Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: 7 Predictions for El Clasico Showdowns This Season
People who think the rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox is the biggest in professional sports haven't seen Barcelona and Real Madrid play one another.
These two clubs have been battling and hating one another since 1929, when they first locked horns, and this 2011-2012 La Liga season will add at least two more bouts to this historic list.
Here are seven predictions of what could happen during the two scheduled El Clasicos this season.
Karim Benezema Scores Most Goals in the Two Meetings
Karim Benzema is settling well into his second season with Real, scoring eight goals in seven preseason friendlies before opening the year with two goals in three games.
The former Lyon man is a player who has proven he has an uncanny knack for finding the back of the net with his strikes.
Madrid's French attacker recorded 15 goals in just 20 games started last season, with five goals through seven games in the Spanish cup playoffs.
Benzema is showing no signs of a Sophomore slump for his Spanish club, and will be one of the key players for Real in both meetings with Barcelona this season.
Lionel Messi Becomes Second-Highest Scorer in El Clasico History
For as great has Benzema may be, there's nobody in the game of soccer today quite like Barcelona's Lionel Messi.
Messi needs just one goal to pass several players for second most goals scored in the history of El Clasico. If he racks up five goals, he'll become the top goal scorer in the history of these meetings between the two Spanish powerhouses.
Normally, I'd say the latter has a better chance of happening next season, but because it's the masterful Argentine, he could do it two games.
Both Games Will Be Flooded with Yellow Cards
Last season, these two teams met four times in less than two weeks, including their previous meetings, which lead to some unsportsmanlike conduct between the two.
In the match where Barcelona blew out Madrid, the Real players targeted Messi and tried to injure the Barca man with just minutes left in regulation. The game was already chippy and physical throughout, but to attempt to intentionally injure a player just goes to show how intense these meetings get.
It would come as no surprise to see these two teams rack up yellow cards, and maybe one or two red cards when they meet up this year.
Another Near Fight Will Break out
If the games are going to be chippy and full of yellow cards, then there's reason to believe a fight could erupt or come extremely close between these two squads.
Madrid vs Barca games are always one of the most watched games of the year in professional sports, and with so many eyes glued to a match involving two bitter rivals, tempers are bound to flare up at some point.
Despite many of these players suiting up on the same team to play for their native country of Spain, when it's the red and blue of Barcelona against the white of Real Madrid, all friendships are put on hold because of the loyalty each player has to their respective clubs.
Spanish National Team Cohesiveness Questioned
Now, obviously, Spain is the defending FIFA World Cup champions, so on average these players are able to at least get along when donning national colors.
However, it wouldn't be the first time rumors sparked of heated issues between Barcelona and Madrid players on the national team.
If a fight gets close to breaking out once again between the two high profile clubs, it could cause bad blood between players that have to coexist as teammates on the national stage.
Two Teams Meet for Copa Del Rey for Second Straight Season
During the Summer transfer window, these two already talented squads were somehow able to acquire even more elite talent from around the soccer world.
Barca was able to acquire players such as Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas while Madrid lured Hamit Altintop and Fabio Coentrao from their respective clubs.
The Spanish league is not without its contenders, and it should be noted that neither of these teams are in at the top of the league table currently.
That being said, Real and Barcelona have talent on their rosters that make them look like a who's who of All-Star players, and it would be hard to imagine them not meeting up in the Copa del Rey final once again this season.
Barcelona Sweeps Series
Both teams have an immense amount of talent, and both teams have a great chance at winning any of these match-ups between each other.
With that said, my bold prediction is that Barcelona sweeps their rivals.
Barca, for the most part, was able to come out ahead of their arch foe more often then not when they met last year and just appear to have the better team.
They're fresh off a Champions League title and have made some game-changing improvements to an already deadly squad.
Nobody can doubt what Kaka, Christiano Ronaldo and, of course, Iker Casillas in goal can do on the field, but it would seem that Barcelona has just too much firepower this year to be denied a season sweep in the El Clasico games.