El Clasico Battle: Bale Versus Neymar


With only four points separating Real Madrid and Barcelona leading into tonights El Clasico, you can be assured of yet another fiery and highly anticipated encounter at the Bernabeu.

One of the most intriguing sub-plots for the encounter involves the comparisons in form between last summers big money buys.

At Madrid they have the world record £90m signing Gareth Bale and from Barca they have £71m Brazilian superstar Neymar.

Many a pundit and punter in pre-season expected Neymar to be the better out of the two in Spain but it looks like the Welsh superstar has actually eclipsed him so far. To be fair both are still trying to find their feet at huge clubs and struggle to get out of the shadows created by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

If anything Bale has embraced his secondary role and makes a point of always stating that Ronaldo is top dog at Real and is an inspiration. Neymar just seems a little bit more uncomfortable with his status behind Messi, especially as he is the main man for Brazil.


The twenty-two year old Neymar seemed to hit the ground running with the Spanish champions providing the team with ten goals and eleven assists by the turn of the year. With goals in vital games against Atletico Madrid and Real in the first El Clasico of the season.

But the flamboyant star has had a miserable 2014 so far. He’s only bagged a single goal and assist in the new year.

We have various reasons for this slump: he missed out for a few weeks because of an ankle injury, Messi has returned to the team and then we had the saga about his transfer fee. That transfer debacle, which caused Sandro Rosell to leave his post as club president, is the reason given by Barca manager Gerardo Martino for Neymar’s decline.

We also have to remember that this is a World Cup year. With the competition being held in Brazil, Neymar has huge expectations put upon his shoulders. The ‘number eleven’ is the local hero for the Brazilians and as we know with Ronaldo (from 1998) those expectations can reach boiling point. Perhaps after his knock against Getafe Neymar is protecting himself a little and is paying too much attention to the up coming World Cup.

It should also be noted that by signing Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, Barcelona didn’t deal with the true problems within the squad. Another forward wasn’t a priority, they should have been recruiting at least one more centre-back first.

Gareth_Bale_Real Madrid

Things seemed to start a bit slower for Gareth Bale at Madrid, even if he did secure a debut goal against Villarreal.

His start to the season was hindered by a lack of a pre-season and with niggling injuries. It took seven attempts for the star to complete a full ninety minutes for ‘Los Merengues’ but in that game he grabbed a brace and two assists in a 7-3 win.

At Spurs Bale was often criticised for not providing enough assists but Ronaldo, Benzema and co can’t complain with his 14 assists so far this campaign. No one in the squad has more assist this term than Bale. He comes into the El Clasico with six assists in his last six games.

As you would imagine he has also helped out on the goal front too with 14 strikes in all competitions.

So the stats suggest that Bale has edged out Neymar so far this season. He has also been more consistent when its mattered for his side, Neymar’s second half to the season slump has happened at a terrible time for his club.

There is no doubt both stars still play second fiddle for their teams with Messi and Ronaldo still the main men. But both have shown signs they could be ready to takeover the mantle of worlds best players in a few years time.

Tonights match won’t define either players career in Spain but it could define their debut season. Should Bale help inspire Real to victory then that will be a huge step in securing Real Madrid’s 33rd La Liga title. But if Neymar rediscovers his form and goalscoring touch then he could aid in his sides bid to close the gap and regain the league championship. Its worth pointing out that the Catalan giants also need to over-take Atletico first.

It is advantage Real Madrid at the moment in terms of last summers purchases with Bale out-preforming his Barca counterpart Neymar. But it will probably take another season or two before we see the true reflection of their impacts on the Spanish giants!

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