season.
However, Dimbili has emerged to a very volatile level so far with Barcelona, when the ball reaches him, he may succeed in the passage of three players from the opposing team, or lose it gracefully whenever received, and the young player raises the anger of the Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez constantly when a promising attack on the ball A bad cross or a stray shot.
Given the disadvantages of Dimbili, the solution may be to give the Spanish multi-role player Sergei Roberto a more offensive role, which was assigned to this role in the last game «Classico» saw the absence of Messi from the starting line in 2015, and Roberto was able to perform well, and succeeded in Suarez's opening goal in his 4-0 victory over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Valverde may also make an unknown choice by involving Brazilian wing Malcolm, who joined Barcelona from Bordeaux for more than $ 38 million last summer, but has so far only appeared in two games that saw his participation as a substitute for a short time.
Another option is midfielder Rafinia, who took part in the starting line-up twice this season, before scoring his first goal on Wednesday (October 24th) at Inter Milan, Loan last season.
Valverde can instead choose to strengthen the midfield by involving veteran Chilean Arturo Vidal, who has only played twice since joining Bayern Munich and has been in trouble for using social networks to express his dissatisfaction with not playing too much. There is also the option of adopting a more traditional version of the 4-4-2 squad by involving Suarez alongside the young Spanish striker Munir Haddadi in the offensive.
Barcelona have many possible solutions to the problem of Messi's absence, but none of them seem convincing.
Is Marcelo the biggest beneficiary?
Regardless of who replaces Messi, the player who will be directly affected by the Argentine's absence will be the left-back of Real Madrid's Marcelo.
The Brazilian is playing a very important role in the Real attack, and this is evidenced by scoring two goals out of three goals scored recently by the Spanish capital club.
But in the previous Clasico games, and because Messi was moving to the right wing from his original position – the "phantom striker" – Marcelo had to accept, albeit reluctantly, the need to combat his offensive instincts to give himself a chance to match his opponent.
Pablo Zabaleta, Messi's team mate, explained this indirect but important result of Messi's presence on the pitch. "The back can not make much progress because Messi will be behind him in this way, so the back can not advance and leave behind him. If you give space to Messi, you'll be in trouble and get goals, so you certainly do not try to make much progress when you play against him. "
This view is supported by statistics: Marcelo's pass rate in each of his matches is 51.8 assists per game, but in the last three Classico games on Camp Nou, that figure dropped to just 41. The only exception was last year, when the two teams drew two goals each, when Marcelo increased his number to 66 assists but was punished by Barcelona players who scored two goals for his lead.
In this Clasico, Marcelo will be relieved of the burden of Messi's control and will be free to play his natural game, which will be in the interest of Real Madrid's offensive play. But it is still possible for Barcelona to exploit the progress of the Brazilian, especially as the speed of Dembli qualify him to exploit the gaps left by Marcelo behind him, in the event that coach Valverde decided to adopt offensive games.