4 Biggest Differences Between the Workings of Barcelona and Real Madrid

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2013

4 Biggest Differences Between the Workings of Barcelona and Real Madrid

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    Manchester City was this week revealed, by Sporting Intelligence, as the best sports club in the world to earn your living.

    It's not hard to see why recent recruits like Jesus Navas and Fernandinho opted to head to the North West of England when the average weekly salary per player is $154,990—the L.A. Dodgers was the second best destination at $143,632.

    Just off the pace, in third and fourth place, were Real Madrid ($139,562) and Barcelona ($138,741). Supposedly, the decision for the player would come down to whether it's worth a $15,000 raise to live in Manchester over the Spanish capital or on the Catalan coast.

    Without thinking too deeply about it, you'd perhaps expect Madrid to spend a lot more on wages than Barcelona. So, seeing as they don't, what are the main differences between the two clubs?

Youth Emphasis

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    The staple of the Barcelona side is made up from graduates of La Masia. So much so that in one match against Levante this season, all 11 players on the pitch, at one point, had come from the club's youth farm.

    As famous as La Masia is, it's not always been as effective as it is now. For example, in the 2000s, the club relied heavily on Dutch imports.

    Nowadays, they are much happier to put faith in their youngsters.

    Real Madrid's use of their young players is less allowing, although there are signs at the moment—Alvaro Morata, Dani Carvajal, Nacho Fernandez, Jese Rodriguez—that things may be altered slightly over the coming seasons.

    Of the Spain squad who have traveled for the Confederations Cup, nine have come through the ranks at Barcelona, while eight still pull on La Blaugrana's jersey. Four have come through at Madrid, but just two remain at the Bernabeu. 

Manager Rate

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    Over the last 10 years, particularly prior to Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid have favored a high turnover in managers.

    Since Vicente del Bosque departed in 2003, the following 10 seasons have seen 10 different managers—none of them able to deliver the club's 10th Champions League.

    In the same period, Barcelona have used just three managers, with the last two appointments being internal; Frank Rijkaard (2003 to 2008), Josep Guardiola (2008 to 2012) and currently Tito Vilanova (since 2012). 

Transfer Policy

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    While Real Madrid are famed for being big spenders, Barcelona's outgoings do tend to come under less scrutiny. That said, there are clear differences in policies.

    Where Los Blancos favor what has become known as a "galactico," their Catalan rivals prefer someone with either a clear style or a past connection with the club.

    For example, Madrid sign Sergio Ramos or Raul Albiol; Barca bring home Gerard Pique. Madrid sign Marcelo, Fabio Coentrao or Mesut Ozil; Barca bring home Jordi Alba or Cesc Fabregas.

    There are anomalies, though, and Barca have been stung quite a few times spending big in the transfer market. Dmytro Chygrynskiy and Keirrison, among others, spring to mind.

    Already during this transfer window, we have seen the biggest juxtaposition of them all: On the day Barca unveiled Neymar, Real Madrid brought home Dani Carvajal. 

Playing Style

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    Depending on the direction in which Real Madrid's new manager opts to take them, this could quickly change, but recent seasons have seen the two clubs operate starkly different styles.

    Barcelona have relied on their tried-and-tested, you-pass-I'll-move system known the world over as "tiki-taka," which has led to a clamor of clubs around the world seeking to copy and paste it.

    Los Blancos, mainly as a Jose Mourinho side, have played a style to oppose that, operating in a way that sees them reliant on the likes of Angel di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo to produce breathtaking counterattacking football.