Soccer

From Messi to Ronaldo to Neymar and beyond. The who’s who of soccer elite in Miami this week.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, center right, escapes Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, Sat., Dec. 3, 2016.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, center right, escapes Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, Sat., Dec. 3, 2016. AP

FC BARCELONA

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Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league Clasico football match Real Madrid CF vs FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on April 23, 2017. OSCAR DEL POZO Getty Images

Lionel Messi

▪ Position: Forward

▪ Jersey: 10

▪ Age: 30

▪ National team: Argentina

▪ Salary: $53 million

▪ Bio: One of the greatest players of all time. Only player to win five Ballon D’Or Award given to the top player in the world. Won eight La Liga titles, four Champions League titles and five Copa del Reys with Barcelona. Has scored league-record 349 goals, and 500-plus career goals for club and country. Member of Argentine national team since 2005, and (depending whom you ask) is considered better or equal to legend Diego Maradona. Only thing missing from resume is a World Cup. Moved to Spain at 13 because Barcelona offered to pay for growth hormone treatments.

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FC Barcelona's Neymar controls the ball during a match against Juventus during the 2017 International Champions Cup on Sat., July 22, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. Adam Hunger AP

Neymar

▪ Position: Forward.

▪ Jersey: 11.

▪ Age: 25.

▪ National team: Brazil.

▪ Salary: $15 million.

▪ Bio: Often compared to Pelé because he started his career at Santos and has magical touch. Has scored 52 goals in 77 Brazil matches, but his national team career is best remembered for his injury during the 2014 World Cup quarterfinal versus Colombia. He was kneed in the back, fractured a vertebrae, and the nation was crushed as Neymar had to miss the semifinal, which Brazil lost to Germany. At Barcelona, he combines with Messi and Luis Suarez to form one of the best trios of all time. There is talk he wants to leave for another club to get out of Messi’s shadow.

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Barcelona's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, Sat., Dec. 3, 2016. Francisco Seco AP

Luis Suarez

▪ Position: Forward.

▪ Jersey: 9.

▪ Age: 30.

▪ National team: Uruguay.

▪ Salary: $17.3 million.

▪ Bio: Twice won Europe’s Golden Shoe award for highest league goal-scorer. His $94 million transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona is the sixth-highest of all time. Suarez is Uruguay’s all-time scoring leader, and led the team to a fourth-place finish at the 2010 World Cup — though his performance was marred by his goal line hand-ball block of Ghana’s apparent extra time goal in the quarterfinal. Three times he has been reprimanded for biting opponents, the most famous incident at the 2014 World Cup.

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Gerard Pique says he is retiring from the Spanish national team after the 2018 World Cup. ustamante AP

Gerard Pique

▪ Position: Defender.

▪ Jersey: 3.

▪ Age: 30

▪ National team: Spain.

▪ Salary: $14.7 million

▪ Bio: Was a key member of Spain’s 2010 World Cup champion team and 2012 European Championship team. Says he is retiring from the Spanish national team after the 2018 World Cup. Has been dating Colombian pop singer Shakira for seven years. They met when he was in her video for 2010 World Cup anthem “Waka Waka: This Time for Africa.”

REAL MADRID

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Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo keeps his eyes on the ball during the Confederations Cup, semifinal soccer match between Portugal and Chile, at the Kazan Arena, Russia, Wed., June 28, 2017. Pavel Golovkin AP

Cristiano Ronaldo

▪ Position: Forward.

▪ Jersey: 7.

▪ Age: 32.

▪ National team: Portugal.

▪ Salary: $58 million.

▪ Bio: Along with Messi, considered one of the best players of all time. Has won four Ballon d’Or trophies, given to the world’s top player. Also has won five league titles, four Champions League titles and one European championship. His 369 goals are most ever among Europe’s top five leagues. Joined Manchester United at 18 in 2003, and in 2009 went to Real Madrid for a record-$132 million transfer fee. World’s highest-paid athlete on Forbes list in 2016 and 2017. Status for Saturday’s matchup is in doubt.

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Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates scoring against Moldova during the 2018 World Cup qualifying group D soccer match at the Cardiff City Stadium, Wales, Mon. Sept. 5, 2016. David Davies AP

Gareth Bale

▪ Position: Winger.

