Real Madrid's recent Club World Cup win, Barcelona's La Liga form promises exciting El Clasico, feels Gianluca Zambrotta

Former Italy and Barcelona defender Gianluca Zambrotta said that the upcoming El Clasico, the first of the ongoing La Liga season, will be a fantastic clash, and that it would be difficult to predict which way the match would head.

Amit Banerjee December 23, 2017 16:29:52 IST
Real Madrid's recent Club World Cup win, Barcelona's La Liga form promises exciting El Clasico, feels Gianluca Zambrotta

New Delhi: The first El Clasico of the ongoing La Liga season promises to be every bit of a cracker of a match, and could very well go on to be the defining game of the season, if popular opinion is to be believed.

Barcelona sit pretty on top of the table with 42 points, 11 clear of their fiercest rivals, having won 13 out of the 16 games that they have played so far in the season. Real Madrid, on the other hand, are fresh off their victory over Brazilian club Gremio in the final of the 2017 Club World Cup, winning the trophy for the second consecutive time.

Real Madrids recent Club World Cup win Barcelonas La Liga form promises exciting El Clasico feels Gianluca Zambrotta

Gianluca Zambrotta represented Barcelona between 2006 and 2008. AFP

That, along with their 5-0 hammering of Sevilla in the La Liga, would have raised their spirits after what has been a slow start in the season so far.

As far as former Italy and Barcelona star Gianluca Zambrotta is concerned, it will be pretty hard to pick between the two sides ahead of the scheduled kickoff at the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid's home ground, on Saturday.

"Real Madrid’s at a better position because they have won the (Club) World Cup. Barcelona (on the other hand) are on top in the league. The match is going to be very exciting. It is going to be very difficult to presume or to tell how it is going to be. So it is going to be fantastic," Zambrotta, who played for the Catalan club between 2006 and 2008, was quoted as saying in an exlusive interaction with Firstpost in New Delhi.

"I would always pick Barcelona, as I have played for the club," added Zambrotta with a laugh, when asked to pick a winner between the two rivals.

The upcoming El Clasico is also the first such fixture to be scheduled according to the time preferences of Indian audiences, with the kickoff scheduled at 5.30 pm Indian time.

"It is a positive effect. They are giving an opportunity for Indians as well to see so that there are more viewers," Zambrotta said when asked about his opinion on the growing Indian influence on the Spanish league.

The change in the kickoff timing is seen as an effect of the popularity of the league's popularity in India, with La Liga making its entry into the nation with an office at New Delhi in 2016.

La Liga India operations chief Jose Cachaza, speaking to Firstpost, echoed Zambrotta's views on the effect that the Indian audiences had on the league's broadcast growth.

"The impact has been positive. They (live screenings) are quite positive to have, 20,000 fans enjoying the hottest match on earth.

"We are the first football organization to have a permanent office in India, (which) I’m proud to head. We are doing much more stuff of course. These big events are really important because it helps us to reach many people, not just the 20,000 that will be at the ground," added Cachaza, who has had a long-running association with Spanish football as the Head of Marketing of the RFEF.

The match will be live screened for audiences in New Delhi, with Zambrotta himself attending the event at the NSIC Grounds at Okhla in the Capital.

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