Sunday’s La Liga match between Barcelona and Real Madrid will be the 247th El Clasico fixture but the decline of both clubs
The two traditional giants are firmly established as being among the leading clubs on the planet in terms of success, history and their huge global fanbase.
In the past decade it was also the match that produced the highest quality encounters between two sides who dominated Spanish and European football.
Real Madrid won four Champions League titles between 2014 and 2018 with Barcelona lifting the trophy on four occasions between 2006 and 2015, a period of dominance for Spain.
Yet the ever cyclical nature of football and fluidity of clubs at the top of the game means that both clubs have slid behind other major challengers and are now in somewhat of a transition period.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – considered the greatest players in world football for upwards of a decade – now play at Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United respectively, with a host of other stars now moved on.
Neymar, Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann, Dani Alves, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, James Rodriguez, Angel di Maria and Xabi Alonso were among those involved when both sides were at their peak but have since moved on.
Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have a new generation of stars ahead of Sunday’s clash, but both sides are now populated by players who have plenty of potential or who are in the autumn of their careers.
Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos are among the regular starters who are now well into their 30s, with a host of teenage prodigies in the starting ranks.
For so long this was the fixture between the two most valuable squads on the planet but not only is that no longer the case, but the game is not even in the 20 most highly valued domestic matches on the planet.
18 of the most expensive domestic fixtures involving English teams, with only Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid (combined cost of £1.35billion) and Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund (£1.29billion) entering the top 20.
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Manchester United vs Liverpool, which will overlap with Sunday’s El Clasico, is ranked in fifth place with a £1.59billion valuation.
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