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Busquets vs Modric ahead of El Clasico

El Clasico: How Busquets and Modric compare ahead of Barca-Real Madrid clash

October 27, 2018 By Michelle Bonsu
Sergio Busquets and Luka Modric are viewed as two of the most influential midfielders in the game today. We take a look at their stats ahead of the first El Clasico of the season taking place on October 28th.

For La Liga fans, one of the biggest games of the season is certainly El Clasico. But for casual observers who are more interested in other leagues, the Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry made the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid clash even more interesting to catch just because of the two superstar players on the pitch. In fact, for many such observers, El Clasico is really the only time they even tuned into a La Liga game.

That being said, El Clasico is arguably one of the biggest and most well-known sporting rivalries in world football, and has been a hotly contested tie even before either Messi or Ronaldo came onto the scene. And it certainly will be a big fixture after both have hung up their boots. For the first time since 2007, though, neither player will be featuring.

One has said his good-byes to the club where he famously won four of his Ballon d'Or awards, and Italian football fans are certainly happy to have Cristiano Ronaldo plying his trade in Serie A as it has helped to further elevate the league on the world stage. Meanwhile, Messi unfortunately will miss out on Barcelona's clash against their famous rivals due to an elbow injury, meaning that he will have to wait until at least next year to feature in his first Clasico of the 2018/2019 season.

Despite the absence of Messi and Ronaldo, though, there is still plenty of star quality on the pitch, and two such notable players are not strikers. Nor are they defenders. Rather, they are the men who keep things ticking in the middle of the park. Luka Modric, who had a hugely successful World Cup as Croatia shocked the world and made it all the way to the final, is certainly a serious contender to finally end the duopoly in the Ballon d'Or race that Messi and Ronaldo have enjoyed since 2008. The 33-year-old Croatian, who also played a key role in Real Madrid's three consecutive Champions League triumphs, is hoping to become the first player since Kaka, who was then with AC Milan in 2007, to win the coveted prize.

Meanwhile, Sergio Busquets did not have an enjoyable World Cup in Russia, as Spain were shockingly humiliated in the round of 16 by the tournament hosts. Nonetheless, the 30-year-old is still widely viewed as one of the top midfielders in the game today and having won numerous accolades with Spain (1 World Cup, 2 EURO titles) as well as with Barcelona (7 La Liga titles, 3 Champions Leagues), is a highly experienced veteran of Clasico ties.

The question is, how do they stack up? Both players have featured in nine games for their respective clubs, albeit Busquets has picked up more gametime than his counterpart. Here is a comparison of some key stats featuring Busquets and Modric. Note, not all stats are featured here in this graph.

As we can see, Busquets wins the passing battle by a long-shot, as well as edges out Modric in duels. However, when it comes to completing key dribbles, the Croatian international dominates by far. Furthermore, Modric has also chipped in with one assist, while Busquets is still waiting to be directly involved with a goal - will it happen against struggling Real Madrid in El Clasico?

Interestingly, although Busquets has completed way more passes than Modric, he has not been as successful when it comes to crosses, with zero so far versus Modric's ten.

Midfielders, of course, do have to get stuck in at times and help in on defense, which naturally runs the risk of picking up a yellow card...or worse. Fortunately, neither player has been sent off, and Modric has committed slightly more fouls than Busquets (seven versus six) and has received one more caution (two) than his Spanish opponent. Meanwhile, two-time EURO winner Busquets has been fouled on 19 occasions while Modric has been illegally stopped 16 times

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