Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Who Will Neutral Fans Be Supporting in El Clásico?

Manuel TraqueteSenior Analyst INovember 25, 2010

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid: Who Will Neutral Fans Be Supporting in El Clásico?

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    El Clásico is undoubtedly the biggest football match of the season. The two biggest and most popular European clubs, the best players in the world, the two managers of the moment... Barcelona and Real Madrid have a combined 90 million fans only across Europe, but it's safe to assume that the entire football world will be watching El Clásico next Monday and rooting for one of the teams.

    Monday's Clásico will not decide the league, but it will give the winner a definite psychological edge for the rest of the season.

    With the match approaching, I decided to find out who neutral fans are going to be supporting. I managed to get contributions from 12 Bleacher Report writers, from seven different clubs: two Arsenal supporters, one Bayern Munich supporter, two Chelsea supporters, one Inter Milan supporter, two Manchester United supporters, one AC Milan supporter and two Tottenham supporters. I also tried to get contributes from some other clubs' supporters, but they didn't show interest/availability.

    Still, these 12 writers have given top notch contributions, thus making this one a great piece. I wish I could take credit for this article, but all credit must go to these 12 brilliant writers, some of the best football writers on Bleacher Report:

    Chris Forero - Arsenal supporter. Chris hasn't written many articles nor has he got many reads, but that doesn't mean that he is not a great writer. His pieces are excellent and definitely a great read.

    Vijay Murali - Arsenal supporter and Featured Columnist. Just like myself, Vijay joined Bleacher Report in July (he published his first article on July 14, while I did on July 13) but he quickly became one of the most active and brilliant writers in the football community. His input on Arsenal is always top notch, but he also excels in non Arsenal-related pieces.

    Samrin Hasib - Bayern Munich supporter and Featured Columnist. The Bundesliga isn't very covered here on Bleacher Report, which means Samrin practically runs that section. Her articles on Bayern Munich and the Bundesliga are always quite insightful.

    Salomon Gonzales - Chelsea supporter. Unfortunately, Salomon hasn't been writing much in the last few months, which meant that when I got to Bleacher Report I didn't have many opportunities to read his new pieces. Still, a quick search through his article archive left me with no doubt about the quality of his work.

    Saura Bhattacharjee - Chelsea supporter and Featured Columnist. His articles are known for creating long and interesting debates and sometimes controversy among the Arsenal community. He has recently promoted some very interesting round table articles.

    Sanat Talmaki - Inter Milan supporter and Featured Columnist. Sanat also writes about different sports on occasions, namely cycling and Formula 1.

    Kaustav Bose - Liverpool supporter and Featured Columnist. Kaustav's pieces on Liverpool are always top notch and very thought-provoking. He's the most active Liverpool writer on this site.

    Andrew Jordan - Manchester United supporter and World Football Featured Columnist. Andrew needs no introductions. He has written over 400 articles and is one of the most read writers in the football section. His lists are particularly brilliant and very interesting.

    Yoosof Farah - Manchester United and Gillingham FC supporter as well as Aston Villa Featured Columnist. Yoosof also needs no introductions. He has been writing for over two years and his stats suggest that pretty much everyone enjoys his pieces. His tactical knowledge is unmatched, which reflects on his articles.

    Tim Fontenault - AC Milan supporter and Featured Columnist. The first thing I ever did on Bleacher Report (on the day I created my account) was argue with Tim over an article he had written and which I heavily criticized. Having also joined in July, Tim was only starting and he quickly proved my criticism unfounded. Tim's pieces are interesting and insightful and for anyone interested in AC Milan-related input, Tim is definitely the go-to guy around here.

    James Willis - Tottenham Hotspur supporter. James's articles are not very read, but they are undoubtedly excellent. One of his articles is probably the most original piece I've ever come across on Bleacher Report.

    Willie Gannon - Tottenham Hotspur supporter. Willie has been on Bleacher Report for over two years and written near 500 articles. He's undoubtedly one of the top writers in this site, as proved by the fact that he is a Featured writer in many other football sites.

