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, Toni Kroos
Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Alejandro Rios/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Real Madrid CDM Casemiro

Casemiro is the best defensive midfielder in the world, even if he’s cooled off from his incredible performances in 2019-2020. Sergio Busquets is about to have yet another good season for Barcelona and is arguably even more consistent than Casemiro. Both men are vital to their team’s success in Clasicos.

Ultimately, Casemiro gets the nod since he’s a more robust defender and can get up the pitch to help the attack more. They are very different players, but Casemiro makes more of a difference.

Real Madrid CM Fede Valverde

With all due respect to Frenkie de Jong, Fede Valverde is the slightly more impressive player. He outplayed de Jong in both Clasicos last season, offering more athleticism and dynamism in midfield. De Jong has traits that are more impressive than Valverde, such as his ability on the ball, but Valverde is no slouch technically.

Valverde seems to raise his games in the biggest matches, and he’s often the only player working to right the ship when things aren’t going well. Refer to that woeful first half against Shakhtar. Valverde did everything he could in that match and was let down by his teammates too often.

Real Madrid CM Toni Kroos

It’s hard to match Real Madrid and Barcelona one-for-one in terms of the midfield, since Barcelona play with Philippe Coutinho as an attacking midfielder. I think Coutinho gets way too much hate and is a very effective player, but the reality is that either Toni Kroos or Luka Modric has to make this XI. They are two of the best midfielders in the world and bring class that no other midfielder on either team can bring.

Since Modric should get some rest after being overworked, Kroos gets the nod. He was decisive in the last Clasico. Kroos’ passing is the envy of pretty much every other midfielder, and his cool demeanor is invaluable to Real Madrid in these big matches, especially with so many young players transitioning into the team.