El Clasico, The LaLiga Fixture With An Unrivaled International Flavour

Just a glance at the countries from around the world to have been represented in the world’s biggest domestic club fixture show just how much of a global game El Clasico has become over the years.

There will be a big international flavour to May 6’s LaLiga Clasico, with players from 14 different countries set to feature in the likely Barcelona and Real Madrid squads for the game at the Camp Nou.

Stars from many of world football’s biggest and most successful countries will of course be present, including previous World Cup winning nations Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France and Uruguay.

But players from other nations all over the world have also represented both Barcelona and Real Madrid throughout El Clasico’s long and storied history, among them these eight which demonstrate the true global reach of the biggest fixture in world football.
1. Cameroon – Samuel Eto’o [Barcelona 2004-09]
Former Real Madrid youth teamer Samuel Eto’o featured in eight LaLiga Clasicos after moving to Barcelona in 2004, scoring four goals and providing three assists against his old side. A three-time league title winner with Barça, the centre-forward also played for Real Mallorca and scored 162 goals during his time in LaLiga, making him Africa’s all-time top-scorer in the competition.

2. Mexico – Hugo Sanchez [Real Madrid 1985-1992]
Hugo Sanchez scored eight goals in 13 LaLiga Clasicos during his seven seasons at Real Madrid. To this day the Mexican international’s five converted penalties remain a record for the fixture. Recently he recalled how the adrenaline rush from scoring in El Clasico was so great that he would jump even higher than normal during his signature somersault celebrations!

3. Philippines – Paulino Alcantara [Barcelona 1912-27]
Paulino Alcantara is to date the only Asian-born player to play for Barcelona’s senior side and scored the team’s first ever hat-trick against Real Madrid during a 6-6 Copa del Rey draw in 1916. A second El Clasico hat-trick ranks among his 369 goals in 357 game for the Catalans. Alcantara, who was born in Manila, also scored a hat-trick for the Philippines national side against Japan in Tokyo in 1917.

4. New Caledonia – Christian Karembeu [Madrid 1997-2000]
The only Pacific Islander to play in El Clasico is New Caledonia-born Christian Karembeu, who featured three times for Real Madrid against Barça in the late 1990s. A 1998 World Cup winner with France and a two-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, Karembeu is now a LaLiga Ambassador who has attended El Clasico events in South Africa and Vietnam in recent years.

5. Mali – Seydou Keita [Barcelona 2008-12]
Seydou Keita boasts an enviable record of five wins and one draw from his six LaLiga Clasicos as a Barcelona player. The Mali international is also the African to have played most times in the fixture across all competitions [nine]. A three-time LaLiga winner with Barça, he also represented Sevilla and Valencia during his long and successful career in Spanish football.

6. Chile – Ivan Zamorano [Real Madrid 1992-96]
Ex-Chile international Ivan Zamorano scored in five consecutive El Clasico matches in the 1990s, a record only broken by current Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo during the 2012/13 LaLiga season. ‘Bam Bam’ was fundamental as ‘Los Merengues’ won the 1994/95 LaLiga title, winning the top scorer award with 28 goals, including a hat-trick in a memorable 5-0 Clasico victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.

7. Ivory Coast – Yaya Toure [Barcelona 2007-10]
Yaya Toure won four of his six LaLiga Clasicos during his three seasons as a Barcelona player, including an unforgettable 6-2 victory at the Bernabeu in 2009. The Ivory Coast international and current Manchester City midfielder won back-to-back LaLiga titles with the Camp Nou side in 2008/09 and 2009/10.


8. Dominican Republic – Mariano Diaz [Real Madrid 2016-17]
Last season’s LaLiga Clasico at the Camp Nou was the first to feature a player from a Caribbean nation when Dominican Republic international Mariano Diaz came on as a substitute for Real Madrid.

LA CORUNA, SPAIN – APRIL 26: Mariano Diaz of Real Madrid reacts during the La Liga match between RC Deportivo La Coruna and Real Madrid at Riazor Stadium on April 26, 2017 in La Coruna, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

He may have only been on the pitch for four minutes but it was enough for Sergio Ramos to equalise and gain a point which ultimately helped his side win the 2016/17 LaLiga title.

 

Which Stars Support Which Team In La Liga’s ‘Celebrity Clasico’?

The Barcelona and Real Madrid players taking part in May 6’s LaLiga Clasico at the Camp Nou are household names all over the world – and many of the potential audience of half a billion cheering on their team are global stars themselves.

There are lots of close ties between La Liga and the global world of entertainment, while top performers in many other sports are also keen followers of Spanish football.

Among Barcelona’s biggest backers is Colombian singer, songwriter, and dancer Shakira, who will of course be supporting her partner: the Blaugrana defender Gerard Pique.

Madrid centre-back Sergio Ramos also has a famous other-half in Pilar Rubio, a well known Spanish TV presenter, model and actress.

Jennifer Lopez is a huge Madridista, and wore a Real jersey during a concert in the Spanish capital in 2012. Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin regularly tweets his excitement about big Los Blancos games.