Chris Forero (Arsenal FC)

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    Between Real Madrid and Barcelona, I always support Barcelona. My dislike for Real Madrid is three-fold.

    1. I can’t support a team that was once associated with the Dictator Franco.

    2. Barcelona is the epitome of team futbol.

    3. I can’t respect a team like Real Madrid who builds through constant buying/selling players. I don’t see the sense of accomplishment in winning trophies by a team that merely buys the best players in the world for the sake of marketing.

    I think the final result will be 2-1 for Barcelona.

Vijay Murali (Arsenal FC)

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    I am supporting Real Madrid because I am a huge fan of Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil, and I have huge respect for Jose Mourinho. Mourinho is one of the most inspirational managers ever, and it is hard to envisage his teams conceding defeat to anyone in the world without giving a fight.

    Barcelona play a silky passing game, but Real themselves play quite attractive attacking football, which has not always been associated with Mourinho’s previous teams. As an Arsenal fan, I have been utterly shocked by the disrespect shown by Barcelona to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal with regard to the Cesc Fabregas issue, and it is hard for me to support them.

    El Clasico will be crucial in deciding the outcome of the La Liga, and I am sure the two teams will give their all to earn three points. I will be supporting Real Madrid and expect the game to be a thrilling encounter.

    Both Real Madrid and Barcelona are in good form, winning easily in recent encounters, and will be confident going into the game. In my opinion, Jose Mourinho will be the key to Real Madrid’s fortunes on Monday, because his tactical decisions will have an impact on the outcome of the game.

    The game will see the some of the brightest talents in the world on display, and it could be one moment of brilliance which could seperate the two teams.

    Prediction: Barcelona 1, Real Madrid 2

Samrin Hasib (Bayern Munich)

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    I will be supporting Real Madrid whole-heartedly. Barcelona evokes bad memories. They beat Bayern badly in 2009 and Bayern lost the Champions League final against Man United at the Nou Camp in 1999.

    Real Madrid consists of German stars in Mesut Oezil and Sami Khedira. Bayern and Real share a good relationship and the two clubs have played each other quite a few times in European competition. Roy Makaay also scored the fastest Champions League goal ever for Bayern against Real Madrid.

    Barcelona tried to take Philipp Lahm away in 2008 and Dani Alves made some very disrespectful comments about Bayern in the same year.

    My prediction is 2-0 to Real Madrid.

Kaustav Bose (Liverpool FC)

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    Liverpool are neutral to  "El Clásico,” which otherwise is a huge matchup in world club football.

    I personally will support Barcelona in the fixture. The reason is simple : Jose Mourinho. Even though Real Madrid boasts of former Liverpool stars like Xabi Alonso and Arbeloa, they are just considered pawns and if Real emerges victorius, all the credit will go Mourinho’s way.

    It may be because the recent results of the the "El Clásico" have gone the way of the Catalans, that a Real win may be credited to Mourinho, but I for one think that the man is a little over-hyped and has had a better run of luck than most imagine.

    There are also some more reasons why even as a Liverpool fan, I cannot side with Mourinho. Only a few days back, Jose had reportedly stated in the press that Liverpool had gone worse every year in a footballing sense after 2004 and that he would never want to manage Liverpool. Really Jose ? If we have gone worse, how did we end up second in 2008-09 ?

    He further went on give cues as to how he would love to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at United. All these add up a lot of negative sentiment in the minds of the Liverpool fans like me. Whether it be the indomitable nature of the Reds when it came to facing Mourinho’s Chelsea or whatever, Jose has chosen to become an anti-Liverpool in his own rights and is begging for this type of a response.

    From the footballing aspect though, both Real and Barcelona are wonderfully talented teams and should present us with a wonderful display. However, the presence of the enigmatic Messi and Villa on the side of the Catalans should give them an edge and even defensively speaking, Real seem weaker.

