Tag: El Clasico

Patrick Kluivert: Champions League title better than domestic double

FC Barcelona legend Patrick Kluivert has said that Real Madrid will have had a better season than Barca if they can clinch a third successive Champions League.

The former Dutch international striker said that a Champions League win would eclipse Barca’s domestic double ahead of El Clasico.

He had previously won Europe’s premier club competition with Ajax in 1995 and said that it is the biggest achievement in football.

“The Champions League is the biggest award any club can win but it is very hard,” Kluivert said. “Winning a double is good as well but winning the Champions League is better. I would prefer to play a UCL final and win it because if you lose it and you don’t have a double, it is not good either.”

“Real Madrid are playing well and they always do what they have to do. The Champions League is the most important title, but if Real Madrid don’t win it, it will be much harder next season.”

Ahead of El Clasico, Kluivert also spoke about the two teams and their star players.

“First of all, Messi is the best for me but he can’t do it all alone; let me think about it because I don’t want to say anything I could regret! Barcelona is Barcelona and Madrid is Madrid, one can win UCL and the other has a double, all of them play for victories.”

 

“Messi and Ronaldo are different players, both in the highest level and each one deserves good words from everyone. But Messi was born with an impressive talent; Ronaldo did too, but he had to work harder to reach that level.”

Valverde insists Clasico will not decide fate of La Liga title

FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has insisted the Clasico game away to Real Madrid next Saturday would not be a decisive point for the La Liga race this season.

Real Madrid, double winners last season have struggled in the first half of 2017-18 and sit fourth in the table, and earning all three points at the Santiago Bernabeu would be a huge boost to the Barca title challenge.

However, Valverde, speaking after his team’s 4-0 win at home to Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday, played down the significance of the eagerly anticipated clash and remains wary of another challenger to the title in Atletico Madrid.

“I don’t think a Clasico victory will give us the title,” he said. “Atletico are only six points behind. What we know is that this is a long competition, nobody will decide anything at this point.”

“We’re heading into the game happy; we have a week of preparation left and are confident. It’s a tough game against a huge rival, but we’re eager to face them.”

Against Deportivo, Valverde withdrew Andres Iniesta early in the second half to preserve the veteran midfielder for the trip to the Spanish capital next weekend. He was also delighted with the contribution of the veteran who contributed to the opening goal of the game at Camp Nou.

“What can I say? I’m very lucky to be able to count on him in my team,” Valverde added. “Today he started in a different position because of Deportivo’s qualities, (but) Andres played extremely well in that role.”

Valverde had also rested Sergio Busquets so that he would not miss next week’s Clasico due to yellow card accumulation, while braces from Luis Suarez and Paulinho ensured that FC Barca would arrive to El Clasico with an 11-point lead after a 4-0 win over Deportivo

Captain Ramos there to save Madrid again

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos pulled out his trademark habit of scoring late and crucial equalizers once again to settle the latest El Clasico in a 1-1 draw.

The match as heading into its last minute and Real Madrid were facing the end of a 32-game unbeaten run, when the man who rescued them in the 94th minute of the 2014 Champions League final leapt to head in another Luka Modric delivery and score another dramatic equaliser.

Ramos, 30, is establishing a reputation for scoring crucial late goals in big games socring the aforementioned equaliser against Atletico Madrid to send the 2014 Champions League final into extra time, which Real won  4-1. More recently, he forced extra time again with a stoppage-time equaliser in the 2016 Super Cup final, which Real also went on to win.

However, the latest fixture between Spain’s two biggest clubs appeared to slip away Real’s grasp after they dominated the first half, with FC Barcelona leading 1-0 through Luis Suarez’s own header albeit unable to add to it.

Even after Ramos’s vital equalizer, Casemiro had to clear off the line to defend a precious point which also extends Madrid’s steady run in La Liga and maintained a six-point lead at the top.

“In games like this, Sergio is always there,” Los Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane said. “(But) the thing that stands out, again, is this team’s heart. We believed right until the end and got a draw that is very important.”

It had been a big test of character for Zidane and his players, and they emerged from it undamaged by displaying steely determination and never-say-die spirit –something that was sorely missing before Zidane’s arrival.

His tactics are also proving influential in his team’s revival, as Real nullified Barca’s attacking threat in the first half, with Luka Modric influential in central midfield alongside Mateo Kovacic on the left and Isco on the right.

Real also claims a commendable 87 points from a possible 102 since the Frenchman took charge, which includes four from a possible six at Camp Nou.