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The El Classico which is patently one of fiercest derbies in the world has over the past decade been a game between the two best players in this generation and arguably the two greatest players to ever kick a football, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The rivalry and the love fair between the two came to an abrupt ending when Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus last year. It has since then been a lonesome derby for Lionel Messi, no player since then has been able to match up the rivalry he had with Cristiano Ronaldo, but today we enter a new phase, another rivalry or a new rivalry will be ignited. Two central midfielders with bags of talent come head to head. It is Federico Valverde vs Frenkie De Jong.

Federico Valverde joined Real Madrid from Uruguay side Penarol in 2016. He has since then featured for Real Madrid junior side Castilla and Deportivo La Coruna on loan. Valverde failed to break into the Real Madrid team after impressing in preseason last season, but it has been a different story this season. He has been a regular and an integral member of the Real Madrid team. He has this season played in 12 la Liga games, starting in 8 of them and coming from the bench in the other 4, he has scored twice for the Los Blancos. Federico Valverde maneuvered himself into a midfield trio of Kroos-Modric-Casemiro, which is arguably one of the best midfield trios in world football. He has rose above former Ballon D’or winner Luka Modric in Zidane’s midfield pecking order.

Fredrico is an old fashioned box to box midfielder who does everything well and just perfectly. He might be a bit inexperienced but his ability to pass the ball from all distances and to break attacks is second to none. He also has great strength on the ball and a tremendous work rate. He’s much expected to start in the El Classico ahead of Luka Modric. There have been suggestions Zidane may take advantage of Valverde’s physical capabilities and selfless attitude by employing him in a man-marking role on Messi on Wednesday.

Frenkie De Jong’s qualities are so evident, his Athleticism, versatility and quality on the ball makes him unique. He has a passing ability that could be as good as that of Xavi Hernandez or of any good passer of the ball that you could think of. He has been an integral member of the Barcelona team since making his big money move to Barcelona from Ajax in the summer. De Jong has played in 16 La Liga games, starting in 15 and coming from the bench just once. He has been deployed as a central midfielder and as a defensive midfielder for Barcelona this season. De Jong’s bright start at Barcelona has pushed Rakitic to the bench and limited his game time. It’ll really be interesting to know where the midfield maestro starts from today.

Both players share similar qualities but De Jong edges Valverde in technicality whiles Valverde edges in Strength on and off the ball. The two are expected to start tonight, which brings the start of rivalry between two young generational midfielders.

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have similar points, but Barcelona sit top with the better Goal difference.

Who wins the battle between the two midfield talents?

©Mahama Shaibu

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