Barcelona meets Real Madrid this weekend in the first clasico of the season. Barcelona is ahead of its great foe in La Liga, as things stand, by 11 points. For two teams increasingly separated by the most slender of margins in almost every regard, it is a chasm.
On the field, though Real has the historic edge, the two have enjoyed similar success this century. Each has won the Champions League four times since 2001. Barcelona has eight Spanish championships to Real’s six in that time period. Both believe they boast the world’s best player.
Financially, Real Madrid is the more successful. The auditor Deloitte had rated Real the richest club in the world for more than a decade, until this year, when Manchester United took the title. Socially, Barcelona has the edge, claiming around 190 million worldwide followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, compared to Real Madrid’s 182 million.
And yet, in one measure, the gap between the two is clear. “In terms of influence, you can say that Barcelona is clearly the most important club in the world,” Puig said.
That is thanks, in no small part, to Puig, and those like him.
Manchester City, the Premier League leader, is by some distance the clearest symbol of Barcelona’s proselytizing power. A cluster of alumni has coalesced around Guardiola, the Premier League leader’s coach, both on the training field — many of his staff trace their roots to Catalonia — and in the executive suites.
City’s hierarchy is stuffed with Barcelona alumni, largely appointed by Ferran Soriano, who served as a vice president at Barcelona until 2012 when he took up the role as chief executive of City Football Group — the umbrella organization that runs the team and its affiliates in Australia, Major League Soccer and Uruguay.
He has since been joined by Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football; Omar Berrada, its chief operating officer; Francisco Lopez, business director of one…