With Lionel Messi injured and Cristiano Ronaldo gone, next Sunday’s Clasico will be the first since 2007 without either of the stars… but do you remember the night when Real Madrid’s ‘Beast’ downed Barcelona?
- Lionel Messi has been ruled out of next Sunday’s Clasico with a fractured arm
- With Cristiano Ronaldo gone, we are set for a Barcelona-Real clash without stars
- The last time neither Messi nor Ronaldo was involved was back in 2007
- Ronaldo was still at Manchester United then, while Messi was out injured
- Real won the Clasico 1-0 thanks to a goal from Julio Baptista en route to the title
Seldom, if ever, in football history have two individuals come to so strongly represent a rivalry between two clubs.
For the past decade, the Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid has been defined to an enormous extent by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
So how strange it is going to feel next Sunday when the Clasico is played without either Messi or Ronaldo on the field for the first time since December 2007?
Lionel Messi will miss next Sunday’s Clasico after suffering a fractured arm on Saturday night
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Clasico days are over after he left Real Madrid for Juventus in the summer
You have to go back to December 23, 2007 for the last Clasico without either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo – when Real Madrid defeated Barcelona 1-0 at the Nou Camp
Ronaldo, of course, signed off nine years with Real by helping them complete a hat-trick of Champions League triumphs before joining Juventus in a £100million deal in July.
And Messi will miss next weekend’s Nou Camp showdown after suffering a fractured arm in Barcelona’s 4-2 win over Sevilla on Saturday night.
The last time there was a Clasico without either one of the stars was way back on December 23, 2007.
Ronaldo was in his penultimate – and most successful – season with Manchester United, while a blossoming Messi was sidelined that particular night with a thigh injury.
We were starting to appreciate the brilliance of 20-year-old Messi at that time. The previous campaign had seen his breakthrough into the Barcelona side, and 2007-08 had begun with eight La Liga and four Champions League goals.
But despite the Argentine’s efforts, Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona were trailing their Madrid rivals as they met just prior to Christmas in Catalonia.
How Barcelona lined up for that Clasico back in December 2007 – Lionel Messi was injured
How Real Madrid lined up for the match with their rivals back in December 2007
With Barca entering the contest four points behind Real, the under-pressure Rijkaard understandably put full faith in his star men, with Ronaldinho taking Messi’s place and Deco recalled for Eidur Gudjohnsen.
With hindsight, it looks a formidable Barcelona side – in midfield and attack at least – with Deco alongside Yaya Toure and Xavi in midfield and a front three of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o and Andres Iniesta in an advanced role. Thierry Henry was on the bench as Barca attempted to protect an unbeaten home record.
Up against that was a strong and confident Real side coached by German Bernd Schuster in what proved to be his one and only full season at the Bernabeu.
They had suffered defeats to Espanyol and Sevilla in the first half of the season, yet had led the standings since the second week and were in no mood to surrender their advantage.
At the back were the likes of Iker Casillas, Pepe and Sergio Ramos, players who would become stalwarts of the team. Up front were Robinho, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Raul – a trio that simply screamed goals.
Ruud van Nistelrooy of Real Madrid breaks clear of Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez
Yaya Toure, the Barcelona midfielder, is helped by Mahamadou Diarra during the 2007 match
Barcelona star Ronaldinho knocks the ball past the slide challenge of Real’s Sergio Ramos
Ronaldinho goes head-to-head with Fabio Cannavaro in an argument during the Clasico
It soon became apparent that Real were the superior team, with Pepe heading a Wesley Sneijder free-kick straight at Victor Valdes during the opening exchanges.
The game’s decisive moment arrived on 36 minutes. A long pass was mistimed by Gabi Milito and found Van Nistelrooy, who shifted it wide to the onrushing Julio Baptista, the erstwhile Arsenal playmaker.
The Brazilian known as ‘The Beast’ nudged the ball inside the area and smashed it past Valdes into the top corner. Schuster’s decision to retain faith in Baptista rather than recalling Guti had been vindicated.
Real looked dangerous on the break and could have added to their lead, with Robinho having a penalty appeal waved away and Ramos denied by Valdes at his near post.
Julio Baptista celebrates scoring Real Madrid’s winning goal at the Nou Camp in 2007
Real moved seven points clear at the top of the La Liga table following the win over their rivals
Deco and Samuel Eto’o can’t hide their disappointment as Barcelona slip to Clasico defeat
‘We should have finished them off sooner. I would not call it easy but it was certainly easier than I expected,’ admitted Schuster afterwards.
Barcelona laboured in their pursuit of an equaliser, though Eto’o and Toure had late chances to snatch what would have been an undeserved point.
For Ronaldinho, limited to long-range efforts that went high and wide, it was an evening where the magic deserted him.
How the class of Messi was missed as Real moved seven points clear of Barcelona en route to winning the La Liga title. Barcelona would finish third, a distant 18 points behind.
The Argentine wizard will be missed again next weekend. Ronaldo, too.
Source: Read Full Article