The bedrock of Spanish football will be strip mined in a series of four encounters between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Who will be left standing? At stake, La Liga, the Copa Del Rey, and the Champions League. Starting tomorrow at the Bernabeu with El Clasico.
Cristiano Ronaldo's record against the Blaugrana is an exceedingly poor one. He's never scored against them in six occasions. The first time he faced Barca while at Man Utd, he missed a penalty three minutes into the match.
United the eventual 2008 European champions went on to hold Barca at the Camp Nou and then won 1-0 at Old Trafford with Paul Scholes scoring the winning goal. A year later, in the final, CR 7 had a few good looks in the opening minutes and then faded away for the remainder of the match. Barca went onto win 2-0.
The jinx has continued after joining Real. At the Bernabeu in his first El Clasico, he played 66 minutes without scoring and had to leave while Barca were up by a goal. The second time he went 90 minutes without posing any threat as Barca swept both encounters and went on to win La Liga. This season was even more disastrous as Real were blistered for a 5-0 loss at the Camp. Many remember CR 7's pre game warning, "See if they can score eight", a reference to the previous weekend when Almeria were swept aside, 8-0.
510 minutes played without a goal against his rivals. While he keeps pace with Leo Messi as goalscoring leader with 29 goals to the little maestro's 30. However, it is with a group of peers that he does less well with Johan Cruyff saying the Argentinian is on his way to "greatness" while being decidedly lukewarm about CR 7's prospects. "A physical player" was all he managed to say. Messi on the other hand could be legitimately compared to Pele, Diego Maradona and Alfredo Di Stefano.
Messi is also more versatile. He has 18 assists to CR7's 7 showing off his skills as goal provider. And he also takes more shots on goal with 61 to 51. There is nothing more CR 7 would like better than to show up Messi on his seventh occasion. If he fails again, he can console himself by sparing a thought for Fernando Torres, who would like a goal, any goal to end his 693 minutes without one.