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Real Madrid rapidly losing ground on Barcelona - on and off pitch

Never mind the reality check Barcelona handed Real Madrid on the pitch in last month's El Clasico.

The greater concern for Florentino Perez's new board will be the strides Barcelona have made off the pitch since he's been away.

In the past, while Barca's players have dazzled fans and collected silverware consistently, Real could always point to being Spain's biggest club thanks to their huge profile around the world.

But the fall-out from the El Clasico has not only shone the spotlight on Real's playing deficiencies, but also how Barca have taken big chunks out of their dominance of the media.

The famed University of Navarra's Economics, Sport and Intangibles Research Group (ESI) have just released their media findings from the El Clasico - and the results must be a concern for Real president Perez and his marketing people.

In all team categories - both before and after the 5-0 whitewash - it was shown Barcelona generated more news across the major outlets both at home in Spain and abroad:

Spanish Media Coverage:Barcelona 53.7%Real Madrid 46.3%

International Media Coverage:Barcelona 50.4%Real Madrid 49.6%

More worrying for Real is Cristiano Ronaldo's diminishing profile when compared with Barcelona star Lionel Messi. The greatest surprise is Messi's growing status across the globe. Despite Ronaldo's relationships with celebrities and high-profile endorsement deals, the media ran more stories on the relatively low-key Messi before and after the Nou Camp slaughter.

Spanish Media Coverage - Ronaldo v Messi: Ronaldo 49.4% Messi 50.6%

International Media Coverage - Ronaldo v Messi: Ronaldo 45.3% Messi 54.7%

Even Ronaldo's failure to spark during the thrashing and his blow-up with Barca coach Pep Guardiola failed to attract the same amount of headlines as the performance of Xavi on the night.

Xavi drew most coverage in the aftermath of the El Clasico - indeed five of the top six players for news coverage were wearing the Barca Blaugrana:

Media Coverage of El Clasico Performers: Xavi (Barcelona) 9.1%Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 8.2%David Villa (Barcelona) 7.6%Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 7.6%Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) 5.7%Jeffren Suarez (Barcelona) 5.6%

The only win Real can chalk up from the whole episode is Jose Mourinho dominance of media coverage when facing his Barca counterpart Pep Guardiola. While Ronaldo and his Real teammates struggle to stack up against their Barca counterparts, Mourinho remains the Special One for fans in Spain and around the world:

Spanish Media Coverage - Mourinho v Guardiola: Mourinho 63.2% Guardiola 36.8%

International Media Coverage - Mourinho v Guardiola: Mourinho 66.4% Guardiola 33.6%

With Barcelona last week announcing a world record £125 million shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation, the alarm bells have to be ringing at the Santiago Bernabeu that on and off the pitch, Real Madrid are fast losing ground on their eternal rivals.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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