For several years now, Barcelona’s Spanish contingent has been the backbone of the current European and World Cup-winning national side. Real Madrid’s recent purchases of Isco, Asier Illarramendi and Dani Carvajal suggest the capital city side is bidding to be the home for Spanish internationals for the decade to come.
This brings up a fascinating hypothetical battle. What would happen if Spain’s big two went face-to-face in the new season with no foreign players allowed? That means no Cristiano Ronaldo, no Leo Messi, no Neymar and no Karim Benzema.
Here is an alternate dimension idea of what the outcome would be.
Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes
No thorny selection problems here. Unless Valdes decides to leave this summer rather than next year, that is. Then again, Jose Pinto would be between the sticks, and the keeper is not as bad as many—often the Barca fans—are keen to make out.
Defence: Martin Montoya, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba
Aside from the introduction of Montoya into the right-back position to take over from the very Brazilian Dani Alves, the back four is pretty much as-is. And that means vulnerable. Whether or not Real Madrid’s all-Spanish attack is able to take advantage of the holes that will inevitably open up is debatable, though.
Midfield: Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez
Merciful Zeus! There are no issues here in finding ham-eating, Spanish-passport-holding footballers in the team’s three-man midfield. This is a trio that has won trophies galore and would cause no end of problems to the opposition from beginning to end.
Attack: Cristian Tello, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro
The departure of David Villa means that Barcelona do not really have a goal-getting striker in the squad anymore, of any nationality. This sees Cesc Fabregas slotting into the false-nine slot, backed up by Pedro on the right and Tello darting in on the left.
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas
This is no time to be in the Jose Mourinho camp and relegate the club captain to the bench. In a contest pitching Spaniard against Spaniard, the country’s No. 1 will be needed to lead Real Madrid’s through a fairly tricky encounter in so many ways.
Defence: Dani Carvajal, Raul Albiol, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa
The Barca back four looks better on paper, but this is a sprightly looking defence, with Ramos in the middle being the highlight. New arrival Carvajal, at right-back, should keep Alba on the opposite flank busy in an area where the two flying defenders may cancel each other out.
Midfield: Asier Illarramendi, Xabi Alonso, Jose Rodriguez
The sale of Jose Callejon to Napoli sees Madrid a little short in the midfield department.
New signing Illarramendi and Xabi Alonso are all fine and dandy, but Carlo Ancelotti will need to dip into the youth side for a midfielder to make up the numbers. For this reason Jose Rodriquez, who found fame in the early part of last season when starting in the Copa del Rey for Madrid, will help keep things ticking over and help out the back four. The 18-year-old is certainly going to be busy though minding a World Cup-winning midfield to be found amongst the opposition numbers.
Attack: Isco, Alvaro Morata, Jese Rodriguez
Madrid have one advantage over Barcelona in that they have a proper, old-fashioned No. 9 up front in the form of U-21 international Alvaro Morata. However, it is a forward trio that could still do with another couple of years' brewing time with all three footballers needing more matches in their boots.
In stark contrast, Barcelona’s front three have been there, seen it, bought the T-shirt and taken the trophy home.
Real Madrid’s Spanish XI is a mixture of the very experienced, promising and still very raw. However, it is an outfit that would give most La Liga teams a decent run for their money. Barcelona, though, have a side that would still be front-runners for the league title, even without Messi.
Who would be the winner?
A 3-1 win to the Camp Nou club looks a likely result in what would be a rather awesome all-Spanish battle.