▪ Jersey: 11.

▪ Age: 28.

▪ National team: Wales.

▪ Salary: $23 million.

▪ Bio: Known for his acceleration, pace, crosses, free kicks and left foot. Led Wales to the semifinals of the 2016 European championships. Began career at 16 at Southampton in the English Premier League, landed at Tottenham and went to Madrid in 2013 for a transfer fee of $105 million. He is the second-highest scorer in Welsh history behind Ian Rush.

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Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos reacts after scoring his team's second goal against Sevilla during the Super Cup 2016 soccer match in Trondheim, Norway, Tues. Aug. 9, 2016. Ned Alley AP

Sergio Ramos

▪ Position: Defender.

▪ Jersey: 4.

▪ Age: 31.

▪ National team: Spain.

▪ Salary: $11.6 million.

▪ Bio: Captain of Real Madrid and the Spanish national team. Has played in three World Cups (including 2010, which Spain won), and three European championships. Considered one of the best backs in the world. Grew up in Camas, Spain, the birthplace of bullfighting, and is a bullfighting aficionado. Known for his matador impersonations during soccer celebrations. Owns a horse farm and breeds Andalusian horses.

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Costa Rica's goalkeeper Keylor Navas reacts after a Group D football match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 20, 2014. RONALDO SCHEMIDT Getty Images

Keyler Navas

▪ Position: Goalkeeper.

▪ Jersey: 1.

▪ Age: 30.

▪ National team: Costa Rica.

▪ Salary: $4.6 million.

▪ Bio: Grabbed the world’s attention at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when he led Costa Rica to its first quarterfinal appearance. Earned three Man of the Match awards at that World Cup, including for the quarterfinal, which the Ticos lost to Netherlands in a penalty kick shootout. Began his career with Costa Rican club Saprissa, and signed with Real Madrid after the 2014 World Cup.

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France's forward Karim Benzema celebrates after an own goal during a Group E football match between France and Honduras at the Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 15, 2014. LUIS ACOSTA Getty Images

Karim Benzema

▪ Position: Forward.

▪ Jersey: 9.

▪ Age: 29.

▪ National team: France.

▪ Salary: $10.2 million.

▪ Bio: Born in Lyon to parents of Algerian descent. Made his mark early in French youth soccer, and played for the French U17 national team that won the 2014 European Championship. Spent the early years of his career with his hometown team Lyon and moved to Real Madrid in 2009. Played for France in the 2014 World Cup, and was named France Player of the Year in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Known for his strong finishes in the box.

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

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Brazil's Thiago Silva looks on during a news conference, the day before the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany, at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Mon., July 7, 2014. Andre Penner AP

Thiago Silva

▪ Position: Defender.

▪ Jersey: 2.

▪ Age: 32.

▪ National team: Brazil.

▪ Salary: $14 million.

▪ Bio: Captain of Brazil’s 2013 Confederations Cup champion team and also captain of the 2014 Brazil World Cup team, which was embarrassed 7-1 by Germany in the semifinal. Silva was missing from that game after picking up his second yellow card in the quarterfinal, and his absence was noticeable. Has won four Ligue 1 titles with PSG since joining the team from Milan in 2009.

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Dani Alves has played for three of the four teams playing International Champions Cup matches in Miami. Miami Herald file

Dani Alves

▪ Position: Defender.

▪ Jersey: 32.

▪ Age: 34.

▪ National team: Brazil.

▪ Salary: $15 million.

▪ Bio: Has played for three of the four teams playing International Champions Cup matches in Miami. He spent eight years with Barcelona from 2008 to 2016, one season with Juventus (2016-17) and signed with PSG in June. Has played in two World Cups and four Copa Americas. Target of racist chants from fans in Spain. Made international headlines when a fan threw him a banana, he picked it up, peeled it and ate it on the field.

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Paris Saint-Germain's Angel Di Maria runs during their French Cup 2017 Final soccer match against Angers at Stade de France in Saint Denis, France. Francois Mori AP

Angel DiMaria

▪ Position: Midfielder.

▪ Jersey: 11.

▪ Age: 29.

▪ National team: Argentina.

▪ Salary: $9.5 million.

