Real Madrid are set to host arch-rivals Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu in the first Clasico of the season on Saturday. The La Liga fixture, which is viewed as one of the biggest rivalries in football, will pit the table-toppers Barcelona against defending champions Real Madrid, who are currently trailing 11 points behind their rivals.
Hoping to see a clash of titans in the Clasico irrespective of the points difference, former Real Madrid midfielder Christian Karembeu said that the upcoming match is crucial for Los Blancos. “Talking about this Clasico, we need to look at the points count. It is clear that all three points are crucial for Real Madrid. Barcelona have taken a huge lead this season. There is an obligation on Real to make up this huge gap. If Barcelona wins, they get an advantage with a win and it means La Liga is finished,” the former France international told indianexpress.com.
In spite of initial hiccups in the pre-season games, and losing Spanish Super Cup against the Zinedine Zidane’s side, Barca have been dominant in La Liga this season and have not lost a single game. Karembeu went on to praise the philosophy adopted by manager Ernesto Valverde and said the Catalans have not missed the star striker Neymar who joined PSG.
“The moment Ernesto Valderve built his time without Neymar, we were thinking that Barcelona will miss him. But it didn’t happen. Because there is a philosophy, mannerism and style about Barcelona. It is why they are leading in the table right now,” the two-time UEFA Champions League winning footballer said.
For fans, the encounter between the two teams is a chance to once again see two of the best footballers in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, go against each other. Speaking on the rivalry between the two, Karembeu said it is difficult to differentiate between the two.
“It is very difficult to say who has been better because both of them have broken so many records over the years. They have scored goals all over the world, won Ballon D’Ors awards. These two players are very efficient, very effective and are world-class players. They are always in a big atmosphere at at Barca and Real, and they always aim for victory,” he said.
Talking about expansion of football in India in recent years, the former France midfielder said that the country has now gained expertise to grow the sport. “Now people in India are interested to play football. The football clubs are trying to grow which is very good. India hosted a successful U-17 football world cup tournament this year which means that they have expertise and experience to grow football in India,” he said.