    Going by the foresaid, I would go for a Barca win. A 2-1 win will be a good enough prediction.

Salomon Gonzales (Chelsea FC)

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    My heart is leaning towards Real Madrid. This is only because my heart still has Jose Mourinho firmly placed in it. Any other coach and I would love to see this new bunch of expensively assembled superstars get beaten.

    Barcelona fans come across as arrogant. Maybe they have the right to given that they’ve won everything there is to win in the past two seasons and the fact that they did it with such brilliant grace & style but I guess it’s best to leave this debate for another day.

    Being a neutral, watching one team dominate all the time gets boring, therefore my head is also leaning towards Real Madrid. It’s tough to predict a match of such massive importance but I'm going to do it anyway:

    Barcelona 2, Real Madrid 3

Saura Bhattacharjee (Chelsea FC)

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    I will be supporting Barcelona in El Clásico. The reason being I hate Real Madrid for its star-studded squad without any positive result. I am simply a Messi fan and will be looking to the Argentine wizard score a hat trick against the Bernabeu giants.

Sanat Talmaki (Inter Milan)

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    I will be supporting Real Madrid in the Clásico as it seems as though they have developed a defensive strength that was quite lacking in seasons past. Ronaldo is also on form and that is always a plus.

    While Barca racked up 8 goals over the weekend, they somehow seem more fragile than last season.

    I would see Madrid winning 2-1.

Andrew Jordan (Manchester United)

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    Well, I am supporting Barcelona due to the attractive football they play.

    Considering that Barcelona have won the last four Clásicos and my belief that they are the best club side in the world at this moment, I predict Barcelona will succeed once again, this time by a 3-1 score.

Yoosof Farah (Manchester United)

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    I'll be supporting Barcelona, because they play far more attractive football than Mourinho's boring, simply efficient Real Madrid. Whilst Real do grab the goals and please their ever-so demanding Madridistas, the fluidity in its game is lacking.

    Barca on the other hand, play the real Spanish way, passing the ball around with fluid play, working its way along before slicing open the opposition defence, which is one of the reasons Lionel Messi is able to get so many goals.

    Actually, you could say that with all the Catalans in its team, it is Spain who play the Catalan way! In any case, I back Messi to continue to his fine form, David Villa to get involved as well, and FC Barcelona to get a 3-1 or 3-2 win in front of los culés!

Tim Fontenault (AC Milan)

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    As an AC Milan fan, I make sure that my primary objective for the footballing weekend is to watch the Rossoneri, but I always look to see what big games are on. I always know when Barcelona and Real Madrid square off. It’s such a fun game to watch!

    When it comes to which I will support, I look at a few factors:

    1) Which would I rather watch consistently?
    2) Which do I believe is on the better track as a club?
    3) Which group of players command my respect more?
    4) Which coach do I idolize?

    When the club I’m sitting down to watch a match for is not my favorite club, this is how I usually make my decision. One of the top teams on my list, if not the highest, is Barcelona.

    Their squad is legendary! All world-class players. The best part is to watch the guys, like Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Bojan, Pedro, Puyol, Valdes, Busquets, and Suarez, who all came up through the Barcelona system.

    The Blaugrana have done very little external development. Even manager Pep Guardiola, who I admire because of his knowledge and success at such a young managerial age, is a former Barcelona player and youth manager.

    On the flip side, you look at Los Blancos. Many of today’s players: Ronaldo, Kaka, Ozil, Di Maria, Carvalho, Benzema, Canales, etc., were all bought. Jose Mourinho was brought in as manager because he was the biggest name out there. To them, it’s all about what money can buy.

    I love watching Barcelona. For that, I’m going to give my support and my prediction to Barcelona. It's strong, healthy squad helps as well. I think Barcelona take this one 2-1.

James Willis (Tottenham Hotspur)

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    I’ve always favoured Real Madrid growing up, probably because of the first galactico’s era. It seems like the club is trying to rebuild that, which should be an exciting prospect for everyone.