Barca fan Justin Bieber got a backstage look at Lionel Messi and company training when performing in the city in 2016. Rapper Snoop Dogg has worn the Catalan side’s colours more than once onstage.

Many of Hollywood’s A-List celebrities are also close followers of Spanish football. Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts was starstruck herself on meeting Cristiano Ronaldo at April 2017’s ‘Clasico’ at the Bernabeu.

Roberts’ ‘Pretty Woman’ co-star Richard Gere even travelled with Zinedine Zidane’s team to their Champions League final victory against Atletico Madrid in Milan in 2016. Actors Viggo Mortensen and Russell Crowe are also confessed Madridistas.

Bollywood superstar Ranbir Kapoor is such a big Barca fan that the club made him an honorary member and official ambassador to India in 2011.

Former Terminator and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has also enjoyed a visit to the Camp Nou.
Within Spain’s own acting community, Madrid born Penelope Cruz grew up a Madrid supporter, but her husband Javier Bardem is a longtime Barca fan.

Past and present stars from other sports will also be tuning in on Sunday for sure. Five time NBA champion with the LA Lakers Kobe Bryant is a massive Barca booster; Oklahoma City Thunder star Carmelo Anthony has trained with Madrid.

New England Patriots two-time Superbowl winner Rob Gronkowski loves Ernesto Valverde’s men, while ex-Cincinatti Bengals wide-receiver Chad Ochocinco cheers on Zidane’s side.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal is a regular Bernabeu visitor and honourary Madrid club member, despite his uncle Miguel Angel Nadal winning five LaLiga titles playing for Barca in the 1990s.

Meanwhile double Wimbledon winner Andy Murray was often at the Camp Nou while training in the Catalan capital as a teenager.

Once the LaLiga Clasico kicks off on Sunday these stars will be like all other fans, glued to the action. Only when the final whistle is blown we will find out which celebrities are on the winning side.

A Look At LaLiga Stars’ Hobbies

LaLiga stars’ hobbies include video games, sports cars, golf, horse-racing, poker and surfing

When not training or playing games, LaLiga’s biggest names all have their own favourite ways to unwind and relax – whether at home, in the garden or on their travels.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi not only features in many football video games, he also regularly plays them himself. The eight-time LaLiga winner has told interviewers he likes to relax by gaming with friends, and has even gone online anonymously to challenge strangers over the internet.

Less competitively, the Argentine has also been seen playing a Barca v Real Madrid ‘Clasico’ against his five year old son Thiago, although we never learned who controlled which side.

Over at Real Madrid, galactico Cristiano Ronaldo is an avid collector of expensive sports cars, with the garage at his house outside the Spanish capital home to a Lamborghini Aventador, Rolls-Royce Ghost, McLaren MP4-12C Spider, Ferrari F12, and two Bugattis – a Chiron and Veyron.

Three-time LaLiga topscorer Ronaldo also likes to share his hobby with his family, having bought his mother a silver Porsche Boxster as a Christmas present a few years back.

Many footballers around the world enjoy a round of golf in their spare time, but few are into the sport quite as much as Ronaldo’s teammate Gareth Bale. Bale is an excellent player with a handicap of just six, and close friend of 2017 US Masters winner and lifelong Madrid fan Sergio Garcia.

The Wales international even recently hired a professional company to recreate three of the ball and stick game’s most famous holes – full size – in the back garden of his family home.

Across the ‘derbi’ divide, Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann is a keen horse-racing fan, and part-owner of a prize-winning thoroughbred. Griezmann inherited his passion for the ‘sport of kings’ from his father, and regularly updates his fans via social media of the progress of his stable.

Their three year old colt ‘Tornibush’ won its first race last November in France, with jockey Franck Blondel imitating the owner’s goal celebration as he dismounted afterwards.

Meanwhile, Messi’s teammate Gerard Pique likes to relax by playing cards during his free time, and the Catalan centre-back has compared the risks involved in high-stakes poker to the challenge of keeping out LaLiga’s top forwards on the pitch.

The Spain international is a serious player who has competed in professional tournaments, with a highest finish of fifth in a world championship event in the Catalan capital in August 2017.

More active is the past-time preferred by Athletic Bilbao centre-forward Aritz Aduriz, an all-rounder who in his youth excelled at other sports including cross-country skiing and snowboarding.


Surfing is now his second love [after] football of course], having learned to ride the waves as a teenager on Bilbao’s La Zurriola beach.
The veteran still visits renowned surfing spots along the Basque coast such as Zarautz and Biarritz, while he has also taken his board on holidays to Costa Rica and California.

 

La Liga Trophy Lands In Nairobi

The coveted silverware that adorns loaded trophy cabinets of world football superpowers, Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia CF landed in Nairobi on Monday.

The LaLiga trophy will take its pride of place at SportPesa offices in the Kenyan capital after the leading gaming firm was presented with an official replica by the Spanish top-flight league.

During the presentation, Oliver Dodd who is the LaLiga Delegate in Kenya reaffirmed their commitment to step up their football development agenda in the coming weeks with an SPL select side set to play two friendlies in Spain.

