Why El Clasico is not the same anymore
El Clasico is one of the most iconic rivalries in the history of football. It attracts hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide whenever the two teams -- Barcelona and Real Madrid -- lock horns with each other.
Both clubs have a rich history, legacy and heritage. After all, some of the most renowned and decorated names in world football have played for the two teams over the years. However, the rivalry has lost some of its essence and charm of late. Various factors are responsible for that but we list some of the main reasons below.
Cristiano Ronaldo's departure and lack of other inside battles
There is no doubt that El Clasico always had its own charm but nobody can deny that the rivalry between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi gave it a completely different meaning. Both of them are two of the most popular faces on this planet and the competition between their respective fanbases made the contest far more attractive. It lasted for a total of nine years until Ronaldo made the move to Juventus in 2018.
Apart from him, there were other legends like Xabi Alonso, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta among others, who were involved in their own little battles during the match as well. But with most of them retired now, there has hardly been anyone who has shown the ability to match their skills. Sergio Ramos vs Gerard Pique used to be another intriguing battle between the two defenders but it's not the same now with Pique undergoing a massive dip in form.
Even Luis Suarez made a move from Barcelona to Atletico Madrid at the start of this season and that brought an end to the duel he had with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema as well. So the end of all these small little subplots has resulted in the drop in intensity and charm of the entire contest.
Neither club at their peak
The departure and retirement of star players from both the clubs mean that transformation hasn't been easy for either of them. Both of the clubs have gone through one of the most turbulent periods in the history of their existence of late. Barcelona's 2-8 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals last season still haunts them. They couldn't retain their La Liga title either and to rub salt into their wounds further, they lost the most recent El Clasico by a 1-3 scoreline to Real Madrid, that too at Camp Nou.
Real Madrid haven't gone through the best period either. Even though they were crowned the La Liga champions in the previous season, recent results suggest that they still have plenty to improve upon. In the last few days, they have lost 1-0 to Cadiz -- a side playing in the La Liga for the first time in 15 years, and that was followed by a 3-2 defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in their opening Champions League fixture at home. The El Clasico win though has brought some much-needed relief for them.
Deteriorating Barcelona-Messi relations
The relationship between Barcelona and Lionel Messi has deteriorated a lot in recent times. The Argentine great has expressed his desire to leave the club a number of times since the latter stages of the previous season but he has been forced to stay at Camp Nou due to contractual obligations. The result of that is clearly visible in his performances as we can clearly see a dip in his intensity on the field. He has scored only on two occasions this season and both of them have resulted from penalties. Messi has openly clarified that he still remains motivated to bring success to Barcelona despite his falling out with the management. But that's easier said than done when the heart already wants to move away.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter.com / @realmadriden