    Barcelona play such stylish football though and it is hard to dislike them. Their magical play was simply summed up by their sextuple-winning season and by their huge contribution to the World Cup winning Spain squad.

    However, much as it might annoy people, I think I’ll be sitting on the fence for this one, and just watching both sides craft their magical football.

    It’s hard to see one side outdo the other, but with the home advantage and Messi high on confidence from his superb international goal, I think Barcelona may just edge a thrilling close game. Maybe 3-2.

Willie Gannon (Tottenham Hotspur)

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    To be honest, I like both clubs. They have always had great histories and one couldn’t do anything but respect the great teams and players of the past.

    This time around I’ll be supporting Barcelona.

    The football they play is simply mesmeric and while Madrid undoubtedly has some great players, they don’t play anywhere near the same kind of football that Barca do.

    Madrid, under Mourinho, has improved, and better players have been brought into the club, but they seem to lack the instinctive style that Barcelona has.

    When you watch Pep Guardiola’s side you get the impression that every single player is still playing street football. Having to avoid parked cars, bottles, walls, mad tackles, and shooting at jumpers for goal-posts.

    Madrid, for me, is more functional and not as enjoyable to watch.

    That is not to say that they are “shit on a stick,” but it’s just a personal preference.

    Making a prediction for this game will be pretty hard. My heart says Barca but my head says Madrid. I think that Barca’s lack of a recognised centre forward in their tactical set-up will undo them as Villa seems to be employed out on the left while the likes of Pedro hugs the right with Messi enjoying a free role through the middle.

    This has reaped benefits in La Liga this season but Barca has yet to play a team as organised or as good as Madrid, so I guess I’ll have to plump for Los Blancos.

    Either way, I just hope it’s a good game, and that no one gets sent off on purpose…

Closing Thoughts

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    This piece showed how divided neutrals are when it comes to the two Spanish giants. Seven of these magnificent writers will be supporting Barcelona, four will be supporting Real Madrid, while one will remain neutral.

    It's interesting to see that there were four clubs with two representatives (Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham), and only in Manchester United's case can we see syntony, as both Yoosof Farah and Andrew Jordan will be supporting Barcelona.

    In Arsenal's case in particular, the opinions couldn't be more different: Vijay Murali expressed his dislike towards Barcelona and admiration for Real Madrid and its players while Chris Forero hailed Barcelona and expressed his dislike towards Real Madrid.

    It's also interesting to see the effect José Mourinho still has on his former teams. Chelsea supporter Salomon Gonzalez claimed that his "heart still has Jose Mourinho firmly placed in it", and Inter supporter Sanat Talmaki will be supporting Real Madrid and made an indirect compliment to Mourinho's work.

    Mourinho also influences Liverpool's perspective. Liverpool supporter Kaustav Bose will be supporting Barcelona in this one due to Mourinho's recent incendiary statements regarding Liverpool and their former manager, Rafael Benitez.

    While expressing some dislike towards Barcelona, Bayern supporter Samrin Hasib will be supporting Real Madrid, wholeheartedly, in part due to the German influence in this year's squad (Ozil and Khedira).

    As for Milan supporter Tim Fontenault, he showed a preference towards Barcelona's football philosophy, while criticizing Real Madrid's money-driven philosophy.

    Chelsea supporter Saura Bhattacharjee is a fan of Lionel Messi, the most brilliant player of the current generation, hence why he'll be supporting Barcelona.

    Interestingly, Tottenham supporter Willie Gannon is the only whose support and actual prediction differ. Willie will be supporting Barcelona but he believes that Real Madrid might have an edge this time.

    Finally, Tottenham supporter James Willis will just sit and enjoy the show, without supporting either team.

    All in all, 12 different answers and several valid reasons to support/not to support each of the Spanish giants.

    I hope that you have found this article as interesting as I have. If so, you can thank these 12 brilliant writers who took some of their precious time to contribute.

    Enjoy El Clásico on Monday!