One of the biggest football matches in world football, El Clasico, takes place this Sunday. For the past 10 years, it has been a personal playground for two larger-than-life global icons. But neither of them will be playing on Sunday afternoon when Barcelona and Real Madrid lock horns at the Nou Camp.
Cristiano Ronaldo, of course, has departed for Juventus after a nine-year stay in Madrid that yielded 450 goals and 15 trophies including four Champions League crowns.
And now Lionel Messi is absent too, with Barca’s talisman sidelined after breaking his arm in last weekend’s 4-2 victory against Sevilla – a result that sent the reigning champions top of the table and gives them the chance to move seven points clear of struggling Real on Sunday.
Barca has not won a Clasico without Messi since his debut for the club, failing to win either of the two matches with Madrid he has missed since 2004.
So how will Barca cope with Messi’s sudden absence? How will Real overcome their post-Ronaldo hangover? How will the pair’s absence affect the wider pattern of the game?
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