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How Sunday’s El Clasico stakes show the gap between Real Madrid and Barcelona and why it might get even worse

Real Madrid can’t officially win La Liga in Sunday’s El Clasico against Barcelona, but they can all but secure the title after Barca won it last season. Barcelona crashed out of the Champions League while Los Blancos bested Manchester City to advance to the last four of the tournament. If Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid emerge with a victory, there is a good chance that they’ll win La Liga by double digits over Barcelona for the second time in the past three years, while if Barcelona wins, it doesn’t particularly change anything.

That’s the state of these two teams. It shows how far the rivalry has gone as this season will see Xavi Hernandez depart Barcelona at the end of the season, the club likely not secure a trophy for the first time since 2019-20, and plenty of holes in the roster to fill but with limited funds to fill them. Meanwhile in Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti has seen his contract extended, they’re closing in on another La Liga title and could also be adding Kylian Mbappe during the summer.

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With the ability to pursue almost any player that they’d like not only has this period seen the gap widen between Barcelona and Real Madrid but the stage is set for it to only get wider. Clasico’s are supposed to be affairs full of drama, a time where the fate of the league hangs in the balance, but this one doesn’t have any of that. If Barcelona can’t figure out their managerial situation for next season and see more improvement from their young players, there will be a mountain to climb.

Mbappe knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League was already a poetic moment, full of foreshadowing of what could be coming if he denies Barcelona more silverware with Madrid. The gap between the two clubs hasn’t been this drastic since the early 2000’s and for fans around the world, hopefully, it isn’t this wide for much longer. Things are better with stakes in a Clasico which is a beautiful rivalry showcasing the best of what world soccer has to offer. Gone are the days of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo squaring off as giants of the soccer world but to move things forward, Barcelona needs to figure out who their next era will be built around. 

With Vinicius Junior, Jude Bellingham, Rodrygo, and Endrick on the way, Madrid are poised for success even without Mbappe while Barcelona’s future is much bleaker. Their hopes are on the shoulders of 16-year-old Lamine Yamal who while he seems like a generational talent at his current age, what if things don’t pan out? Not being able to spend money means a stronger reliance on the academy and that can produce inconsistent results growing the gap between the clubs. This Clasico showcases just how important the upcoming summer is for the balance of La Liga moving forward.

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