Goal.com looks at the key battles that is possibly decide the Spanish Supercup battle. Will CR7 trump Alves, will Ramos get the better of Messi...
We didn’t see much from Cristiano Ronaldo in the La Liga opener against Valencia possibly due to fitness issues but surely he will raise his game for the El Classico. Ronaldo played an integral role for Real Madrid in their last victory at Camp Nou and the Madristas will hope for another top display from their talisman.
Dani Alves’s defensive skills have always divided opinions amongst fans, however the Brazilian full back has managed to give a good account of himself despite Jose Mourinho’s choice of playing on the counter attack wherein he looks to exploit the space behind Alves. In Barcelona’s style of play, there is zero emphasis on man marking which in turn means that Alves cannot at all times keep track of the Portuguese winger’s runs. Ronaldo provides a constant threat by being capable of running in behind the defence in order to get on the end of passes from Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil. So this explains why Dani Alves needs to be on his toes as Barcelona cannot afford to allow Ronaldo to run freely in their half.
Here are the two spines of their respective teams as they control the game with their expansive styles of passing. Xavi is well known for his relentless distribution of the ball where he is always on the lookout for spaces to release the ball to a fellow team mate. Xabi Alonso is renowned his long passes and tough tackling in the centre of midfield. While Xavi is more of an attacker and always tries to create space through his passing, Xabi is the responsible for closing down the spaces as seen in the Spanish national team when the two operate as a cohesive unit. Xavi is perfection with passes adjusted to the millimetre and is the compass of the team. Without him, Barcelona would be at a much lower level as his vision and understand with Iniesta and Messi enables the Catalans to play their tiki-taka game. The greatest virtues Xabi Alonso are his positional sense and vision. He is the axis around which Madrid’s game is based while also being proficient from long range. Xavi and Xabi often take charge of the set-pieces for their respective sides and it will be an honour to watch these leaders of their teams in action.
Lionel Messi has always displayed a world-class performance in an El Clasico and was never really bothered by the presence of Sergio Ramos. The Spaniard who has lately been deployed at centre back by Jose Mourinho has improved considerably and it didn’t come as a surprise when he along with Portugal’s Pepe, were the best defenders at Euro 2012. Messi is placed sixth in the El Classico all time goal scoring chart with a total of 13 goals and is the leading scorer amongst active players in La Liga. Ramos needs to mark Messi at all times because if the Argentine gets through its almost impossible to stop him although it’s just the left foot of his that does the talking, the task of defending against him is no mean feat. The last time Madrid visited the Camp Nou, Ramos produced a top notch performance as he allowed Messi zero time to manoeuvre and affect match. He was also dominant aerially and epitomized the grit of the away side. This was in stark contrast to Ramos’ performance in an El Clasico back in November 2010 when he was sent off for a tackle on Messi in the final pasting.