Battle lines

Real Madrid and Barcelona set to dominate La Liga this season

Originally Published: August 22, 2012
By Albert Larcada and Paul Carr | ESPN The Magazine
Karim Benzema, Dani AlvesJavier Soriano/AFP/Getty ImagesBarcelona and Real Madrid have won 53 of 81 La Liga titles.

NO RIVALARY COMPARES to the century-long feud between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which have combined to win 53 of 81 La Liga titles. This year the teams meet on Aug. 23 and Aug. 29 for the Spanish Super Cup before the rivals dominate their league more than any other duo on the continent. Each possesses attacking talent fronted by a world-class scorer, but these heat maps and goal diagrams -- based on the past two seasons of La Liga play -- reveal that the teams generate offense in starkly different ways.

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.