No Messi or Ronaldo; who will be the El Clasico hero?
For the first time since December 2007, neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will feature in an El Clasico.
Sunday’s showdown between Barcelona and Real Madrid will take place without the two men who have taken the fixture to new levels of global appeal in the last 10 years.
Ronaldo left Madrid last summer to join Juventus, while Messi misses out after suffering a fractured arm last weekend.
The duo leave big shoes to be filled, but ahead of this weekend’s first meeting of the season, we’ve picked out three men who could step up and become an El Clasico hero…
When Real chose not to replace Ronaldo in the off-season, the goal-scoring burden and accompanying pressure fell to Gareth Bale.
The Welshman was poised to leave himself at the end of last season, after three years of being in Zinedine Zidane’s second string.
Bale has only scored twice against Barca in nine appearances, but nothing would endear him more to the Real fans and cement his place as Ronaldo’s successor than an El Clasico worldie this weekend.
Doubtless Dembele’s time will come, but the forward has only shone glimpse of his precocious ability in Barcelona colours. He has spent much of his time in Messi’s shadow.
He started the season brightly with three goals in the opening four games, but now has to step up and be counted in Messi’s absence.
Dembele has the ability, but this will be his El Clasico debut. Will he become an instant hit?
Barcelona have seen both Xavi and Andres Iniesta move on, but in Arthur the Catalan giants have found their next midfield star.
The 22-year-old joined from Gremio and has been eased into the first-team action this term. He impressed hugely in the Champions League win over Tottenham Hotspur however, and looks comfortable at this level.
Xavi and Iniesta dictated many an El Clasico in their heyday, now Barca will be hoping Arthur can do the same.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication