El Clásico friendly. Two words I never thought I would see together. It's an oxymoron. El Clásico by definition can't be a friendly. It's a constant war raging over almost a century, with 266 individual battles so far. On Sunday, we will witness the 267th addition of the world's most famous rivalry.
In this media and money driven world, it was almost inevitable that this day would come. This match will bring tens, maybe hundreds, of millions of viewers all over the world and everybody will make ungodly amount of money from this match.
I'm sure this game will be one of the highlights of the summer for our American friends and fans of soccer all over the world, but Madridistas and Cules aren't really looking forward to this match, because nothing truly good can come out of it. A win is meaningless as it doesn't give a trophy, but a loss will always be scrutinized by the media to an insane level. In the immortal words of Vincent Kompany:
It's a friendly when you lose, it's a game that matters when you win.. In any event, happy with today's display. Making progress. #ManCity— Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) July 27, 2017
Cool. Anyway, I digress.
Every Clásico is a high-octane spectacle full of emotions and controversies. Therefore, it's not an ideal scenario at all for a pre-season game, in which the most important thing is for players to get match fit and not get injured. That's why some fans were calling for a second-string lineup with Castilla and Juvenil A kids. Sadly, this won't happen as Franchu, Quezada, Dani Gómez and Manu Hernando left the first team and joined Castilla.
Zidane will have the opportunity to use this match to give more valuable minutes to his first choice starting lineup and frankly, it's about time they get going, because the first official game of the season is dangerously close (UEFA Supercup - Manchester United, 8/8/2017) and the performances of some players against Manchester City were a bit underwhelming.
From Barcelona's perspective, this match might have grave consequences. It hasn't been even full two weeks since the first rumours about Neymar joining PSG in a 222mil deal emerged. This shocked the world, even though PSG were linked with Neymar in previous years. However, this time it felt real. The news came from respectable sources and they were all saying the same - Neymar will join PSG. Now, the same sources are saying that the transfer will be made official after Barcelona's US pre-season tour and therefore, this Clásico will be Neymar's last game.
In theory, we shouldn't really care that much about this game, because in just two weeks, we will have two Clásicos in the Spanish Super Cup. And those two games will matter, because the second potential trophy of the season is on the line.
However, it's still a Clásico, so I, like many other fans, will get up at an ungodly hour to watch this game, with the hope of seeing Real Madrid crush Barcelona and their dreams.
Navas; Carvajal - Varane - Nacho - Marcelo; Casemiro - Isco - Modric - Kovacic; Bale, Benzema
How to watch online
Time: 2am CEST (7/30/2017), 8pm EST, 11pm PST.
Venue: Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, USA.
TV: ESPN (USA), Premier Sports (UK), Cuatro + TV3 (Spain).
Streaming: WATCH ESPN (USA).
Prediction: Real Madrid 1 - 1 Barcelona (Benzema, Neymar).