Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Why El Clasico Final Is What Champions League Needs

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterApril 23, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 21: Cristiano Ronaldo (L) of Real Madrid CF heads the ball beside Carles Puyol (#5) of FC Barcelona during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou on April 21, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Two days later, the fallout from El Clasico lingers.

Real Madrid beat Barca, Ronaldo topped Messi, and it all means everything or nothing, depending on which team you support.

In one corner, one group knows Real are the best—soon to be champions of Spain and by extension the best in the world.

And Ronaldo—with his 42 league goals, one better than Messi, mind you—is playing better than any other player on Earth.

In the other corner, another group knows Barca are the best—second, granted, in Spain, but also Copa del Rey finalists and still European title holders.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 18:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks on during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on April 18, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

And Lionel Messi—with his 63 goals in all competitions this season alone—starts and finishes the shortlist for world's greatest player.

Both camps could still be right. But only for a little while longer.

Saturday's Clasico was only one game, and only one trophy has been decided (even if it technically hasn't yet). Barcelona's Copa run remains alive, and both teams still have a chance to claim Europe's ultimate prize next month in Munich.

As Sid Lowe writes in The Guardian, Clasicos tend to inspire "sweeping, dramatic conclusions." But while Saturday provided one conclusion, another remains.

The league is the title that, in theory at least, most defines which is the better side, even though it is the European Cup they both want above all, and fundamentally Madrid have won the league because they are extremely strong: the side that went to Camp Nou cost over €400 million, and the work they have done under the Portuguese coach … has been effective.

Effectiveness and efficiency have all but won the league title for Real. But if the arguments—Real or Barca? Messi or Ronaldo?—are ever going to end (and they probably won't), one more bout, a one-off, neutral-site grudge match, is necessary.

It's time to settle this. If the Clasico final happens, this would be the one we've all—outside Stamford Bridge and Allianz Arena—been waiting for.