Real Madrid vs. Barcelona Combined XI: Who has the most starters?

Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid LB Ferland Mendy

As much as he annoys Real Madrid fans, Jordi Alba is indeed a legend of La Liga. But at this stage of his career, he is not at the level of Ferland Mendy, who has become a world-class left back for Los Blancos after just one season.

The drop-off between Mendy and Marcelo at left back has become massive, as Marcelo’s poor performance against Cadiz showed. Mendy is perhaps the best defensive fullback in world football and the kind of player Zinedine Zidane can rely on as a starter each and every week.

Note: Alba may not start for Barcelona, but Sergiño Dest, despite his talent, would not rate above Mendy either.

Real Madrid LCB Sergio Ramos

French center back Clement Lenglet is another quality player for Barcelona, but it would be irresponsible to rank him over Sergio Ramos, who is one of the legends of the game. Without Ramos, Real Madrid floundered in yet another Champions League fixture, as the captain is so often an inspiration for a comeback.

Even at the age of 34, Ramos remains one of the world’s best center backs. He brings rugged defending, a bag of tricks, crossfield switches, composed passing, and, yes, goals to the table for Los Blancos.

Real Madrid RCB Raphael Varane

Out of the four battles in the defense, this one is the closest, but the nod has to go to Raphael Varane. He’s been excellent this season, even accounting for a below-average performance against Shakhtar Donetsk. It’s hard to put the blame on Varane, because everything else around him crumbled. Playing in a back four with Marcelo is like playing with a man down.

Barcelona’s Gerard Pique remains a great center back and has been a decisive player in past Clasicos, including the 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou last December. But Varane is the better player and has very few peers at the center back position in 2020.

Barcelona RB Sergi Roberto

This one isn’t even a contest. Real Madrid will probably go back to starting Nacho Fernandez at right back, and while Nacho is a loyal member of the club, he’s not someone who should be starting in Clasicos at this stage of his career. But with Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola both injured, Real might not have a choice.

Sergi Roberto isn’t a great right back, but he gets the job done. He is an accurate passer, works hard for the team, and is on the same page as Lionel Messi. That’s really all La Blaugrana can ask for anyway.