Former Real Madrid player, Coach and director Jorge Valdano has said Barcelona’s cycle of success is ending as Los Blancos’ is beginning.
The sides meet on Sunday in the second League Clasico of the season and Madrid go into the game top of the table, with a four-point lead over third-place Barca.
Valdano told SER that as he sees it, the clubs are now on a different trajectory, noting it hasn’t been that way for a long time.
“Madrid are favourites for the game for the first time in a while,” Valdano said.
“They’re going at two speeds – Madrid a clear rise and Barca are giving the impression they are entering the end of a cycle.
“Let’s see if the match confirms these feelings or not.”
Valdano added that what Barca achieved in the Pep Guardiola years was astonishing but unlikely to be repeated.
Furthermore, the Argentine suggested their success was so great it will hamper the team for years to come.
“The club has undergone a generational miracle which is not repeatable,” he said.
“They won the Golden Ball, Silver Ball and Bronze Ball [at the Ballon d’Or awards]. We’ve never seen anything like it and we won’t again.
“Signs of decay? Puyol is leaving, the great symbol of the club, pressing is no longer done with the same enthusiasm and neither is the routine.
“In the end, you get used to the good stuff. Subsequent generations at Barca will suffer a lot. The comparison is inevitable.”
Valdano was also asked about a current Barca player, Neymar, and replied that everything that has surrounded the Brazil international has lessened his contribution.
“He is young and he’s accompanied by non-sporting controversy involving his family,” Valdano pointed out.
“He doesn’t seem a comfortable addition. There is a sort of complex having to play alongside Lionel Messi.
“It seems he is more looking to create a Messi goal. It’s fine to respect the great player but Neymar has come because he is a great player and he needs to show that on the pitch.”
Asked for his thoughts on the situation of his compatriot, Tata Martino, Valdano suggested the Barca Coach had been unfairly criticised in recent weeks.
“I don’t know if he’s comfortable. It seems that in recent games there’s been too much focus on his responsibility. Therein lies an injustice,” Valdano argued.