▪ Bio: Versatile midfielder who signed with Real Madrid in 2010, won Champions League title with them, transferred to Manchester United in 2104 and then to PSG in 2015. A member of the Argentine national team since 2008, when he scored the gold medal-winning goal at the Beijing Olympics. Has represented Argentina in two World Cups and three Copa Americas. Likes to vacation in Miami.

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Monaco's Radamel Falcao of Colombia, center, challenges for the ball with Paris Saint Germain's Blaise Matuidi, left, and Thiago Motta of Italy during their French League One soccer match, Sun., Sept. 22, 2013, in Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France. Jacques Brinon AP

Blaise Matuidi

▪ Position: Midfielder.

▪ Jersey: 14.

▪ Age: 30.

▪ National team: France.

▪ Salary: $10.4 million.

▪ Bio: Known for his work rate, strong tackles and ball-winning skills in the midfield. Signed with PSG in 2011 to replace one of his idols, Claude Makelele, who was retiring. Played for the French U19 and U21 teams and joined the senior national team in 2010. Has played in one World Cup and the 2016 European championship.

JUVENTUS

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Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon celebrates at the end of a Serie A soccer match between Torino and Juventus at Turin's Olympic stadium, Sun., March 20, 2016. Buffon has broken one of Serie A's greatest records, going 930 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal. Andrea Di Marco AP

Gianluigi ‘Gigi’ Buffon

▪ Position: Goalkeeper.

▪ Jersey: 1.

▪ Age: 39.

▪ National team: Italy.

▪ Salary: $4.6 million.

▪ Bio: One of the most revered goalkeepers in history. Captain of the Italian national team, has participated in five World Cups (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014) and started the past four. During the 2015-16 season with Juventus, broke a record for longest streak without conceding a goal — 974 minutes through 12 games. One of just 18 players all time with 1,000 or more career appearances. Has played 169 games for Italy, more than any player in national team history.

gonzalo
Juventus's Gonzalo Higuain celebrates after team mate Miralem Pjanic scored his side's first goal during the Champions League Group H soccer match between Dinamo Zagreb and Juventus, at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb, Croatia, Tues., Sept. 27, 2016. Darko Bandic AP

Gonzalo Higuain

▪ Position: Forward.

▪ Jersey: 9.

▪ Age: 29.

▪ National team: Argentina.

▪ Salary: $8.95 million.

▪ Bio: Born in France, where his father, Jorge, played professional soccer, but moved to Argentina as a baby and grew up there. Began career at River Plate. Signed with Real Madrid in 2007, won three La Liga titles and scored 107 goals over 190 games. Moved to Napoli in 2013 and won the Coppa Italia. In 2015-16 scored 36 goals for Napoli, tying an 87-year-old record. Transferred to Juve in 2016. Has played in two World Cups for Argentina.

Miralem
AC Milan's Keisuke Honda, left, challenges Roma's Miralem Pjanic during a Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Roma, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Sat., May 9, 2015. Luca Bruno AP

Miralem Pjanic

▪ Position: Midfielder.

▪ Jersey: 5.

▪ Age: 27.

▪ National team: Bosnia and Herzegovina.

▪ Salary: $6.4 million.

▪ Bio: Born in Yugoslavia, moved to Luxembourg with his family shortly before the Bosnian War. Played for the Luxembourg U17 and U19 teams, but switched to the Bosnian team by U21. Played in France for Metz and Lyon before moving to Italy to play for Roma, where he was nicknamed “Il Piccolo Principe” (The Little Prince). Signed with Juventus in 2016. A playmaker and set piece specialist.

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Sami Khedira transferred to Real Madrid in 2010, spent five seasons there and won seven domestic and international titles. Signed with Juventus in 2015. ROBERT GHEMENT EPA

Sami Khedira

▪ Position: Midfield.

▪ Jersey: 6.

▪ Age: 30.

▪ National team: Germany.

▪ Salary: $5.5 million.

▪ Bio: Son of Tunisian father and German mother, began career with VfB Stuttgart and won the 2007 Bundesliga. Transferred to Real Madrid in 2010, spent five seasons there and won seven domestic and international titles. Signed with Juventus in 2015. Has played 50 games for German national team since 2009, led team to World Cup semifinal in 2010 and 2014 World Cup title.

Looking at various statistics between all of "el clásico" soccer matches between Real Madrid and Barcelona throughout the years.

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