Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have brought in a world-class attacking superstar each this summer to complement their existing stars.
The debate over who is the best player in the world has been a pertinent one over recent seasons, with the footballing community either giving their allegiance to Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. However, both of these Clasico superstars will be backed up by a new immensely talented attacking partner this year, as Barcelona and Real Madrid do battle for domestic and European glory.
Instead of covering old ground in assessing whether Messi or Ronaldo is more effective, what about the newly formed duos?
Lionel Messi and Neymar
Barcelona have in my and many others’ opinions the best player in the world in the form of Lionel Messi – a player who takes games by the scruff of the neck and is virtually unplayable.
Already Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer, the Argentine forward scored an unfathomable 46 goals in 32 La Liga games last season, and has already netted five times in two appearances this term.
Messi, despite his immense dribbling skills and uncanny ability to score, is very much a team player who looks to link up with the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Although he scores a lot of individual goals, the Barcelona footballing mentality is based around one-touch passing and clever movement.
Neymar has shown on the international stage what a talented young player he is, but he will need to be at his best to play a dominant role for a star-studded Barcelona. The Brazil international can be quite a selfish player, and he must get into the mindset of looking for team-mates such as Messi rather than trying to do everything himself in Spain.
At 21 years old he is the youngest of the four superstars and has a lot of learning left to do. The Catalan club will look to harness his immense technical ability and bring it in line with their tiki-taka style of play, and if they achieve it Neymar’s partnership with Messi could be all but unstoppable.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale
Huge amounts of expectation will be placed on Bale’s shoulders after a world record transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid this summer. The Wales international will play alongside a player with similar physical abilities in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, and it will be interesting to see just how they play together.
Ronaldo has been the main man at the Santiago Bernabeu since moving from Manchester United and will remain so regardless of Bale’s addition. The Portuguese superstar is the all-round athlete and brings an outstanding amount of trickery to the table also – outside of Messi he is the best in the world, and there is an argument to suggest that he can be more effective than the Barca man in certain games.
The ex-Tottenham man has displayed similar direct attributes to his new team-mate such as pace, power and incredible shooting ability. With the pair most likely starting on a flank each, they may well try and outdo themselves with their individual brilliance. However, if Carlo Ancelotti can get them singing of the same hymn sheet, it is a frightening prospect.
It is a tough decision that could go either way, just as the Messi-Ronaldo debate.
Ronaldo and Bale will rip opposing defences apart this term but will need to learn to work together if they are to win the big games. If they strike up an understanding and become compatible despite their similarities, the all-elusive Decima could be on its way to the Spanish capital.
However, personally I feel the Barcelona pair have the edge slightly, largely due to the Argentine’s ability to win a game single-handedly but also his selflessness to bring others into the game. With the unbelievably talented Neymar another top-drawer player to support Messi, Barcelona will take some stopping this term.
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