Remember that time when El Clasico used to be about which team won the match rather than which player scored the most?. That’s right, that time is long gone and the due credit for it goes to Mr.Ronaldo and Mr.Messi.

Now, both are of course fantastic players but, by now, highly concerned about their goal scoring ratio than actually winning matches.

You would hardly find anyone not talking about Messi vs Ronaldo regardless of who won the game. And that has just ruined half of the fun.

In the days of Raul, Zidane, Puyol, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, the match (and its result) was, as is normally the case all around the world, more important than individual performances, let alone individual performances of only two players.

At the moment, what most people want to talk about is how many goals Ronaldo and Messi scored or how many assists they made and if that doesn’t end the argument (and let’s be honest here, it never does end any argument involving Messi and Ronaldo) then the discussion goes beyond to heatmaps, successful passes inside the penalty area of the opposition and what not. Some zealots even bring the number of favourable retweets mentioning either players as a measure to gauge who was better on the night.

El Clasico isn’t the same anymore and the interesting part is that it is not because of the fans (who can’t stop ‘reasoning’ about which one of the two is better) but because of Ronaldo and Messi themselves who have, in their vain quest to get one over the other, have left no stone unturned to reduce Clasico into prizeshow between the two best players in the world.

How have they done it? Here the top five ways Ronaldo and Messi have destroyed El Clasico:

 

ronaldo-celebrates-goal-for-real-madrid

While Ronaldo (and Messi) bask in their incredible records, El Clasico’s appeal continues to wither

It is all about Ronaldo and Messi now. Nothing else counts or matters.

Not the goals, heck certainly not the result. I mean, obviously one doesn’t mind Real Madrid winning each and every clasico but there is a certain air of satisfaction when Ronaldo has outperformed Messi on the field (objectively that is.

Otherwise one could always spend another eternity fighting over who was the most valuable player of the match) even when Real Madrid lose the match.

And that is why the 0-4 defeat Real Madrid suffered at the beginning of the season under Benitez vs Barcelona at Santiago Bernabeu was more humiliating than ever.

Not only did Real Madrid get murdered in their own home by their eternal enemy but also, they did it without Messi.

On top of that, Ronaldo was almost non existent throughout the match (he did manage to miss a one on one sitter after Real Madrid were reduced to tears at 0-4) either through his own fault or because of the poor display of the men playing behind him.

If that wasn’t enough then Messi not starting and coming on the field when the result was all but set in stone was an experience that no Real Madrid fan should ever go through.

But you know what? It didn’t hurt that much in the end because Messi, along with Ronaldo, didn’t score that night and neither one got an assist.

And it’s all Messnaldo’s fault.

 

Messi celebrates goal with Suarez away from home

Messi’s disposition of ‘team play’ ends at him either scoring a goal or making an assist.

When it comes to El Clasico, both are always trying to get one over the other instead of playing for the team.  

Some might say that is an occupational hazard that comes with being the top two players in the world but, Messi wasn’t like that before Ronaldo came to Real Madrid from Manchester United for sweet 80 million in 2008.

When Messi was playing alongside Ronaldinho, Deco, Eto’o and even Henry and Zlatan, he was much content with playing as second fiddle to all these great players and just like normal people (as in normal people in the profession of playing football) Messi was more concerned with what the scoreline said at the end of the match instead of resigning himself to phrases like ‘I don’t know about the team but I think I played pretty well’.

So even without going into the details of who scored more or won more, Ronaldo wins as he managed to change the way his rival approached his game when on the field. Which is a pretty big deal if you think about it. Almost like how Muhammad Ali made Joe Frazier fight him with words before the actual fights to make a fool of himself because Ali knew Frazier wasn’t much of talker.

But that’s not the point, the takeaway is that Messi and Ronaldo have gotten a bit too big for their own good. Or to be more precise, for El Clasico’s good.

Hardly anyone has the match’s result as the first thing to look for at the end of regular time because Messi and Ronaldo have made El Clasico about themselves instead of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Is it any wonder that Messi is always willing to let penalties go when he plays against teams whose name don’t start with Real Madrid but never against Ronaldo’s Real Madrid?

I bet Suarez and Neymar would jump on the opportunity to take one but obviously Messi wouldn’t, just like Ronaldo that is.

Ronaldo points to the crowd after scoring a goal

Ronaldo is prone to backing up his talk about team spirit with highly individualistic play

Both aren’t considerate about the result.

Which is what this sport is about. A team’s result.

