The biggest club game in world football is a truly global spectacle, not only off the pitch but on it too: players from 16 different countries feature in the Real Madrid and Barcelona squads set to face off on Saturday.
Hundreds of millions of football fans from all over the world will be tuning in to watch the second LaLiga Santander El Clasico of the 2018/19 season, with Barcelona set to visit Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu this Saturday. It’s a game that has a truly international flavour both on and off the pitch.
El Clasico features the very best players from all over the world. In fact, there are 16 different nationalities represented between the two great rivals’ squads, featuring the very best players from across Europe, Africa, Central America and South America.
Specifically, the 16 nations with players in the current Barcelona and Real Madrid squads are Spain, Brazil, France, Germany, Wales, Belgium, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Argentina, Portugal, Chile, Holland, Colombia and Ghana.
Spain is the nation with the most representatives; Real Madrid have 12 Spanish players in their squad, while Barcelona have six. Following Spain are France and Brazil, each boasting seven players, conjuring up some interesting duels between players who won the 2018 World Cup together. Barcelona have Samuel Umtiti, Clément Lenglet, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembélé on their books, while Real Madrid have Luca Zidane, Raphaël Varane and Karim Benzema. For LaLiga fans in the South American nation, they’ll see Real Madrid stars Marcelo, Casemiro and Vinícius Junior taking on Blaugrana foes but compatriots Arthur, Rafinha, Philippe Coutinho and Malcom.
There’s also a lot of interesting symmetry when looking at the other nations represented at the Camp Nou and the Santiago Bernabéu. Both clubs have one German, in Marc-André ter Stegen and Toni Kroos. Both have a Croatian midfielder, in dynamic duo Ivan Rakitić and Luka Modrić. Both also have a Belgian whose job it is to prevent goals, in Thomas Vermaelen and Thibaut Courtois, and both have a player from Uruguay, in Luis Suárez and Fede Valverde.
Adding to the international flavour, Barcelona have Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Portugal’s Nélson Semedo, Chile’s Arturo Vidal, Colombia’s Jeison Murillo, Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng and Holland’s Jasper Cillessen, while Real Madrid can call upon Gareth Bale of Wales, Mariano Díaz of the Dominican Republic and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica.
El Clasico is a truly global game, perhaps best evidenced by the fact that all six goals in the first LaLiga encounter between Real Madrid and Barça this season were netted by South Americans. Who knows which nationalities will be on the score sheet this Saturday?