Real Madrid v Barcelona: ‘El Clásico’ the richest game in sport
While coming only eleven games in, the match on the weekend is arguably the most important of the whole 2015/2016 La Liga season. Barcelona, three points clear at the top, travel to the Santiago Bernabéu to face Real Madrid; and to paraphrase Jose Mourinho in 2012 – the whole of the sporting world will once again stop to watch.
A win for Barca will give them a six-point cushion which, in terms of the Spanish top flight, is enormous. Real will be gunning for glory in front of their home support, with Los Blancos having watched with envy their fierce rivals secure a stunning treble last season.
Two of the most successful teams in the sport, and not to mention the two best players in the world on opposite sides - the stage is set.
It doesn’t get much bigger than El Clásico in club soccer, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s ongoing duel just one of a number of fascinating sub-plots in a game of real magnitude. In fact, the latest round of Real Madrid v Barcelona is arguably set to be the most lucrative game in the sport.
The world’s most expensive player, Gareth Bale, will not be a part of proceedings on Saturday due to injury. The Welshman cost over $129 million back in 2013. But even with his absence, the combined cost of the two predicted starting line-ups exceeds $1 billion, with this set to be the priciest soccer match in history.
Between the two clubs, Real and Barca have four of the five most expensive players ever. With a price-tag of $121 million, Real talisman Cristiano Ronaldo sits just behind teammate Bale in terms of money spent, with Luis Suarez of Barca coming in at $113 million and Real’s James Rodríguez costing $95 million.
Real Madrid topped the Deloitte football rich list for a 10th consecutive year back in January with $584.5 million in revenues, with Barca coming fourth with $515.5 million.
Only Manchester United and Bayern Munich, in third and fourth respectively, could separate the Spanish giants on the list, which is taken from the 2013/14 season. While there are signs that United could challenge for first place in the coming years, Spanish royalty Real have utterly dominated.
The cheapest ticket for Saturday’s game on viagogo – one of the major marketplaces for live events - currently stands at $329.63, while VIP tickets cost close to $2,500, such is the overwhelming demand. These numbers will only increase as match-day gets closer and closer.
According to viagogo, the demand for Real-Barca tickets increases year-on-year by 36%, and was in March the most popular overseas sporting event for US sports fans.
El Clásico will once again be broadcast all over the world, with a global audience exceeding 400 million expected to tune in.
Soccer has never been more popular following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, especially in the US. The national team’s terrific performances encouraged thousands more fans to join the throng.
“Soccer fever has been growing in the US since the World Cup last summer and demand for El Clásico is currently outstripping even the Champions League Final,” said a viagogo spokesperson in March.
The most prestigious fixture in the soccer calendar has never been bigger, or more important. El Clásico will be the most lucrative hour and a half of soccer this season, and potentially in history, with the sport’s biggest superstars’ every action set to reach all corners of the globe and the eyes of millions.