Today's game could be dubbed the Apéritif El Clasico due to the unusual early kick-off time. Many are annoyed about the start time of the match and as always in these instances the focus falls firmly on Javier Tebas. The kick-off time is designed to be compatible with the Asian market and it's planned that the return game in LaLiga at Camp Nou will probably be staged at 20:45 which is ideal for the American markets. The rationale from LaLiga is to give these territories an opportunity to enjoy the biggest game in domestic football where competition from the Premier League and Champions League is ferocious.
For regular match-goers these random match start times interfere with the classic match-day ritual and that's simply something we'll need to get used to. This round of games were a hodgepodge with games from Tuesday through to Saturday, the Clasico a day before Christmas Eve, all possibly conditioned by the imminent holiday period but all with asinine kick-off times. It has to be said that for some time now the money generated from television rights holders far outweighs that of match day attending supporters and for some smaller top flight clubs accounts for a 90/10% split of revenue. In the case of both Madrid and Barça, match-day income accounts for a third with the rest being made up from television rights and marketing.
The most important thing is that all goes well with the game which will see the spotlight as always fall on both Cristiano and Messi. Madrid go into the match on the back of a strong performance against Sevilla and their Club World Cup victory over Gremio. They can also count on the fit-again Gareth Bale who will probably be brought into the action during the second half. For Barça, Valverde has moulded a efficient block where Paulinho has performed better than anticipated and in Ter Stegen they have a keeper who doubles up as a fine sweeper. It's a different type of Barça side but a solid team nonetheless. A game of this magnitud means we can skip our aperitif today and the Madrid and Barça fans in Asia have every right to enjoy a game of this enormity as much as the rest of us.