This Sunday at 4PM ET, Real Madrid will travel to Camp Nou to take on arch rivals Barcelona in the second El Clasico of the season. It’s a game that will have a huge impact on the title race, with Los Blancos trailing Barca by a single point in the title race. Considering the form of each team since the winter break, Barcelona will start as favourites, but as with any derby match, form goes out of the window.
But this match is so much more than a simple league game. From the political background to the current battle of the brands, here are five reason why El Clasico brings the footballing world to a standstill.
1. El Clasico transcends football
Since the 1930s, Real Madrid and Barcelona have represented more than football teams; they have been icons of the political divide in Spain and the Calatan regions’ call for independence. During the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, FC Barcelona became a symbol of Catalan identity, and Camp Nou was one of the few places a Catalonian could speak their language without fear of repercussions. It was around this time that the club motto was created; ‘Més que un club’ translates as ‘More than a club’. Even today there is a large movement dedicated towards holding a referendum and gaining independence.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid were regarded as the ‘establishment club’, as General Franco’s regime operated out of the Spanish capital, and were said to have many links to senior representatives at Real Madrid. As well as this perceived political support, Madrid also had the backing of the royal family in Spain. The ‘Real’ in their name is Spanish for ‘Royal’, and was given as a gift in 1920 from King Alfonso XIII.
Each time the two clubs meet, there is much more at stake than three points; this is about national identity and pride.
2. Madrid and Barcelona are global brands
Madrid and Barcelona are the two most valuable sports teams in the world, while all five of the all-time most expensive players currently play for one of the clubs. It doesn’t matter where you live or who you support, if you even have a casual interest in football you’ll be watching El Clasico. I’m an Englishman who supports Arsenal, living in North Carolina and I’ll certainly be tuning in come Sunday afternoon!
Of course, the Latino community around the world highly anticipates this fixture. From the US to South America, and Europe to Asia, this is a game that every football fan looks forward to. As such, the kick-off time is arranged to make the global reach as big as possible.
3. Record viewership
The global audience is expected to be anywhere between 400 – 500 million people, an astonishing figure considering this is ‘only’ a league game, and not a cup final or Champions League tie.
In America, the game will be broadcast on beIN SPORTS. Their broadcast of the first El Clasico of the season reached just shy of 1.5 million people on its English and Spanish networks. For both networks it was the top soccer telecast of the week, and for the Spanish network it was the top telecast of the season so far. It outperformed the Premier League, Champions League, Liga MX, MLS and more as El Clasico demonstrated the drawing power it possesses.
4. Social media will explode
A list of the sports teams with the most fans on social media is dominated by football teams, with Barcelona and Madrid by far the two most popular. So expect to see your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds inundated with El Clasico hashtags, memes, pictures, opinions and so much more on Sunday. We expect our friends at soccer.com to have a very busy day!
The match also offers brands a great chance for some opportunistic marketing. We’ve seen before with major sporting events that per-planned campaigns can be successful, but sometimes it’s on the spot reactionary marketing that can work wonders. Particularly if there are controversial incidents, expect to see big brands jumping on the trending topics. Talking of brands…
5. Big brands battle it out
Aside from the marketing opportunities on social media and on television, the big sporting brands battle it out on the pitch. For the likes of Nike, adidas and PUMA, they’ll be hoping that the players wearing their boots are on top of their game.
Nike and adidas rarely miss a trick, and they have both released new boots that their marquee player will debut on Sunday. Ronaldo has a new silver Nike Mercurial Superfly, while adidas have treated Messi with the ‘Pibe de Barr10’, a boot that recognises his upbringing in his hometown of Rosario.
Which of the two will have their shooting boots on this Sunday? I can’t wait to find out!