Barcelona captain Messi is out with a fractured arm, while Real Madrid legend Ronaldo joined Juventus in the summer. Barcelona face Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday (15:15 GMT) – but for the first time in nearly 11 years, one of football’s most famous rivalries will feature neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo.
So, what will we miss?
Goal, goals, assists
That’s stating the obvious perhaps – but just look at these stats. El Clasico minus Messi minus Ronaldo = 49.5% fewer goals. In the 30 matches featuring both Messi and Ronaldo, Barca and Real combined to score 101 goals.
Messi’s 20 goals and 11 assists, added to Ronaldo’s 18 goals and one assist, means the two players were directly involved in 50 of those goals – or 49.5%. Worryingly for Madrid, they have only scored once in their last four league games… 0-0 anyone?
We’ll also miss their rivalry
Messi has been at Barcelona longer, making his Clasico debut aged 18 in a 3-0 victory over Real in November 2005, and has since become the king of El Clasico.
The Argentine is all-time top scorer in the fixture with 26 goals in 38matches in all competitions and also has the most assists, with 14.
Ronaldo’s first Clasico was a 1-0 defeat by Barcelona in November 2009, following his £80m transfer from Manchester United that summer.
The Portuguese is the second highest scorer in Clasico history on 18 strikes, level with Real great Alfredo di Stefano.
But it is the direct rivalry between the two best players in the world that has come to define this fixture in the last decade.
When they faced each other in El Clasico, Barcelona won 14 of those contests (46.7%), Real claimed eight (26.7%) and there were eight draws.
Fittingly, both scored in their final Clasico as opponents – a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp in May. Messi will be back in El Clasico of course, but never against Ronaldo. Will this derby see as thrilling a personal battle between all-time greats ever again?
Source: BBC News