5) Managers at the helm
In Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid currently boasts one of the strongest figures in world football. Despite claims that he has been lucky, Zidane’s man-management of stars at Madrid has been commendable. Resting Ronaldo for crucial games while also developing Asensio was a true masterclass move from the Frenchman. On one hand, where Zidane continues to break records, Barca are going through a transition. Ernesto Valverde’s success at Athletic Bilbao did get him the Catalan job; however, the pressure at Camp Nou is enormous. How Valverde reacts to that remains to be seen, while Real Madrid look to continue their stronghold in Europe.
4) European Success
Barcelona may have edged Real Madrid to win La Liga titles in recent years; however, despite their success domestically, the Catalans are currently behind Real Madrid due to Real’s European success. After a decade of lack of European success, Real have now won three Champions League titles in last four years, a feat which makes them the best club in the world. While Barcelona struggled last season defensively, Real Madrid looked stable and organised in each game. Barca’s defeat to PSG and Juventus are a testament to their poor defence. Real Madrid, on the other hand, outplayed Juventus tactically in the Champions League final.
3) Midfield prowess
Real Madrid’s greatest strength last season was their midfield trio of Kroos, Modric, and Casemiro. Kroos’ supreme ball retention skills and Casemiro’s defensive skills allowed Modric to create magic. Casemiro’s injury did not hamper Real’s style of play with Kovacic and Isco coming in. Such depth helped Real get past a firm Juventus backline, which had conceded just two goals before the final in Europe. Where Real blossomed last season, Barca struggled immensely. Iniesta and Busquets failed to control the midfield like they had been doing for years, while Rakitic often found himself on the bench.
2) Financial strength
Real Madrid’s financial strength has helped the club sign the likes of Bale, Ronaldo, Kroos. Barcelona have also spent millions on Suarez and Neymar in recent years. However, the financial gap between the club remains evident. Real Madrid, on one hand, have been linked with a 130 million Euros bid for Kylian Mbappe whereas Barcelona have been hesitant in breaking the bank for Marco Verratti. Financial power ensures success and the gap between the clubs seems to have distanced Real Madrid from Barcelona in recent years.
1) Cristiano Ronaldo
The comparisons between Ronaldo and Messi never seem to end. However, if recent years are to considered, Ronaldo has surpassed Messi in every sense. Individually, Messi remains unstoppable; however, team’s overall success has taken Ronaldo past Messi. The Portuguese star’s form in the big games last season defied claims that he was in decline. A hat-trick against Bayern and Atletico while a brace against Juventus displayed Ronaldo’s ability to perform at crucial moments, whereas Messi failed to stamp his authority against Juventus in the quarter-finals. The last year was undoubtedly Ronaldo’s as he won two Champions League titles with Real and European Championships with the national side. Rumour has it that Ronaldo wants to leave Madrid, news which will only give great heart to Barcelona fans.