A game apart in the hearts of football fans, FC Barcelona receives Real Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday for the first clasico of the 2021/2022 season. The first also without Messi, left this summer at PSG.
First Ronaldo left and then it was the turn, this summer, of Lionel Messi. The Barcelona-Real Madrid clasico, Sunday, October 22, in La Liga marks the end of an era for football in the Pyrenees and will illustrate its renewal with a passing of the torch between the thirty-something Gérard Piqué and Karim Benzema to the young shoots Ansu Fati and Eduardo Camavinga.
On the one hand, the almost teenagers Eduardo Camavinga, Ansu Fati, Pedri, Gavi, Miguel Gutierrez, Vinicius, Rodrygo, Eric Garcia, Sergino Dest, all under the age of 21. On the other, the experienced Karim Benzema, Gérard Piqué, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Marcelo, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Sergio Agüero, who have all passed their thirties.
Ten years separate these two generations of stars of the Spanish championship. One rubbed shoulders with the golden age embodied by the rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The other has a page of history to write.
Sunday, for this first clasico since “Leo” and “CR7” left Spain, it will be up to young contenders Ansu Fati (who has just extended to Barça until 2027) and Vinicius (who has just scored a double in Champions League Tuesday) to raise the glove.
“We no longer have Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, they will be missed on Sunday more than ever, but the level of our football is always a safe bet”, warned in an editorial Alfredo Relano, honorary president of the Madrid sports daily As.
However, this passing of the baton between the generation of Spanish world champions in 2010 with Piqué and Busquets and that of the “Dream Teen”, the communication slogan launched by Barça to qualify its new wave of young talents, did not materialize. not done without a drop in speed which somewhat damaged the prestige of the clasico.
“We are in the midst of a transition,” Relano qualified for AFP. “Not long ago, there were still two fantastic players here. Between Barça and Real, there were Casillas, Puyol, Sergio Ramos, Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso … Players who were world champions with Spain So yes, of course, we have regressed, “admits this respected voice of Spanish football.
“I remember one year (2012), in Fifa’s best eleven, there were five Real players, five Barça players, and Falcao, who played at Atlético Madrid. It was a sensational period for the ‘Spain. Now the prestige of that time, having Messi, Cristiano, and so many world champions on one pitch … It’s not going to happen again anytime soon. given, it was obligatory, “argues the columnist.
Gavi vs. Camavinga
Bogged down in big financial and sporting difficulties, Barça made the strategic choice to turn to its very famous training center, La Masia, to try to return to the front of the Spanish and European stage.
Barcelona have become one of Spain’s youngest teams, averaging 25.4 years old, almost two years younger than Real. Five players of the eleven-type of Ronald Koeman are aged 20 years or less: the muse Ansu Fati, but also Gavi, Sergino Dest, Eric Garcia and Pedri, affected in the left thigh and which may be too fair on Sunday.
A decade separates them from Piqué, Sergio Busquets or Marc-André ter Stegen, the managers of the Blaugrana locker room.
On the Madrid side, the veterans are resisting: the “White House” still has one of the best midfielders in the world, with thirty-something Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro, as well as a candidate for the Ballon d’Or in attack, Karim Benzema.
But Carlo Ancelotti, and before him Zinédine Zidane, pushed to try to install young people in key positions. The Italian said he was “surprised” at the start of the season by the quality of Madrid’s young talents, and said he spoke “almost every day” with Raul, the coach of the reserve team.
Sunday, it is the team that will have best succeeded in its intergenerational handover that will be crowned queen of the clasico.