But who cares when you get paid millions just for showing up in sponsor ravaged shirts right?

Just rewatch the earlier beating Real Madrid took this season at the hands of Barcelona.

Did Ronaldo look overly concerned about the state of play at 0-4 down? I don’t think so. Probably the reason why he looked to pissed off when he missed that sitter from an excellent cross by Bale.

At 0-4 down with twenty odd minutes to go against Barcelona, you would think that a player wouldn’t get that aggravated at missing a chance to score a goal that would have been, at best, a consolation goal.

Not Ronaldo. No sir.

And it doesn’t end at him either.

Did Messi look overly joyed that when he came on the field as a second half substitute, Barcelona had already put the match to bed? Nope.

Messi presented us with a face that was determined and ready to pounce on any opportunity that came his way.

Now what does that tell us?

I don’t think there should be any doubt that both the players, even at that moment in time ( Real Madrid losing to Barcelona 0-4 with twenty minutes left ) were think about one thing and one thing only. Goals.

Failing that, assists.

And failing that then key passes. And if not even that then the number of passes or the number of miles completed throughout the match.

Messi dribbles past a defender in La Liga action

Whenever Messi is bogged down at the front, he drops deep to ‘help’ his team by dribbling past three or four defenders.

Their narcissistic mindset that infected the managers as well.

Yes. Behaving like self-serving mercenary infects other people was well.  Not that because of Ronaldo and Messi, managers started to count their win percentages or what not, but their rivalry affected them to the extent that managers themselves made sure that Ronaldo and Messi had every opportunity to score a goal or make an assist without giving consideration to other teammates who might have been placed in a more decisive position.

Because of Ronaldo, Ancelotti couldn’t play Bale on the left. And it should come as a no surprise as to why Ibrahimovic left Barcelona. Barcelona would have you believe that he had a spat with Guardiola but it shouldn’t be hard to read between the lines here.

Ibrahimovic, being equally self-loving as Messi and Ronaldo, simply couldn’t live in a role that was second to Messi’s. Guardiola, given the choice between the two, chose Messi.

Enrique, along with the other two (or was it three?) no one cares about, tried to play Messi in a restricted role and we all know how that went.

Ronaldo and Messi are players who can raise the level of any team they play in, so it is understandable that managers would succumb to their demands on most occasions.

But when those demands are detrimental to the club or to the team even, then a line is to be drawn. Managers at Barcelona and Real Madrid have not drawn that line and hence have made the Clasico about Messi and Ronaldo.

Messnaldo can play wherever they want, whenever they want. They can take whichever freekicks they feel like taking and definitely inherit the right to taking penalties.

Ronaldo does his trademark celebration move after scoring a goal at Bernabeu

Yes, I am the man says Ronaldo to ‘boost’ his teammates morale.

Messi and Ronaldo have set a bad example for players like Neymar, James, Suarez and Bale.

Neymar, Luis, Rodriguez and Gareth are all on the list of players who can, eventually, displace Messi and Ronaldo at the top of the tree a few years from now and it is no surprise that they want in on the action as well.

Now we see these four players engaging in some of the most individualistic plays that one can hope (maybe dread is the right word here) to see on a football field. At least Neymar and Suarez manage to pull it off sometimes but James and Gareth? Nope. And that has hurt Real Madrid in the past if we are talking about football outside El Clasico. Maybe it will hurt Barcelona as well in the future.

But Ronaldo and Messi haven’t missed a mark in leading the way for not giving a damn about the club, especially in an El Clasico match.  

And should it even come as a surprise to anyone that other players now want to outdo these two on derby day?

Neymar going for an overhead rainbow skill facing his own goal on the sidelines? James taking shots from long ranges? Benzema not linking the two wingers as well as he is reputed to do?

All of these anomalies are symptoms of playing in an El Clasico match that has Ronaldo and Messi on the pitch.

Messi takes a shot at goal with an angled left foot shot

Perhaps Messi’s goal tally of 40 plus goals (over 70 in one particular season) for over seven consecutive seasons clearly indicate that he prefers himself over his team, Barcelona.

Conclusion

Ronaldo and Messi are players that have done a lot for the game of football in terms of its reach on a global scale and fan following (everyone knows about the wikipedia picture of a man driving a van with Messi’s name on his rear windshield, in the Himalayas!!!).

But as far as El Clasico is concerned that has come at a painful price as this historic rivalry has been taken hostage to give way for two the greatest players of all time.

And you know what, that’s a bummer.