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Toe Poke Daily: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid at sea? Alternative Clasico venues

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ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti provides the latest on the Catalonia protests and how they may impact La Liga.

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Jump to: Mohamed Salah treats daughter to Moana-themed birthday | Oleksandr Zinchenko has pretty much the best week ever | Player shows off skills in protest at FIFA 20 rating

There are doubts hanging over the latest edition of El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid due to the ongoing political protests in Catalonia.

The storied fixture between Spain’s two biggest clubs, scheduled to take place at Camp Nou on Oct. 26, could be moved to another venue or even postponed, with La Liga requesting that the game be relocated or rescheduled due to security concerns.

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No self-respecting football fan wants to be denied, or even delayed, enjoying one of world football’s biggest clashes.

But with every challenge comes an opportunity, and this could be the chance to do something truly special with a unique instalment of this iconic fixture by finding an alternative venue.

The Bernabeu

Barcelona haven’t lost a La Liga match at Real Madrid since 2014.

The simplest solution would be to switch the first Clasico of the season to Real Madrid’s stadium, and have the return fixture in Barcelona. but that straight switch is not an option. However, could Barca — who have won each of their last four league visits to the Bernabeu — be convinced to have their designated “home” game in the Spanish capital? Unlikely.

Neutral venue

The Clasico could take place at a neutral venue, preferably a ground equidistant between the Camp Nou and the Bernabeu. Zaragoza is the closest city to being midway, and boasts a 33,000-capacity stadium that has hosted countless La Liga games for Real Zaragoza. However, it’s only fair that hosting duties are given to CD Utrillas, a tiny side from the Aragon regional leagues who are based almost exactly halfway between the two cities. Also, Utrillas’ current home ground looks delightfully quirky.

Miami

Miami's Hard Rock Stadium has hosted several notable friendlies, including Barcelona-Real Madrid in 2017.
Real Madrid and Barcelona faced each other in Miami during the 2017 International Champions Cup.

It wasn’t so very long ago that La Liga chiefs were pushing hard to have a Barcelona game staged in the United States and break into a lucrative new market, only for Barca to pull out of taking on Girona in Miami. Now it looks like Villarreal will be the first transatlantic “home” team in La Liga, with plans afoot for them to host Atletico Madrid at the Hard Rock Stadium in December.

But wouldn’t it be better if the first Spanish match on U.S. soil was one of world football’s biggest? The Dolphins are playing back-to-back road games over that period, and we can’t imagine it would be an issue for either set of fans.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires stadium La Bombonera was evacuated following a bomb scare, which turned out to be a false alarm.
El Clasico at La Bombonera? Football heaven.

Given that the second leg of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors was held in Spain last December, it’s only fair that Argentina repay the favour.

Barcelona versus Real Madrid at La Bombonera or El Monumental? It’s the stuff of football hipster dreams.

Another Barcelona

If one Barcelona is out of bounds, then why not just play El Clasico in another somewhere else in the world? Bar the odd SatNav issue, we can’t foresee any administrative problems.

There is a Barcelona Sporting Club — based in the town of Guayaquil — which plays in Ecuador’s top flight, while the amateur team who hail from the tiny Cornish hamlet of Barcelona in the U.K., Pelynt FC, actually play at a pitch ironically dubbed the “New Camp.”

Failing that there’s always Barcelona Harbor on the banks of Lake Erie in New York State or various cities called Barcelona in Venezuela, the Philippines and Brazil.

International waters

Barcelona and Real Madrid could settle who’s Top Gun once and for all.

Mark out a football pitch on the deck of an aircraft carrier, sail it out into the middle of the ocean and let Lionel Messi & Co. do their thing, free from the shackles of all normal stipulations and laws that govern land folk.

Fancy adding an extra ball into the game every 10 minutes? Reckon all free kicks should be taken by the respective head coaches? That all substitutions are to be made using fans selected at random from the crowd?

It’s all good. Anything goes. Could be the greatest Clasico of all time… or the worst. But at least it will happen.

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Mohamed Salah treats daughter to Moana-themed birthday

Mohamed Salah made his claim for the title of best dad in the whole wide world when he threw his young daughter her dream Disney birthday celebration.

The Liverpool forward dressed up in his finest leafy loincloth to take on the role of Maui, while daughter Makka took centre-stage as the title character for the Moana-themed bash.

“I, Maui, bring to you Moana! Happy birthday my princess,” Salah declared, fully inhabiting the role played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the 2016 animated movie.

Makka has previously shown she may well have inherited her father’s eye for goal, tucking one away at Anfield to rapturous applause from The Kop.

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Oleksandr Zinchenko has pretty much the best week ever

First securing qualification for Euro 2020 with Ukraine, then proposing to his girlfriend: it’s been quite a week for Oleksandr Zinchenko.

The Manchester City star was part of the side that beat Portugal 2-1 to secure a spot at next summer’s finals, which he celebrated rather vociferously.

Zinchenko then topped off his wild week by popping the question to long-term partner, sports broadcaster Vlada Sedan — the reporter seen alongside the City defender during his wild celebrations.

“The most important YES in my life,” beamed Zinchenko alongside a photo of the newly engaged couple, both wearing national team jerseys, taken on the pitch at the Olympic staium in Kiev.

How positively lovely. Here’s wishing them all the best.

It’s hard to believe that the coming week for Zinchenko — which features a trip to Crystal Palace before home games against Atalanta and Aston Villa will live quite as long in the memory.

Player shows off skills in protest at FIFA 20 rating

A professional footballer has taken matters into his own hands to protest the meagre skill stats afforded to him in the latest FIFA game.

Northampton Town midfielder Scott Pollock has attempted to prove that his FIFA 20 rating is too stingy by demonstrating his various attributes in a Youtube experiment.

Filmed by freestyler Kieran Brown, the video sees Pollock undergo a series of passing, shooting, sprinting and ball control challenges designed to debunk his overall game rating of 51/100.

Pollock formerly played for Hashtag United, the Youtube-based football club, but the 18-year-old has since signed for the Northampton youth team.





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