REAL MADRID welcome Barcelona for the biggest domestic clash in club football.
El Clasico also pits the two best player of the past decade — and possibly all-time — against each other in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Winners of the past nine Ballons d’Or, the pair have done it. Breaking record after record each season.
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But there’s a lot more to the duo than just their on-pitch achievements.
Here are seven facts you never knew about each.
Avid poker player
Ronaldo strikes you as one of those guys who is simply great at all sports.
But he can also excel when it comes to the mental side of competition.
CR7 is a talented card player, and the face of website, PokerStars.
Ronaldo breaking a record is nothing new — he does it in his sleep.
But he had 80,000 people come to see him just don a Real Madrid shirt for the first time.
That is highest total ever in football, beating the previous record of 74,000 who came to see Diego Maradona join Napoli in 1984.
He has ‘big admirers’
Ronaldo has an unbelievable physical form. There’s no doubt about that.
But it’s so great that even the Terminator complimented his physique.
When asked what he thought about Ronaldo’s body, Arnold Schwarzenegger replied: “His abs are great.”
Believe it or not, Cristiano Ronaldo is actually his first name — it is followed by ‘dos Santos Aveiro’.
And that means, even the name ‘Ronaldo’ was chosen by his mother.
Speaking earlier this year, he told GQ: “My parents named me after Ronald Reagan because they both liked this name and thought it sounded strong.”
His career nearly ended before it began
A heart problem almost forced Ronaldo to stop playing the game — at the age of 15.
The future superstar was diagnosed with a racing heart, meaning it beat too fast when he was running.
He was operated on and his career continued.
They say all geniuses are flawed — and Ronaldo is no different.
Before humiliating opposition defenders with his quick feet, he found other ways to vanquish his enemies.
He admitted: “I was expelled after I threw a chair at the teacher. He disrespected me.”
Leap of faith
Ronaldo’s prowess in the air is well-known — but it is even better than you think.
He generates 5G of G-force when he jumps for a header, which is five times the power of a cheetah in full flight.
Moreover, his reach is 7cm more than the average NBA player.
His first contract was written on a paper napkin and is now preserved in a protective frame.
Legend has it, Barcelona scouts were so keen to get his signature, they used the only ‘paper’ they could find.
Amazing given it was possibly the most important contract in football history .
Coke addict (but it’s not what you think)
Barcelona were reportedly forced to get rid of all the vending machines around the training ground.
Because Messi was drinking too much coca cola.
The Argentine’s dietary problems were well documented, and he was forced to go and see an nutritionist.
Historically, Argentina is a country which has seen an influx of immigrants from various countries — and Messi epitomises that.
His ancestor, Angelo Messi moved from Italy in 1883, and his mother is Lebanese.
Messi has also claimed to have English heritage.
There was a time when Messi was…err…less famous.
When the time came for his first call-up to Argentina’s Under-20s side, he was the only player playing outside the country.
And they obviously didn’t know too much about him, as the issue reportedly asked for ‘Leonel Mecci’.
Like father like son
If Messi’s son, Thiago is even one hundredth of the talent his father possesses, he has enough talent to make it as a professional.
And Newell’s Old Boys are clearly banking on just that.
Messi’s boyhood club signed him for just 72 hours after his birth.
Running out of superlatives
It’s been years since someone was able to use a new adjective to describe Messi.
And one Spanish dictionary admitted defeat and just made up a word.
It included the adjective ‘Inmessionante’, meaning: the perfect way to play football.
Messi once had a cast of solid gold made of his famous left foot.
And it sold for a whopping £4million in Japan in 2011.
It helped raise funds for victims of Tohoku tsunami.