“It’s an act of gratitude between SportPesa and LaLiga. We would like to thank SportPesa for what they have done so far and we are sure this partnership will be fruitful,” Dodd said.

The LaLiga Delegate confirmed SPL action will soon be back on the air with LaLiga offering their expertise in ensuring the domestic top flight offers a package that will appeal to local and international football fans.

“We have partnered with SPL and the objective is for Kenyan football to grow, that is why we have organised this trip over to Spain. Some Executives will follow a seminar and we will organise two friendly matches that will be broadcast live on free to air,” Dodd added.

 The LaLiga Delegate emphasized their involvement was not limited to airing the games on television.

“We are working with the SPL for them to improve the digital marketing and how to understand their fans better so that people can watch the game and go to the stadiums,” he underscored.

In accepting the glittering silverware, SportPesa CEO, Captain Ronald Karauri hailed the LaLiga partnership as a prized jewel in their sports partnership crown.

“LaLiga has put a lot of effort in improving the game. We are happy and honoured to receive this trophy.

“I cannot even fathom what they will do in the future. They are helping the Premier League in broadcast and production of the matches. In the next few years, one of the biggest gains will come from LaLiga in terms of development of the league,” Karauri stated.

The SportPesa CEO added that the gesture was further evidence of  the positive impact their partnerships were having on local sports.

It means a lot.  We are so happy when people recognise the work we are doing in football, it is always a pleasure,” he added. 

 

La Liga President To Visit Kenya

La Liga President Mr. Mr. Javier Tebas Medrano, will visit Kenya on 10-11 May 2017 following an invitation from KPL Chairman Ambrose Rachier.

The visit of Mr. Tebas to the Kenyan Premier League is in follow up to an invitation he extended in 2016 to a group of KPL Executives to visit LaLiga in October that year.

Mr. Tebas will be accompanied by Mr. Melcior Soler, who is the LaLiga Director of Audio Visual. Their visit to the Kenyan Premier League is consistent with the aims and objectives of the World Leagues Forum, of which KPL and LaLiga are members, whereby members of developing leagues grow through association and partnership with members of the World’s top leagues.

A press conference, which will also be attended by the Spanish Ambassador to Kenya Javier García de Viedma Bernaldo de Quirós, to announce full details of the partnership between KPL and LaLiga will be held on Thursday in Nairobi.

 

 

Sportpesa Becomes La Liga Sponsor

Kenyan betting firm Sportpesa has been unveiled as the new Spanish Football league, La Liga regional sponsors.

With this agreement La Liga takes a step closer in its approach to the followers of Spanish football in Africa.

The deal was signed on Wednesday, April 26, which sees Sportpesa become LaLiga’s new regional sponsor. Javier Tebas, President of LaLiga, Adolfo Bara, Commercial and Marketing General Manager, Antonio Barradas, manager of LaLiga in Africa and Ronald Karauri, Managing Director of SportPesa and Paul Ndung’u, President of SportPesa, attended the presentation.

The agreement links the two entities over the next 3 years and will help LaLiga grow in Africa and get closer to its followers in Africa. This is an important agreement as Africa is a strategic territory for LaLiga, which already has two offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, since 2015 and another in Abuja, Nigeria, since July 2016. LaLiga also has offices in the USA , China, United Arab Emirates, India, Singapore, and has a global audience of 2.5 billion people in more than 180 countries.

“This is a very important agreement for LaLiga, and will contribute to our goal of continuing to grow in LaLiga strategic territories such as Africa,” said Adolfo Bara. Thanks to this agreement with an international company, LaLiga continues its internationalization strategy to bring its brand and Spanish football beyond our borders, a union that will help the international promotion of Spanish clubs. LaLiga and SportPesa share the vision and conviction of the growth potential of the African continent.

SportPesa is an African Sportsbook created in 2014 in Kenya. A company whose objective is the growth of sports in each of the markets in which it operates and is highly committed to transparency and integrity, values ​​with which LaLiga is closely linked.

 

 

Real Madrid beaten again

Real Madrid lost back-to-back games for the first time since November 2015 as Celta Vigo edged the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final.

Madrid, whose 40-game unbeaten run was ended by Sevilla on Sunday, fell behind when Iago Aspas drilled in his 16th goal of the season.

The home side levelled at the Bernabeu when Marcelo buried a thunderous left-foot volley from the edge of the area but but Jonny regained Celta’s lead seconds later after a quick counter attack.

It means the visitors, who are eighth in La Liga, take a slender lead back to Galicia for next Wednesday’s return leg.

Messi wonder goal secures Barcelona a point

It took a sublime free kick from Lionel Messi to salvage a deserved point for Barcelona against Villareal on Sunday as as the game crept into stoppage time. 

Nicola Sansone fired the hosts ahead, a low angled finish after ex-Chelsea loan signing Alexandre Pato’s threaded pass.

Messi hit a post and Barca were denied a penalty when Bruno handled a shot by the Argentina forward, before Messi’s brilliant set-piece goal.

Barcelona are now five points behind Real Madrid in the La Liga title race, having played a game more, after they drew 1-1 with Villarreal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCj07Ljvk6c