Messi and Cristiano take centre stage

Barça v Real Madrid: live

No. 10 vs. No 7

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid and also Messi vs. Cristiano, the best players currently in world football. El Clásico, which has now become a global phenomenon (indeed the kick-off time has been set to suit viewers in Asia) has the added ingredient of the best talents in the game on display as the Argentinian and Portuguese players come head to head. There is still a tradition in Europe to support teams or clubs but many people around the world follow players, something that we've witnessed in the NBA. Today's game will focus on these wonderfully talented individuals, each with their unique playing style who between them have shared the Ballon d'Or award exclusively for over the past years and who have been shortlisted for the new The Best’ award along with French player Griezmann.

Messi and changes

Messi has changed his playing style and Cristiano is in the process of changing. I spent some time watching Messi in action on Barça TV yesterday and the re-runs included that infamous goal against Getafe which reminded me of Diego Maradona's goal (the second one) against England in the 1986 World Cup. I'm not sure if the modern day Messi could score another goal like that. There is still an echo of that younger talent but he's now a more mature player now who bosses the midfield area. His positioning and style of play has been augmented with the presence of Neymar or Jordi Alba on the left wing. At times it feels that Messi is simply strolling in midfield and then suddenly picks up the ball and can still terrorize opposition defenses. I'd go as far as saying that Leo is now a more complete player than the previous incarnation.

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona

The evolution of CR7

Cristiano, in is own way is also experiencing change in his way of playing the game with the striker playing in a more central position and becoming a more traditional "No. 9". now in his early thirties, the player from Madeira lacks that extreme lightning pace that saw him leave countless defenders for dead. The player still has one of his key trademarks which is that the dummy that still fools an opponent and enables the striker to attack the danger area. Today's game is only complemented by the presence of these two talented players, both now in the prime of their respective careers and their individual performances will go some way in determining the outcome of this afternoon's El Clásico.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo