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Stoppage Time: El Clasico: World soccer's best game?

It is a match that gets circled on the calendar as soon as the La Liga schedule is released and it transcends the soccer community with people who were previously unfamiliar with the beautiful game tuning in to the grand spectacle.

Make no mistake, when Barcelona and Real Madrid face one another, the world stops to watch.

This weekend will be no different as millions upon millions of fans from all corners of the globe will watch two of the most legendary clubs in the world square off in El Clasico at Camp Nou on Saturday in Barcelona, Spain.

The reasons regarding the appeal of such a massive fixture varies depending on who you ask, but many are sucked in by the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo and Messi are undeniably the two best players in the world, and some would even argue that Messi is the best ever. The Argentine has collected three straight Ballon d'Or awards, while Ronaldo has finished in the top two four of the last five years - the Portuguese star did take home the prestigious award in 2008.

Their scoring rates are unrivaled as they both enter Saturday's clash with 41 league goals through 33 games, a stunning ratio that averages out to more than a goal per game.

Both clubs have strong supporting casts as well. Barcelona's fluent passing style of play, implemented by Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Busquets, has seen the club collect a plethora of trophies under the reign of mastermind manager Pep Guardiola, yielding discussions as to whether this side is the greatest ever. Real Madrid also is full of established international stars such as Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Xabi Alonso, who provide Ronaldo with some much-needed support.

But despite all of the quality players on the pitch, El Clasico has failed to live up to its billing in recent years.

Real Madrid is living in Barcelona's shadow at the moment. Since Jose Mourinho, the alleged "Special One," took over as manager in 2010, Real Madrid has secured just one item of silverware, the Copa del Rey title last season. Compare that to Guardiola, whose resume builds by the day. Barcelona has won everything under the sun since Guardiola replaced Frank Rijkaard in 2008, winning the Champions League, the UEFA Supercup and FIFA World Club Cup twice (2009 and 2011), La Liga and the Spanish Supercup three consecutive times (2009-2011) and the Copa del Rey once (2009).

Mourinho's record against Barcelona since he made the move to Madrid has been nothing short of poor. In 10 matches against the Catalans, the Portuguese tactician has managed a subpar (by Real's lofty standards) record of 1-5-4. With the latest installment of El Clasico taking place at Camp Nou, Barcelona is a strong bet to take maximum points once again, diminishing some of the unpredictability that makes watching the sport so intriguing and gripping.

Also take into account the drop in the level of play exhibited over the past few encounters between the two historic clubs.

Somewhere along the line, the standard of soccer in this fixture morphed from beautiful play to heated exchanges. In Mourinho's 10 matches against Barcelona, Real Madrid has committed 213 fouls, or one foul approximately every 4 minutes, 19 seconds (nine of the matches lasted 90 minutes, but the 2011 Copa del Rey final required 30 minutes of extra time).

In addition, the matches are often overshadowed by a slew of bookings, protests and childish displays of embellishment. The same 10-game span has seen a total of nine red cards issued, seven to Real Madrid and two to Barcelona. With every challenge comes a player feigning injury and a barrage of teammates flocking toward the referee, lobbying for the official to brandish a red card. It's as if the tactic heading into El Clasico is to get someone sent off in an attempt to turn the man-advantage into goals.

The constant disruption has marred the brilliant brand of soccer for which the two distinguished sides are not only capable of playing, but for which spectators have grown accustomed to watching.

But if El Clasico is overrated, then what match provides the best balance of atmosphere and high level of play?

The answer, of course, is a matter of opinion depending on who you ask. A Chelsea fan would most likely say the West London derby. A Manchester United supporter would point the club's classic tussles at Anfield. A Scottish bloke would not be off base in suggesting the Old Firm's pace and tenacity makes it thrilling to watch.

While El Clasico is certainly worth watching as it remains a talking point in soccer circles, recent years suggest that Saturday's clash will be anything but classic.

Even Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has found the heavyweight bout tough to endure of late.

"I've watched the last ... I don't know how many ... games between Barcelona and Real Madrid and I haven't seen a good one, apart from when Barcelona won 5-0 (in November of 2010)," Ferguson told United Magazine. "They're very seldom a good game. Whereas in our league win (against Liverpool) at Old Trafford, and even in the FA Cup game we lost at Anfield, we played some fantastic football."

So when you tune in to watch Barcelona host Real Madrid at Camp Nou on Saturday and three players are sent off before halftime and the teams fail to string together five passes without a reckless challenge flying in and you find yourself catching more glimpses of Sergio Busquets complaining to the referee than you do of actual open play, just know that you have been warned.