One of the hardest questions I have ever been asked, in terms of football, was this:
‘Who has the better squad, Barcelona or Real Madrid?’
Now, due to the colossal success Barcelona have had in recent years, I quickly gave my answer; Barcelona. However the more I thought about the question, the less decisive I became. I thought to myself ‘Do you judge the players on individual talent? Do you rate them as a unit? Do you mark them on success in terms of trophies or medals?’ At the moment of writing this, I am still unsure whom of the two European giants the ‘better’ squad belongs to.
I started to dilute the question into positions and decided to rate the individuals against each other. This is how my calculations concluded.
Between the sticks:
Victor Valdes:A player who has progressed through Barcelona’s youth system and is now fully established as first choice shot-stopper. The Spanish keeper has won 5 La Liga titles, 3 Champions League trophies and has twice lifted the Copa Del Rey. He has played 8 times for the Spanish senior team and is highly regarded as one of the greatest keepers on the planet.
José Manuel Pinto:Barca’s second choice goalkeeper does not come close to their first choice. Pinto has only played 11 times in a since joining permanently in 2008 and being 37 years old next month, the former Betis player will soon be calling it a day.
Iker Casillas:5 league titles, 4 Spanish Super Cups, 2 Champions League trophies, 2 Uefa European Championships and a World Cup. Not bad, eh? He has also been nominated European Footballer of the year on two occasions, as well as becoming the most capped goalkeeper of all time in the Uefa Champions League. He joined Madrid’s youth system at just 9 years of age and has gone on to play 460 games for the first team (where he is now captain), he has earned138 caps for his nation, Spain, and boasts a wealth of personal accolades.
Antonio Adán: Another product of the prestigious youth academy at Madrid, Adán has 139 appearances to his name for Real, 4 of which came for the first team. He has also represented the Spanish national side from the under-16s right up to the under-21s but is way down in the senior sides pecking order.
Goalkeepers : Barcelona 0-1 Madrid
At the back:
Dani Alves: Alves has made a name for himself as an attacking full back and is one of the best at what he does. You’ll often see Alves bombing down the right side of the pitch, linking up with Barcelona’s potent midfield in addition to creating frequent chances for the goal-scorers. The Brazilian has made 134 appearances for Barca, following spells with his home club Bahia before he joined Sevilla, where he won 2 Uefa Cups and a Copa Del Rey. In his debut season with the club, he won six trophies. He has also played 56 games for his country, scoring 5 goals.
Gerard Pique:Born in Barcelona, Pique joined up with the Catalan side’s youth academy, before making a bold move to Manchester United at the age of 17. Things didn’t go to plan however and his progression had halted so he looked for a return to his homeland. In the four years he spent at United he played only 12 times for the Red Devils’ first team, but did manage to win the Premier League and the Champions League during his time at the the club, before Barcelona offered him a way out. Since his return, He has won 3 La Liga titles and 2 Champions League trophies along with a number of other silverware whilst being an ever-present in the heart of Barcelona’s defence. He was also part of the Spanish team that lifted the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships in 2012.
Carles Puyol:The face of Barcelona. Puyol has dedicated his entire career to the club and has gone on to play over 500 games, most of which he captained the side. The curly-haired defender has also represented Spain on over 100 occasions, winning the World Cup and European Championships. Since playing for Barcelona, Puyol has won 18 (yes eighteen) major titles.
Jordi Alba: Barcelona’s most recent defender, arriving from Valencia for a fee of around £12m. The youngster can play either left back or left-midfield and made his debut for Barca in a recent victory over Real Sociedad. Alba’s fame propelled as he played a big part in Spain’s European Championship victory earlier this year.
Martin Montoya:Another promising full back is Martin Montoya. At 21-years old he holds bags of potential and has already played over 80 times for Barcelona, although the majority of those came for their ‘B’ team. Predominately a right back, he enjoys getting forward and has already been compared to Dani Alves.
Adriano Correia:A small solid defensive player that can either play in defence or midfield. The Brazilian has represented his country on numerous occasions as well as knocking up a respectful 42 games for his current club. Adriano, as he is known, joined Barca from Sevilla back in 2010 and has scored 2 goals.
Sergio Ramos: Ramos is one of those players that seem to have been playing forever, despite being only 26 years old. The Spaniard made his name playing as a right back playing for Sevilla as a youngster, and he instantly stood out because of his long hair and his flair headband. Madrid smashed the transfer record spent on a teenager in 2005, paying €27m for the defender, a transfer-fee that seems fully worth it now. He has been a mainstay in the white of Madrid, making 231 appearances to date and winning 3 league titles and a Copa Del Rey.
Pepe:An old-school type defender who loves to put himself about, making sure the opposing strikers know that they are in a game. Some people criticise Pepe’s style, but when you have won 2 La Ligas, 2 Primeira Ligas and a Copa Del Rey, you must be doing something right, eh? Pepe was also included in the European Championship Player Of The Tournament in 2008 and 2012 where he played for his national side Portugal.
Ricardo Carvalho:Another Portuguese international in the centre of Madrid’s defence is Carvalho. He was signed by current Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, after the pair worked together successfully at Porto from 1997-2004 and then Chelsea between 2004 and 2010. Mourinho sees Carvalho as one of the most reliable defenders in world football, and the pair has won 7 league titles together, as well as 2 Champions Leagues.
Alvaro Arbeloa:Arbeloa joined Madrid’s youth system and progressed up to the first team, after being a regular for the Real Madrid ‘B’. He only made 2 appearances for the first team before being shipped to Deportivo and then famously to Liverpool where he spent 2 years with manager Rafael Benitez. After a good start at Anfield, Arbeloa made a number of mistakes and it lead to him returning to The Bernabéu for a fee of £5m. He signed a 5-year contract and has since played 85 times for Madrid, getting on the score sheet twice. Arbeloa’s international success has been somewhat greater than his club venture, winning 2 European Championships and a World Cup with Spain.
Raul Albiol:Signed from Valencia in 2009, Albiol has made his name as a versatile defender, capable of playing anywhere across the back four or even as a defensive mid fielder. A player you don’t hear much about because of the way he gets on and does his job without complaining. Solid.
Marcelo:Marcelo has the flamboyancy, the trickery and the confidence of a typical Brazilian player, and the fuzzy-haired left-back is blessed with the raw pace which allows him to link up nicely with the wide players of Madrid. Still only 24 years of age, he has won 3 league titles and was named in the Uefa Team of the year in 2011.
Defence: Barcelona 0-2 Madrid
To read about the attacking options that the teams have, click here